Kaikoura earthquake has potential to draw businesses to Bay

By Alice Lock

1 comment
Early days: ANZ economist Cameron Bagrie thinks it is to early to say if the earthquake has produced a boon for Hawke's Bay. Photo/file.
Early days: ANZ economist Cameron Bagrie thinks it is to early to say if the earthquake has produced a boon for Hawke's Bay. Photo/file.

The earthquake which shook the country last week has prompted businesses to look for offices in the regions.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said there was already talk about government agencies introducing offices away from the capital.

"I think the earthquake will have an effect on pushing government agencies in to the regions, well it will certainly stimulate this process."

Napier mayor Bill Dalton said the council's economic development team were already aware of the opportunities for the likes of government departments dencentralising and moving to places like Hawke's Bay.

"With modern communications there is no longer a requirement to have all agencies in the capital and it would also be a good opportunity for the provinces to have major corporate offices operating in their areas."

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said there needed to be a lot of strategic consideration to the centricity by which Wellington is populated by government services.

"There is a case to push some in to the regions but the multitude and which ones are up for debate, as it is still early days."

Victoria University chair in Economics Disaster Ilan Noy also said there was some discussion about government agencies moving out of Wellington but did not know if it would actually happen due to the complications and cost.

"I think the big issue is that people will need to be hired if these organisations move out of the capital."

"For example if Stats NZ, which is a government entity building that was severely affected, moved to Hawke's Bay then there needs to be a significant number of people with the required background to work there."

Some businesses had already made the move to Hawke's Bay temporarily and mayor Lawrence Yule said he was in communication with Wellington, as he expected more staff to re-locate here.

"Seventy Kiwibank staff are already here and I would expect the numbers to get up to 250. We are working with what can be done as accommodation is tight at the moment but we want support and help where we can."

Mr Walford said with Xero announcing the move to Hawke's Bay he too expected businesses to follow suit.

"The company has led the way and shown the process so they would be catalyst for that development. We need locals to talk about all of the positive opportunities the bay presents."

Mr Dalton said the success of Kiwibank with 70 staff relocating to the Hastings office temporarily and having all the gear and communications set up should portray these opportunities of moving to the provinces.

"I think there is an opportunity to look at sensible decentralisation for the good of the regions and in terms of resilience for the corporate organisations too."

Imports and exports were also having an effect on Hawke's Bay after the earthquake.
Customs broker, shipping agent and GoGroup chief executive Murray Painter said with the Wellington port terminal having a question mark over it an increase of cargo was coming to Hawke's Bay.

"We are usually a big exporting port not importing but more shipping companies are offloading here so there is no reason they won't pick up more from Napier while they are dropping off."

However, Mr Noy did not think Hawke's Bay could expect a boon from the earthquake.

"I don't think we can expect a boon here in Wellington, and definitely not in Hawke's Bay. There will be a temporary boon because of construction spending in the region affected- Kaikoura."

Mr Bagrie agreed with Mr Noy and said it was too early to judge the effects of the earthquake on the economy but there could be an upswing if activities are farmed out.

"It is still early days and there could be some positive impacts but what could happen is losing the man power from the regions, as there is an awful lot of labour needed in the affected areas."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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