Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Key upbeat about quake recovery work

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Prime Minister John Key. File photo / APN
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Prime Minister John Key. File photo / APN

Prime Minister John Key says Cantabrians should not lose sight of the progress that has been made on the recovery of the city as it marks the anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake on Wednesday.

He said the day will be a time to reflect on what had been lost, but people should not give up hope about the recovery.

"The focus on Wednesday will be to reflect on that fateful day last February and to honour those who lost their lives, those who were injured and those heroes and heroines who selflessly went to the aid of their fellow human beings.

"My thoughts this week are with the friends and families of those who lost loved ones and indeed with all the people of Canterbury who have lived through so much."

He said the date of February 22 2011 would go down as one of the darkest days in New Zealand history, on which 185 people lost their lives and many more were badly injured.

Mr Key said there had been significant progress on the recovery effort.

The owners of nearly half of the 6800 homes in red zones had accepted the Government's settlement offer to buy their homes.

"More than one third have already settled on their properties which has enabled them to move on and restart their lives."

Construction was underway on 26 significant commercial buildings within the central city, which was hard hit by the earthquake.

Demolition was completed on about 80 per cent of the 1406 buildings tagged for demolition by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and Civil Defence.

About 200 infrastructure repair projects, valued at about $420 million were also underway.

He said thousands of damaged homes had been repaired or the work to do so was underway and the Cashel Mall 'Restart the Heart' shopping area was attracting people back to the central city.

"Long-term, Christchurch will look very different to what it did, but it will be vibrant, new and a great place to live."

Mr Key said discussions with insurance companies about reinsurance in Christchurch were still underway but the situation was not perfect and Cantabrians faced hefty premiums.

"The reports I get is that increasingly people are being able to access insurance through the normal markets. It's just not perfect."

He believed insurers were now more confident about offering new insurance despite initial concerns the aftershocks on December 23 would deter them.

Mr Key will be in Christchurch to attend several memorial services during the week, including speaking at the Latimer Square service on Wednesday morning.

- NZ Herald

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