Mike Hosking is a breakfast host on Newstalk ZB.

Mike Hosking: Christchurch has come a long way in five years


Numbers are funny things aren't they.

Personally, today's fifth anniversary of the Christchurch quake is no more or less significant than the fourth last year or the sixth next year. But we love a rounded number; 5, 10, 20, 50.

As I mentioned last week with the shake last weekend, what we saw is that five years gives you resilience. I read one piece last week that talked of the dilemma of staying or going.

That choice has been made. That decision is over. That all happened five years ago. The vast majority of those who remain in Christchurch remain there for the long haul - and why wouldn't you?

Christchurch in the past five years has travelled a most remarkable journey. I saw the story on the news last week about the arts centre, the largest restoration of its type in the world right now, and it is stunning.

The Reserve Bank had the report out last week showing the economic boost of the rebuild is far from over and that talk from last year about the rebuild having peaked is bollocks. There are a couple of decades of serious work still to get stuck into. There are jobs aplenty and even more opportunity.

If we do anything today in marking Christchurch, let's mark how far it's come. Let's mark the enormous progress, the big wins, the massive chance, the extraordinary opportunity.

Let's look ahead to the big decisions still to come, things like the convention centre. Tick that box and even more investment flows the city's way.

The anchor projects are critical because with them comes the supporting facilities, like the hotels. If there is an advantage to living outside of Christchurch, but having a close interest, it's that you can see the change.

Read more:
How the children of the quake survived and thrived
Eerie images of city's red-zone, five years on
Back in the saddle: A personal journey of rediscovery
Chris Lynch: Quake rebuild needs to look at its priorities
The Christchurch earthquake dilemma: Should we go or stay put?

If you've lived through the frustration it's understandable. The pace seems slower than you would have liked, and you can fully get the frustrations over things like insurance, but if you mark it in blocks of time, if you go back to that fateful day five years back and contrast it to what we see to day, the transformation is little short of a miracle.

Remembering of course that no one had ever faced something like this in our lifetime. This is the biggest project this country has ever seen. A 40 billion dollar multi-decade project that's testing everyone's experience and skills. And yet five short years in you can see the advances.

That 40 billion by the way is worth measuring. That 40 billion isn't much under 20 per cent of our entire GDP. Dairy is seven, tourism is five, Christchurch is about 18. It's eye-watering.

The lesson I think is if you can do nothing about your circumstances, and a quake is a good example of that, then the trick is to see it as an opportunity and do something spectacular. Do something you would never have done otherwise, and Christchurch slowly but surely is shaping up into just that.

Yes it takes time. Yes there are hassles and frustrations along the way, but big picture gets a bit better every day.

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Mike Hosking is a breakfast host on Newstalk ZB.

Mike has been Newstalk ZB’s breakfast host since taking over from Sir Paul Holmes in 2008. He also hosts TVNZ’s nightly current affairs show, Seven Sharp. Mike's insightfulness and knowledge makes him one of New Zealand’s most successful broadcasters.

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