The chairman of EQC's board, Sir Maarten Wevers, has resigned just as the government steps in to speed up the settlement of Canterbury's unresolved earthquake damage claims.
Megan Woods, the minister responsible for the EQC, said she was appointing an independent ministerial advisor to work with the board and management on a plan to speed up the settlement of claims.
"I've made it clear I am not satisfied with where EQC is in respect of the Canterbury earthquake work seven years on from the February 22nd event," she said on Friday.
"For the around 2600 people with unresolved claims, being stuck in limbo is unacceptable - we've got to see faster progress for these people so they can get their lives back on track."
Woods said she had accepted Wevers' resignation.
"I thank him for his service. Next week I will be appointing an interim chair to oversee the changes I believe need to be made to speed up this process."
Wevers said: "It is clear that the minister has no confidence in the board and staff of the commission.
"As chair, I take responsibility for that, and have stepped aside so that the minister can appoint someone whom she assesses will be able to do a better job."
Wevers conceded that "mistakes have been made" - and said "customers have not always been supported as they should have been, when they should have been, and it has taken a long time to reach the final stages of our response.
"We apologise to each and every claimant to whom we have not delivered as we should have."
Wevers said there were 2600 claims outstanding seven years after the February 2011 tragedy, out of more than 470,000 lodged, which amounted to less than 0.6 per cent.
The Tower insurance company welcomed the Government's decision, saying it believed the EQC model was "fundamentally broken".
"Seven years on from the event, insurers and our customers still do not have complete clarity on outstanding EQC claims," Tower chief executive Richard Harding said.
"For a country that faces a significant earthquake risk, an organisation like EQC can play an important part helping communities recover from disaster and it is imperative that they operate efficiently and in the best interests of New Zealand."
Tower had fewer than 300 open quake claims remaining, Harding said.
Wevers was previously a senior civil servant and worked as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet boss during the Clark government.
Before that, Wevers was dubbed "Mr Apec" for his smooth management of the 1999 forum in Auckland.
He was knighted in 2012.
- NZN, staff reporter