The Ministry of Economic Development is leading an initiative between the country's accountants and lawyers to offer business recovery services to earthquake-hit Christchurch companies.

The ministry, in conjunction with the Canterbury Development Corporation and the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, is working with accountancy and law professional bodies to structure a partly government-funded package. Details are expected next week.

"Ideally, any business-assistance packages developed would involve an optimal mix of resources from both the private and the public sector," a ministry spokeswoman said.

The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and the New Zealand Law Society were coy about details.

Two weeks ago, accountancy firm Grant Thornton announced it was in talks with the Government about forming a public-private partnership to assist Christchurch SMEs. Partner Peter Sherwin said its initiative was separate from the Government-led one but he hoped the projects would dovetail.

"One of the challenges we see with a grand collaboration is just keeping control of it from the point of view of speed of delivery." Christchurch law firm Duncan Cotterill spoke out against perception that local firms couldn't handle the work, and urged clients to stay local.

"We need business to re-establish itself here," chief executive Janice Fredric said. Duncan Cotterill has since joined the Grant Thornton initiative.

General manager of the chamber, Leeann Watson, said the Recover Canterbury organisation set up after the last earthquake was acting as the "central peg" for the assistance. So far it had funded business-recovery efforts but it was hopeful of a public-private partnership.

"This is quake recovery on steroids," she said.