Many quake-hit Canterbury homeowners can expect to get insurance payouts for contents damage starting this week, and rebuilds will be able to get underway faster under new proposed legislation, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

The Government also intends to set up a recovery commission as part of its earthquake recovery bill to be considered by Cabinet tomorrow.

Mr Brownlee told NZPA that he had been talking to the Earthquake Commission (EQC), private insurers, banks and local authorities about getting people paid out and repairs done.

"We can sort out the local authority requirements through the legislation that will be coming this week, or enable them to sort themselves out," Mr Brownlee said.

The other parties were working co-operatively to get progress.

"So we should be able to indicate for people (who) have got claims for damage to their contents, they will start calling those people this week and they will start settling those claims this week."

Up to 40 per cent of claims registered so far were for contents.

About 100 geotechnical assessors would be in the area from tomorrow - they were from all over the country and some from Australia.

"So we get a picture of the geology of the place now that we've had the shake," he said.

The assessors would contact about 2500 households who indicated on their EQC claim registration that their houses were uninhabitable.

Mr Brownlee said he expected many of those properties could be repaired. If the houses were on stable land, the insurers would "put together very quickly a proposal for alternative accommodation and rebuild".

The minister said he understood some people were feeling "lost" not knowing what would happen to their homes.

"A function of the sheer volume of claims, 2500 houses in this position, has meant things have gone a little more slowly up to this point, but I would hope we make very serious progress this week and people have a clearer picture."

However, home owners in areas where there were concerns about the land would have to wait longer.

"We need to give them (assessors) a bit more time to get about that. The effort last week, quite rightly, was on getting the city reconnected - that's pretty much happened, the next bit is the repatriation as much as possible."

Mr Brownlee and Environment Minister Nick Smith would present a joint Cabinet paper to colleagues tomorrow.

"That will scope out the reconstruction legislation and will have a proposal in it for a reconstruction commission.

"This has been discussed with all of the district councils and they have had a hand in writing of that bill."

The commission would be able to make long term repair plans - for example, some pipes reconnections were not permanent solutions.

"Giving the district the ability to corral all their reconstruction stuff into one place with some different processes is going to work really well."

Prime Minister John Key previously indicated that the legislation could include the ability to grant building consents retrospectively to get work underway.

Mr Brownlee said details of the legislation were likely to be announced tomorrow afternoon.

"Essentially what we are looking for is a bill that will enable the reconstruction authority to get about its business with minimum fuss."

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill English told TV3 political show the Nation that some schools in the area would not be able to reopen.

Mr English said the disaster meant there would be no let up on fiscal constraints, and he did not rule out further budget cuts.

- NZPA