Environment Canterbury's new chief executive arrived in Christchurch the day of this week's big shake - and yesterday was on the end of a shovel helping his fellow residents.

Bill Bayfield joined more than 700 "priceless" volunteers who braved the weather to begin the latest clean-up of properties in the eastern suburbs.

The Farmy Army, backed by Federated Farmers, and a student volunteer army joined forces for the clean-up.

Bayfield and his wife Maggie helped shovel silt in Bexley.

"On Saturday what else would I do but go to the gym, so why not come here and shovel silt, it's probably the same effect. To be honest I'm hoping to lose more weight doing this," he said.

Maggie Bayfield said: "I feel for these people, it's the third time they've been affected. It must be so disheartening."

Resident Graham Starr said his family were looking at leaving the city and moving to Tauranga, if his wife Jo gets a job there.

"I've lived in Christchurch all my life. I never thought I'd want to go anywhere else but after the third quake, even after the two big earthquakes, it's just not worth it," Starr said.

His view was echoed by some-time Herald on Sunday columnist Reece Johns who likened the latest shake to ongoing warfare.

"Unlike the trenches we can't fire back. I wish Mother Nature would piss off, run out of bullets, find another target," Johns said.

Nicolas Warren, 68, whose Wairoa St property was surrounded by silt, said the work the volunteers were doing was "priceless".

"You can't put words to it and you can't put a price on it. It's just so valuable. It boosts morale."

Ron Nilsson, 76, semi-retired, of Papanui, said a "guilty conscience" moved him to sign up to help. His son's Avonside home was left a "write off" after the quake but he said he was lucky his own home came off unscathed, with only damage to his garage.

The day started uncomfortably for residents with a 4.4 aftershock hitting near 7am. It was centred 10km east of Christchurch at a depth of 7km. Monday's quake measured 6.2.

Meanwhile, Christchurch City Council has received 78,000 ideas from people, including professionals, on the city's rebuild. A 48-hour design challenge at Lincoln University runs on July 2 and 3.