As thousands were getting out of Christchurch in the days after the deadly February earthquake, Chris Gourley and his young family were moving in.

The BNZ's southern region head of retail says he had no hesitation returning his family to the devastated city he used to call home and, despite the frightening quakes they have experienced since, he still doesn't.

"You know how things happen for a reason - it's just kind of crazy how it worked out."

Mr Gourley had been living with his wife Emma and three children aged 4, 6 and 7, in Nelson, but had been planning a shift to take up a new role with BNZ in Christchurch on February 26.


When the magnitude 6.3 quake struck on February 22, killing 181 people, "we had to make a big decision on do we still want to bring our family to Christchurch", he said.

"And the decision was made in a snap. All of my family is here, all of my wife's family is here. And I was moving into a position where I thought I could make a difference to Christchurch."

He drove himself to Christchurch on the afternoon of February 22 and was working with the local BNZ team the next morning on how to support staff.

"We talked to everybody, and everybody was safe. And then we started thinking about how do we start helping our customers."

There have been some anxious times, such as the big quakes on June 13. Mr Gourley's family home is in Prebbleton, just outside Christchurch, and his wife got to the local school "like a shot" to check the children were okay.

"It's scary. I think everybody is facing up to things they can't control. But in June, for instance, being able to get in my car that afternoon and get over to my mum's house and help move silt from her driveway and spend time with her and make sure she was all right - I couldn't have done that if I was in Nelson. And that's really important."