Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told Newstalk ZB that the cost of the quakes was still to emerge, but it would be in the billions of dollars.

"The Government is in a pretty strong financial position at the moment, New Zealand has a very strong balance sheet. And given that some of that [earthquake recovery] work, particularly the coastal highway, is essential, then you cut the cost to suit, but I don't see us cutting any programmes as a result of this."

Brownlee said there would be enough builders, engineers and other workers to cover any rebuild, despite a construction boom in Auckland.

"I don't think that will be a problem because you've got a lot of, particularly infrastructure, contracts coming to the end in Christchurch. You still have a workforce down in the South Island."


On the damage to buildings in Wellington, including the Statistics New Zealand building, Brownlee said lessons from the recent earthquakes could lead to building code requirements being strengthened.

"But what's really important to note is that in two very big earthquake events now we've only had, I think, four building failures in so far as parts of them may have collapsed."