Two investigations are underway into the death of a highly respected data expert with Christchurch's earthquake recovery authority.

Father of two Julian Carver, the former chief information officer at CERA, died unexpectedly at a psychiatric hospital in Christchurch on January 2 aged just 44.

The matter is now under investigation by both the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) and the Coroner.

CDHB chief medical officer Dr Sue Nightingale said it was carrying out a Serious Incident Review to ascertain the facts.


"The review will identify whether there are changes we need to make to our systems and processes that could have prevented this sad outcome," she said.

"Our sympathies go to the family and friends."

Police today confirmed that they attended Carver's sudden death last week.

"The matter is now in the process of being referred to the Coroner," a police spokesman said.

The Carver family today declined to comment, not wanting to potentially prejudice the coronial investigation.

Friends have organised a memorial gathering in Wellington tonight where they plan to build a cairn down at a local beach.

Carver's funeral was held last week. He leaves behind two children, who will benefit from donations to a Givealittle page set up by his sister Anwen Holtshousen to fund their higher education.

"Julian Carver has always had a great love for his children, and a passion for education which he was taught by his beloved mother Judith," Holtshousen wrote on the page.

"He had a thirst for knowledge, and it would be important for him to know that his children are able to pursue education and experience in whatever form they choose."

Carver at CERA, explaining the plan for presenting quake information to the people of Canterbury in September 2011. Photo / CC-By, credit
Carver at CERA, explaining the plan for presenting quake information to the people of Canterbury in September 2011. Photo / CC-By, credit

Prior to his role at CERA, Carver founded three web software start-ups; and led several large shared services projects across central and local government; and helped develop New Zealand's Declaration on Open and Transparent Government.

On a Facebook memorial page, dozens of friends left tributes for the man with the "sharp brain" and passion for his work.

"Ah, Julian. Too soon, man, too soon. I wish I'd been a better friend, that I'd have known to reach out when you needed it. You always seemed so strong and sure, that I never thought to check. Arohanui, you big, bad pacifist, you," wrote Mark Harris.

Damian Brown said: "You always had such a sharp brain, and were so passionate about open data ... I will miss our regular coffee catch ups and discussions on government, christchurch rebuilds, reminiscing on our days at CERA, and many other topics. You have gone too early mate. This is very sad and a little too hard to comprehend. Bye bro, I wished I had told you what a damn good bloke I thought you were."

Another friend, Scott Tansley, posted Carver's favourite phrase, promising to keep it alive.

"A picture saves a thousand words, a map saves a million!"


It is unknown why he was in hospital.

Any recommendations following the Serious Incident Review will be published by the Health Quality and Safety Commission. ​

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)


Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

Samaritans 0800 726 666

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.