The $30 billion rebuild of post-earthquake Christchurch will
race ahead if local firms team up with British firms
experienced in major construction projects like the London
2012 Olympics and Heathrow Airport redevelopment, a UK
government minister said yesterday.
Lord Ian Livingston, UK Minister of State for Trade and
Investment, was in Christchurch today to talk up the benefits
and opportunities for British businesses working
collaboratively with New Zealand companies on the rebuild.
He had lunch with local firms that already invest in the UK
before later meeting with UK companies pitching for work in
the post-disaster zone.
In the audience were officials from the Canterbury Earthquake
Recovery Authority (Cera), the Christchurch Central
Development Unit (CCDU), construction firms, accountancy
powerhouses, and banks.
Afterwards, he told APNZ that Christchurch firms needed
outside help to ensure the rebuild was not a 30-year project.
"The people of Christchurch have been remarkably resilient
and deserve to, as quickly as possible, get the sort of
future I think these sorts of partnerships can deliver," Lord
He cited the expertise UK firms have from completing huge
infrastructure projects like the London 2012 Olympics,
Heathrow Airport redevelopment, Crossrail, the largest
construction project currently in Europe. All projects were
completed on time, to budget, and safely.
"[New Zealand] companies just are not set up to do what is,
hopefully, a once in a few lifetimes, sort of project," he
Partnerships formed on large-scale projects in England have
seen international firms go on to build infrastructure for
the Football World Cup in Brazil and the 2014 Winter Olympics
And he stressed that the partnerships can have longer-lasting
benefits, than just one-off projects in Christchurch.
"There's a real opportunity for those partnerships to operate
around Australasia, Asia, and the world."
Lord Livingstone, the CEO of the BT Group up until last year,
also visited the site where Vodafone plans to erect a new $50
million South Island headquarters and innovation hub.
He said it was a prime example of British and New Zealand
interests working together, "not just to rebuild Christchurch
but very much make it like a city of the future".
And he added that the history between the two nations, having
the same legal system, as well as the close social, cultural,
and sporting links, made working together "easy".
British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell agreed.
"This is about our history. As an old friend and ally, it's
about our relationships, our history, our present, and our
Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive
Peter Townsend said local companies had the ability to
"unlock" economic opportunities.
But by teaming up with international, including UK, firms,
they can "build scale".
"We lack the scale to do what needs to be done in
Christchurch. The only variable we have ahead of us is time.
If we don't build scale everything is just going to take that
Collaborative models and joint ventures are already starting
to happen in Canterbury, Mr Townsend said.
He has seen companies outside of New Zealand come in cold and
try to set up companies as opposition to local firms.
"I can't quote one time I've seen that work," he said. "It's
the model of collaboration that's the key."
- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ