Hon Grant Robertson, Hon Megan Woods, MPs and other guests, Mayors, councillors, Chief Executives, council staff and conference sponsors: Welcome to Christchurch and the Canterbury region.
We are incredibly proud to host the 2018 Local Government New Zealand Conference: We are Firmly Focused on the Future.
And here in Christchurch and the Canterbury Region that is precisely what we are. Firmly Focused on the Future.
I remember someone saying once that to drive safely on the road, you had to keep your eye on the rear vision mirror. Part of focusing on the way ahead, was to know what was behind you. In order to be firmly focused on the future, we need to know what’s behind us and to learn the lessons our experiences offer.
20 seconds. That’s all it took to turn our world upside down. 185 people died, hundreds more were injured and thousands lost their homes. The road to recovery has been long and hard, and there is still a way to go.
However, we in Christchurch and in our wider region, Selwyn and Waimakariri, and now Hurunui and Kaikōura, will never forget those who came to help. Our brothers and sisters from local authorities from one end of the country to the other came in their droves. Their selflessness and their compassion will never be forgotten.
It is who we are. We are local government. What we do is up front and personal. We are connected to our communities and we know when someone needs our help, we will be there for each other.
My introduction and welcome to you today comes with our heartfelt thanks for coming to our aid in our time of need.
We in Greater Christchurch and Canterbury wanted to host this conference, so we could acknowledge you all and record our debt of gratitude for all you have done.
Christchurch has always been New Zealand’s Garden City - but what that means in the 21st Century is quite different to what it has been in the past. Now it is also about sustainability, ecological values, environmental protection and food resilience.
Our experience of disaster has enabled us to be firmly focused on the future. We have become a City of Opportunity for all – a place that is open to new ideas, new people and new ways of doing things – a city where anything is possible.
We are open to exploring all the possibilities that both localism and new technology can bring.
Localism allows central government to think of local government as partners and as the delivery arm for policies that are much more readily consulted and engaged on at a local level. Centralised funding with local delivery. The possibilities are boundless.
New technologies bring the potential to transform cities, towns and regions whether it is in transport, waste management or energy consumption.
And then there are the ongoing challenges of needing to invest in infrastructure, building resilience and planning for climate change and natural hazards. We know from our experience here that challenges can also present opportunities.
Smart technology has future-proofed so much of what you see around you in the city. Buildings that will not have to be entered to be assessed after an earthquake – that assessment will be done by the sensors and the systems built into the fabric of the structure itself, with the all-clear measured in seconds rather than hours.
Not only the new, but also the heritage that remains that has been carefully restored, honouring the past while ensuring its future.
This venue combines the heritage, the replica heritage and the brand new.
And that’s our city. We were the country’s first city established by Royal Charter in 1856 – New Zealand’s oldest city is becoming our newest city.
So once again, welcome to Christchurch. Please enjoy all that the wonderful Canterbury region has to offer.