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Cera lost its way after a good start

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/02/2017
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The auditor-general has released a report that says the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) got off to a good start then lost its way.

The report presented to parliament on Wednesday makes a number of suggestions about how to do thing better in future.

These include the need for clarity about what a recovery agency should achieve by the end of its lifetime, and the need to regularly assess skills and capabilities.

Lyn Provost, the controller and auditor-general, said Cera did well early on in the recovery.

It managed the demolition of condemned buildings in the central business district effectively and was also effective in leading a coordinated government response to the earthquakes.

But it found it challenging to maintain momentum.

Its role became less clear as it took on more responsibility for delivering more projects and programmes.

"In my view, both Cera and the Christchurch City Council were not as open or transparent with one another as is required for an effective recovery. This caused delays in some programmes," she says.

Cera did not engage the community well, and struggled to demonstrate its effectiveness and value for money because it had inadequate performance measures and information.

It also took a long time for Cera to set up effective systems and controls.

Cera's management controls and performance information needed improvement right up to the time of its disestablishment.

The report, focused on Cera, is the last in a series on the Canterbury earthquake recovery by the auditor-general.

Cera was set up in 2011 to lead and co-ordinate the recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes and was disestablished last year, its roles transferring to others.

In 2010 and 2011, the Canterbury region suffered New Zealand's worst natural disaster since the Napier earthquake in 1931. The Canterbury earthquakes killed 185 people, injured about 5800 people, damaged more than 100,000 homes, destroyed much of Christchurch's central business district, and badly damaged infrastructure.

The recovery task was unprecedented in New Zealand.

Over five years, Cera spent $4 billion on a wide range of programmes and projects.

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