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EQC boss Ian Simpson new head of GNS

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/09/2016 Paul McBeth

Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson will leave the government's disaster insurance scheme head up the geological research unit GNS Science from next year.

Simpson will leave EQC at the end of 2016, ending a six-year tenure that spanned the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes in Canterbury that devastated Christchurch, the country's second-biggest city.

Since then, EQC has resolved 84 per cent of the 80,432 properties assessed for land damage, completed 99.6 per cent of the 67,885 homes under the Canterbury repair programme, and has wrapped up the bulk of 166,972 valid claims, 59 per cent of which were cash settlements with the remainder managed repairs.

"Over the past six years he has led the organisation's remarkable and unprecedented response to the Canterbury earthquakes - the largest and most costly insurance events in New Zealand's history," EQC chair Maarten Wevers said in a statement.

"Ian's leadership of EQC since 4 September 2010 has been outstanding. As so many others did, he stepped up as a leader to deal with the very difficult circumstances of the time. His contribution has been significant."

Those quakes essentially drained the national disaster fund and the government put out a series of proposals to overhaul the EQC's governing legislation to try to simplify future claims and resolve difficulties between land and building cover highlighted by the Canterbury quakes.

EQC will start looking for a replacement CEO shortly, it said.

Gerry Brownlee, the minister responsible for EQC, paid tribute to Simpson, who he said oversaw one of the biggest responses to any natural disaster anywhere in the world.

"It is encouraging that Ian has accepted the position of chief executive of GNS Science," Brownlee said.

"Combining the expertise of having managed disaster response with the forward-looking science of natural disaster risk assessment should see GNS further enhance its world-class reputation."

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