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While Wellington’s economic activity was disrupted by Monday’s Kaikoura earthquake, it is rapidly returning to relative normality, in what the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) is calling a testament to the region’s resilience.
WREDA Chief Executive Chris Whelan says Wellington’s sympathies are with those who have suffered greater losses.
“Our thoughts, like all Kiwis, are with the people of Kaikoura, who have been most profoundly impacted, and Wellingtonians are ready to help.”
Mr Whelan says Wellingtonians have responded well to the region’s own disruption this week, which will minimise the impact to what has been a strong year for the local economy.
“It’s been pleasing to see so many businesses returning swiftly to full operation. Many Wellington companies and organisations have shown great capacity to have staff work remotely, and well-managed building inspection procedures have enabled tens of thousands of Wellingtonians to return to work swiftly and safely.”
Mr Whelan says while major structural impacts to some buildings will cause challenges for tenant businesses, only a fraction of the city is affected.
“The reports we’re seeing indicate that less than half of one percent of commercial buildings in Wellington City have experienced significant structural damage. That’s a tremendously resilient result overall.”
Mr Whelan said Wellington’s vibrant hospitality sector was already catering to locals and visitors.
“Cafes, bars and retailers were among the first to open their doors on Monday. Hotels in the city are all open, we have multi-day conferences at the Michael Fowler Centre, TSB Bank Arena & Shed 6, and performances at venues throughout Wellington.”
Mr Whelan said that some short-term impact on Wellington’s economic performance must be expected, but that the outlook is positive.
“Following the last decent shake in 2013, business confidence in Wellington recovered rapidly. Longer-term, the events of this week have reinforced the argument for further investment in Wellington’s infrastructure.”
Mr Whelan says it’s important that the people know that Wellington is safe to live and work in.
“Earthquakes are a fact of life in New Zealand, as in many parts of the Pacific Rim. Wellington’s seismic resilience has developed over many decades, and continues to improve, as this week has demonstrated. Damage to the city has been limited, nobody was seriously hurt, transport networks are up and running, and Wellington was largely back in business within 48 hours.”