29 Nov 2016

The state of local emergency that has been in place for the Canterbury region since the Kaikōura earthquake on November 14 will be extended for a further week.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, on behalf of the member Mayors on the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Joint Committee, said while the immediate emergency need had lessened, there were still some situations where it was useful to retain the powers provided by the declaration.

Draft legislation was before Parliament which would strengthen the legislative framework for recovery. The legislation was expected to be passed under urgency this week.

“It would be good to have this seamless transition from response to recovery and for that reason it is recommended that the current declaration be extended for a further week,” Mayor Dalziel said. “Once the recovery legislation is passed, consideration could be given to terminating the emergency declaration and implementing the transition to recovery powers.”

Meanwhile, the NZ Transport Agency says increasing public access in and out of Kaikoura via the inland road (Route 70) is an urgent priority as crews continue working to restore the severe damage wrought by the November 14 earthquake.

Control of the road was formally transferred for the NZ Transport Agency earlier today by the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

Transport Agency contractors and local work crews have been working since the day of the quake from both ends of the road to clear slips, inspect bridges and get the road to a state where it can be used safely.

NZ Transport Agency Regional Performance Manager Pete Connors said while the inland road between Kaikoura and Mt Lyford was still a very fragile and hazardous route, good progress was being made and controlled access for military vehicles and essential services had been established.

Following the successful convoy of private vehicles out of Kaikoura last Friday, the Transport Agency would be scheduling more regular opportunities for supervised travel in and out of Kaikoura on the route from tomorrow.

“We’ve now established a daily schedule and we’ve set up a website and phone number where people can register to travel. For safety reasons only people that have registered with the Transport Agency will be able to travel during the scheduled times,” Mr Connors said.  

“We know how important this connection is for people in Kaikoura and others who live along the route, and our focus is on making the road safe so we can open it the public with fewer restrictions as soon as soon as possible.”

Mr Connors said contractors were also working hard to re-establish access to and from Kaikoura from the south via State Highway 1, with work crews currently clearing several large slips and rockfalls. The Transport Agency was aiming to restore controlled, single lane access for residents and essential services on the road by mid-December, dependent on weather and any further earthquakes.

While some work has been carried out on SH1 north of Kaikoura to restore access for local residents and emergency services, Mr Connors said with the risk of on-going large aftershocks, conditions were still too unstable to safely allow geotechnical engineers onto some of the largest slips to carry out detailed inspections.

“Given the scale and the complexity of the damage to SH1 north of Kaikoura, our immediate focus is on securing the inland road as a lifeline for Kaikoura, and re-storing access via SH1 from the south as soon as possible.”

Details of the daily travel schedule for the inland road (route 70) and information on how to register are available on the NZ Transport Agency website(external link).