The plan sets out the framework for organising our collective efforts and delivering actions to make sure our city’s economic and social recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is deliberate, strong and fair.

People sitting in the sun outside the Riverside Market

Ōtautahi Christchurch Recovery Plan

Our goal for Ōtautahi Christchurch is that, through deliberate actions, our contribution to national, regional and local recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 is above the national performance average against a range of chosen indicators.

Read the Ōtautahi Christchurch Recovery Plan [PDF, 2.3 MB]

(external link)Who’s involved

Christchurch City Council in partnership with mana whenua share overarching leadership of the Plan.

Actions are being delivered in collaboration with ChristchurchNZ, the Council family of companies held by Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCHL), iwi and rūnanga entities, central government agencies and crown entities, regional and local authorities, the private sector, and community groups and organisations (such as NGOs).

What the plan does

Check out The Action Plan: Organising and delivering action [PDF, 175 KB] infographic.

Having an integrated plan means we can bring together a clear, evidence-based understanding of the breadth and depth of the impacts locally and focus on appropriate actions.

It means we can build a coherent and comparative picture of the challenges created by Covid-19 and our progress, which will shape our ongoing recovery actions.

We are organising our response to Covid-19 across three horizons. We need to respond now, recover fast, and reposition sustainably and for the long term.

Key indicators

Key indicators include economic activity, unemployment and workforce participation rates, the number of young people not in employment, education or training, and the rate of unemployment for Cantabrians - particularly Māori and Pasifika.

In addition, we are regularly monitoring a much wider range of economic and social indicators, so that we have a full picture and can move quickly to adapt actions as required and grasp or create opportunities.

As the gateway city to the South Island, we faced a sudden and deep change to the visitor economy as a result of closed borders and lockdowns.

For Ōtautahi Christchurch, the people and sectors most severely affected by the pandemic include:

  • tourism and related businesses (including retail, hospitality, accommodation sectors).
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • youth, Māori, Pasifika and people in the 45-55 age bracket.
  • graduates leaving universities and tertiary institutions going into the labour market.
  • people with pre-existing vulnerabilities.
  • The number of Jobseeker Support recipients in Canterbury increased 47 per cent from 13,256 in the first week of January 2020 (pre-Covid-19) to 19,431 in the week ending 27 November 2020 (compared to a 39 per cent increase across New Zealand).

Although international visitor spending in Canterbury has fallen dramatically since the border closures (September 2020 saw a 62% decrease on the same time last year), domestic visitor spending in Canterbury is still strong (a 26% increase on the same time last year), and overall retail spending reached $469 million in September 2020 (9% higher than for the same month last year).

The least impacted sectors have been:

  • essential service businesses (including primary industries).

The impact on export activity has also been minor to date, although many importers and exporters have faced significant supply-chain disruptions which are expected to continue and change in nature for some time.

New initiatives, policy changes and work programmes were part of the immediate response to the pandemic's impact.

Communities, businesses and organisations, central government agencies and crown entities, regional and local authorities, and the Council and its entities moved quickly from the beginning of the pandemic, to minimise the impacts of Covid-19 as they unfolded. 

Some of the actions included:

  • Up to six months’ deferral of City Council rates for businesses and homeowners.
  • Business survival support services for thousands of city businesses.
  • Domestic roll-out of an #ExploreCHC destination brand in collaboration with regional partners to attract domestic leisure visitors and offset huge disruption in the tourism industry.
  • Initiation of a ‘buy local’ campaign.
  • Air freight support measures.
  • Tourism-related businesses pivoting to domestic markets.
  • Fast-tracking of ‘shovel ready’ projects.
  • A national Jobs for Nature programme.
  • A time-bound national wage subsidy and subsequent extension.
  • Distribution of funds to community groups and NGOs.
  • Establishment of a city-wide innovation partnership to support start-up businesses.
  • A three-month rent holiday for City Council’s commercial tenants.

Nine workstreams drive action towards our immediate to longer-term horizons.

Business survival/jobs retention

This workstream provides assistance and advice to support businesses to continue trading through disruptive periods and retain people in employment.

It is led by ChristchurchNZ and helps businesses access the support they need, have up-to-date information about Government fiscal policies and economic support measures, and ensure that these services are designed to meet the needs of local businesses and industries.

Financial assistance

Led by the Ministry of Social Development, it focuses on ensuring that those individuals, whānau and community groups find out about and get the financial assistance - whether this is through central or local government agencies or community-based organisations

Health, wellbeing and identity 

Christchurch City Council and Community and Public Health (Canterbury District Health Board) lead this workstream, which promotes wellbeing and awareness of the services and advice available for individuals, whānau and communities to recover, adapt, thrive and be self-sufficient.

It will encourage and support a strong sense of self-efficacy (or agency), connectedness, calm and hope to enable individuals, whānau and communities to look after themselves and lead their own recovery. 

Productive infrastructure

Local government is a vital contributor to recovery. Expenditure on maintaining, renewing, replacing and building below- and above-ground infrastructure assets contributes significantly to local jobs and businesses.

Christchurch City Council will invest in sustainable-built infrastructure that generates jobs in the short term and creates a platform for a more productive and sustainable city into the future.

Labour market transition

The long-term resilience and competitiveness of local businesses can be improved by increasing the education level and adaptability of the current and future labour force. This is particularly pertinent to communities of interest such as Māori, Pasifika, ethnic communities and disadvantaged people.

Working together, the Ministry of Social Development and ChristchurchNZ will ensure individuals and whānau can identify and access the appropriate pathways and support, whether this is through central or local government agencies, the local tertiary education sector and/or industry training organisations.

City vibrancy and visitor economy

Pre-Covid-19 the visitor economy was worth $4.9 billion or 16.4% of Christchurch’s economy, employing 69,600 people and supporting 8,800 businesses.

Visitors stimulate the economy and also generate opportunities to increase the profile of the city nationally and internationally, build deeper business relationships, exchange knowledge, attract talent and investment, and grow international trading channels. 

Through destination marketing, major and business events and enhancing the destination experience, ChristchurchNZ will lead work to reactivate the sustainable visitor economy and visitor spending.


Christchurch City Council and Community & Public Health (Canterbury District Health Board) will lead work to support community-led initiatives that strengthen the social, cultural, economic and environmental connections of local communities. 

This will build and foster a sense of inclusion, belonging and diversity which encourages and empowers people to take part in social, cultural, economic and political life.

Confident city

Cultivating confidence, advocacy and resident pride is fundamental to establishing a strong economic recovery.

ChristchurchNZ will lead collaboration across city organisations and sectors to deliver projects that enhance resident advocacy and pride, increase confidence in Christchurch and ultimately helping to attract new migrants, businesses, and investment.

Smart, sustainable city

This workstream supports long-term activities that reposition the city to achieve inter-generational strategic goals for improving prosperity, innovation, community wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

We need to make sure our people, economy and urban area have the capacity and resilience to adapt to change, that it’s seen as an attractive place to live, work and invest, and contribute more to national wellbeing and prosperity.

This work will be led by Christchurch City Council through the Greater Christchurch 2050 programme.

Tracking our progress against key performance indicators and comparisons with national data.

Regular reporting of socio-economic indicators and performance measures will enable reviews by our partners’ management and governing bodies so that they can adapt actions and workstreams as required.

Key indicators of our recovery progress include:

  1. Canterbury Economic Activity Index.
  2. Unemployment rate.
  3. Workforce participation rate.
  4. Rate of people aged 15 to 25 years who are not in employment, education or training.
  5. Unemployment rate for Cantabrians, particularly Māori and Pasifika.

View our progress on these and a wider range of indicators.(external link)

Quarterly recovery snapshots

COVID socio-economic recovery plan quarterly snapshot as at March 2021 [PDF, 90 KB]

COVID socio-economic recovery plan quarterly snapshot as at December 2020 [PDF, 96 KB]

We all need to be part of this recovery if we want it to be city-wide, and fair, with no one left behind.

Community-led recovery action is vital and will help make sure already-vulnerable people and communities are not overlooked nor are they left worse off economically or socially from the impacts of Covid-19.

Ways you can be part of leading recovery

Talk to Christchurch City Council or one of the other agencies if you think you would benefit from one of the current workstreams’ actions, you want to play a role in recovery, or you have your own action to suggest to contribute to our city-wide recovery.

Agency contacts:

Support local businesses and events and explore a favourite or a new place or activity.

Look out for anyone in your whānau, network of friends, workplace or community who might like someone to listen to them, support them or to help them reach out.

Keep a watch out for funding opportunities that could help you realise a great idea you / your group or local community has to stimulate recovery.

Tap into the many organisations and communities of interest we have across our city – we have a wealth of experience, connections, energy and resilience between us.