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Joining Canterbury residents on 22 February for the fifth anniversary earthquake Memorial Service in Christchurch, and standing with others as the names of those who lost their lives were read out, was a sombre experience.

It’s a reminder that five years is a very long time when you are battling frustrations in your own personal recovery journey and I know from my own career working in mental health that international research shows years three to seven are some of the most challenging for psychological and social recovery. If you or someone you know still needs some help please do get in touch.

Driving back after the service, I was heartened to see how far we have come in achieving the recovery of our region.  The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill which will be passed early this year will shift Christchurch from earthquake recovery to urban regeneration. Christchurch is rebuilding – and the wonderful   Margaret Mahy Family Playground is the latest in a long list of projects either completed or close to completion – Hagley Oval, the Bus Interchange, Earthquake Memorial and the Retail, Innovation, Avon River and Justice and Emergency Services Precincts. 

In the Waimakariri, we have also come far. 2015 was a year of openings and milestones as we moved forward. Looking ahead, we can anticipate a number of exciting possibilities around the future use of our residential red zones. Some wonderful ideas have been put forward and I urge everyone to have their say on the preliminary draft Waimakariri Residential Red Zone Recovery Plan. We might not have been able to anticipate the Canterbury earthquake events but we can be part of shaping how we want our community to look going forward.

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