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REGIONS ASIA-PACIFIC


Alesson in resilience C


THEMAYORSPEAKS: LIANNEDALZIEL


THE MAYOR OF THE NEWZEALAND CITY OF CHRISTCHURCH TALKS TO WENDY ATKINS ABOUT WEATHERING ECONOMIC STORMS


CURRICULUMVITAE LIANNE DALZIEL


2013 Christchurch Mayor


Previously Member of parliament


CITYPROFILE CHRISTCHURCH


Country New Zealand


Population 400,000


UrbanGDP NZ$6.224bn


Unemployment 5.3%


redited for its effective response to the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand is viewed with envy by the rest of world,


which is watching on as the country returns to something resembling the pre-pandemic normal. The tough measures employed to keep the


nation’s virus levels low have had a considera- ble impact on key sectors, such as travel. On the South Island city of Christchurch,


the people are used to responding to shocks. As its mayor, Lianne Dalziel, explains: “Our focus on building community resilience is all about supporting communities to connect with each other and enabling themto own their future.” Christchurch learned about its capacity for


resilience in the aftermath of the 2010/2011 earthquakes which devastated the city, and the 2019 terrorist attack on two local mosques, which resulted in the loss of 51 lives. “We learned that being a resilient city is not


just about what we do to prepare for and respond to those shocks and disruptions — for example, strengthened buildings and flexible pipes,” says Mayor Dalziel. “It is just as much about how we go about readying ourselves for anything thatmay happen—bynurturing part- nerships, working collaboratively, building local capability and networks, and putting peo- ple at the centre of all our planning, no matter what the issue is.” It is this resilience that the city aims to draw


on to cope with the economic cost of the pan- demic. As the gateway to the South Island for many international visitors, the closure of the country’s borders to overseas tourists and visi- tors in mid-March 2020 had an immediate and significant impact on Christchurch’s tourism sector, visitor economy and activities, and relatedemployment. “The hospitality, retail, tourism, interna-


tional education and accommodation sectors have been particularly hard hit,” reveals Ms Dalziel. Other challenges include the delay in the


construction of large-scale civic facilities due to the lockdown, which has delayed the import of materials as well as restricting travel by critical personnel. “There has been a reasonable bounce back in


local economic activity as the inability to travel overseas has encouraged NewZealanders to visit different parts of the country,andthe ‘buy local’


62


messages have resonated very strongly with the local population,” she continues. “In the longer term, I believe we will benefit


greatly from New Zealand’s response to Covid-19, as people look to our country for a better way of life.”


Building back ChristchurchNZ, the city’s Economic Development Agency, aims to future-proof the regional economy through ‘Supernodes’ — stra- tegic strength sectors including global health tech; aerospace and future transport; food fibre and agritech; and hi-tech solutions. “Each of these enables us to frame our regional strengths in the context of global opportunities,” explains MsDalziel. She adds: “Canterbury’s sophisticated agri-


cultural and manufacturing sectors, as well as our hub of tertiary and research institutions, provide a strong base to leverage our strengths while taking on global growth opportunities.” ChristchurchNZ is also rolling out initiatives


targeted at innovators, including a citywide partnership agreement with the University of Canterbury and the Ara Institute of Technology to kick-start and support start-ups and innova- tion. This includes incubation programmes, innovation challenges, business mentoring and access to investor and commercial networks. Mayor Dalziel reports: “As a city, we say,


Ōtautahi Christchurch is a city of opportunity for all—open tonewideas,newpeople andnew ways of doing things — a city where anything is possible.”■


www.fDiIntelligence.com February/March 2021


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