After 100 days in the job Christchurch City Council chief executive Karleen Edwards believes it is capable of taking control of the city's rebuilding in 2016.
The powers of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority are due to be transferred from the Crown back to the city in two years.
She told the local chamber of commerce she believed the recent restructuring at the council would enable it to do the job effectively.
She said the Government's announcement on the transition was a clear sign of confidence in the council's leadership.
"But we need to step up to the plate. We need to meet, or exceed those expectations to be able to take on that role."
Dr Edwards said the previous council was not set up to deal with the earthquake, but she concedes no-one was.
A Christchurch business leader puts the reconstruction at about 30 percent complete.
Chamber of commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said although many of the least-complicated repairs have been finished, the more difficult jobs lie ahead.
Mr Townsend also told the meeting that he had revised his own completion figures up from about 10 percent.
He said the earthquake recovery was further advanced than some had thought, and the least-damaged parts of the city have been cleaned up.
But Mr Townsend said the rebuilding of major infrastructure was yet to take off, and just half of about 25,000 damaged homes have been repaired.