23 Feb 2018

EQC overhaul: 'Being stuck in limbo is unacceptable'

3:15 pm on 23 February 2018

The chair of the EQC board has resigned, as the government vows to speed up all remaining Canterbury earthquake claims.

Megan Woods - the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission - announced today that an independent Ministerial advisor will be sent in to EQC to help speed up the remaining claims.

"I've made it clear I am not satisfied with where EQC is at in respect of the Canterbury Earthquake work seven years on from the February 22nd event. For the around 2600 people with unresolved claims, being stuck in limbo is unacceptable. We've got to see faster progress for these people so that they can get their lives back on track.

"Today I have accepted the resignation of Sir Maarten Wevers, chair of the EQC board, and I thank him for his service. Next week I will be appointing an interim chair to oversee the changes I believe need to be made to speed up this process.

She said EQC staff had been working hard to settle the issue, but "extra assistance" was required.

Ms Woods said the government is determined to help people still struggling to get their claim, so they could move on with their lives.

"This work will help make that happen."

Ms Woods said the advisor would report directly to her, and she intended for the role to be filled by a senior public servant who would also work with MBIE around wider insurance issues.

Yesterday marked seven years since the 6.3 magnitude earthquake claimed 185 lives, and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes.

In a statement, Sir Maarten said he resigned after receiving a letter from Ms Woods yesterday, "expressing her displeasure with the performance of the Commission".

"It is clear that the Minister has no confidence in the Board and staff of the Commission. As Chair, I take responsibility for that, and have stepped aside so that the Minister can appoint someone whom she assesses will be able to do a better job"

He said there were still 2600 oustanding claims. With more than 470,000 lodged, that meant less than 0.6 percent were unresolved, but this was of "no comfort to the Board, management and staff".

"I leave with great regret that I won't be able to continue to lend my support to Commission staff and management over the last few steps on our journey together. I will be letting them down," Sir Maarten said.

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