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The Earthquake Commission knew David Seymour was the new Minister responsible for EQC and Southern Response but Seymour's office thought it was someone else

Insurance / news
The Earthquake Commission knew David Seymour was the new Minister responsible for EQC and Southern Response but Seymour's office thought it was someone else

A Treasury briefing made public on Thursday has a carefully worded message for the new Minister responsible for the Toka Tū Ake Earthquake Commission and Southern Response Earthquake Services.

“Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response operate at arm’s length from Ministers,” the document says.

“This means that you are able to direct Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response in certain respects, however, this is a mechanism that we would advise only be used in exceptional circumstances.”

But who in the new government is the Minister in charge of this? 

The Treasury’s briefing was for the Minister of Finance – which is Nicola Willis – but the new minister responsible for Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response appears to be David Seymour.

However when Seymour’s office was contacted on Thursday to confirm this, was told EQC was overseen by Chris Penk – not Seymour.

Penk is the new Minister for Land Information, Veterans, Building and Construction and Associate Minister of Defence and Immigration. then went to Chris Penk’s office who said it was overseen by Seymour – not Penk.

After contacting the Earthquake Commission, the agency said on Thursday that Seymour was indeed the new Minister responsible for Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response.

But when Seymour’s office was contacted again on Friday morning to confirm this, his office was still unsure if the delegation was correct and needed to check.

They confirmed later Friday that Seymour is indeed the new Minister responsible for Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response.

Due to the Treasury briefing being to the Minister of Finance, it’s assumed that Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response are now in Seymour’s court because he’s the Associate Minister of Finance.

Seymour is also the Minister of Regulation and the Associate Minister of Health (Pharmac), and Education (Partnership Schools) and will become deputy Prime Minister from May 25th next year after current Deputy PM Winston Peters surrenders the role.

The arm's length model

The Treasury says given the "arm’s length model," the three “most important levers” available to the new Minister to influence these entities’ performance as follows:

  • Being clear about the Crown’s purposes for establishment and the continued operation of the entities
  • The appointment of high-performing, effective Board members
  • Participation in the annual business planning and reporting process, including setting clear ownership, legislative, and Ministerial expectations.

“Your key opportunities to influence Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response’s strategic direction and performance expectations, annually, are through the Letter of Expectations and signing off the Service Agreement (a statement of performance expectations) with the boards,” Treasury says.

The briefing – which was written last year – says the Minister’s Letter of Expectations is usually provided to Toka Tū Ake EQC and Southern Response in October/November.

“The boards subsequently provide the Service Agreement to you at the end of April. This allows you to sign off on the boards’ proposed performance expectations for the upcoming financial year.”

Under matters of current interest, board appointments are a big one. Treasury says it provided advice to the Minister in December 2023 regarding director terms ending by June 30 2024 and vacancies on boards.

Three commissioners at Toka Tū Ake EQC have terms due to end by mid-2024 with Treasury noting that decisions needed to be sought by early December 2023 to “ensure sufficient time to call for nominations over the summer holiday period and complete the board appointment process”.

All terms for the four board members on the Southern Response board will expire on June 30.

“This is because the entity was due to complete its work at this time. This is now looking unlikely as there are outstanding claims to be worked through,” Treasury says.

Three of the four board members on the Independent Oversight Committee will also expire at the end of June, with one member’s term due to expire at the end of March.

The Natural Hazards Insurance Act

Later this year the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 (EQC Act) is being repealed and replaced by the Natural Hazards Insurance Act 2023 (NHI Act) from July 1.

Treasury says Toka Tū Ake EQC has drawn down $240 million from the Crown, with the last payment made in November 2020 and currently pays the Crown an annual fee of $10 million for this guarantee.  

The $10 million annual fee will no longer be required under the NHI Act.

Treasury says Toka Tū Ake EQC is currently working to operationalise the NHI Act requirements in time for its commencement, with assistance from the Treasury.

Also of interest is the mention of the Funding and Risk Management Statement (FRMS) which Treasury says must be developed every five years “to provide transparency” about cost-sharing between the Natural Hazard Fund and the Crown –including how the settings are determined and to communicate the strategy for funding the costs of claims."

“Work is currently underway to develop and publish the first FRMS by 1 July 2024. You must present the FRMS to Parliament,” Treasury says.

Included in Treasury’s briefing was an update on residual Canterbury claims still left over from the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Toka Tū Ake EQC received around 469,000 claims after 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and subsequent events. All have been settled, however under the EQC Scheme claims can be reopened due to poor repair quality and/or missed damage,” Treasury says.

“As of 28 August 2023, Toka Tū Ake EQC advised that there are 810 reopened claims remaining. We expect that it will take several more years to resolve all the remaining  outstanding Canterbury earthquake claims.”

 There are also several outstanding legal cases against Toka Tū Ake EQC related to the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury quakes and subsequent events – Treasury says due to the nature of the cases, it has concerns over being unable to estimate or budget for costs.

“As at 30 June 2023 there were 24 open litigation cases made up of 19 Canterbury earthquake sequence claims and five Kaikōura earthquake claims.”

Treasury also notes in the briefing that Toka Tū Ake EQC received 3,339 claims for Cyclone Gabrielle and 4,313 claims for the Upper North Island flooding event.

As of August 28 last year, Toka Tū Ake EQC advised that the total number of EQCover claims resolved for Cyclone Gabrielle was 835 and 1,091 for the Upper North Island flooding event.

“We expect Toka Tū Ake EQC to continue to receive claims and for it to take several years to resolve all remaining and incoming claims.”

Exploring options for Southern Response shutting up shop

Treasury says it has also been working to explore options for the eventual closing of Southern Response and the work has been outlined to Southern Response in its 2023/24 Letter of Expectations.

“We will provide further advice on this matter as work progresses.”

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Did ACT public service cuts already get rid of the person that would have normally informed David Seymour that he had EQC?


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

Won't get fooled again.

I can see why he may not to be this minister.....    



Is the media turning over a new leaf in regard to holding Ministers accountable? Why the change?


I literally gave this story to media with OIAs nearly 2 years ago.

"The Health Ministry has admitted failings in its handling of contracts awarded to Tātou, a consultancy with close ties to former Cabinet minister Peeni Henare."


The worst part of the media will go, like iron filings to a magnet,and sway to any likelihood of funding in the offing. Hopefully this government does not engage in that practice.


The media now reporting the incorrect handling of a perceived conflict of interest...its chief executive was Henare's partner Skye Kimura FFS




Stuff don't even report it (perceived conflict of interest involving Henare). RNZ mention it, then bury it whilst carefully failing to state the party affiliation of "the former Cabinet Minister" in question (because it's Labour?).  However, front and center on the RNZ website is the supposedly critical revelation that Luxon's sister-in-law works for a tobacco company.  By this inferred crime of 'political conflict' it may mean that every member of Luxon's extended family may have to resign their employment because, I'm sure, Government policy is likely to touch on just about every sector of employment in this country.

Really, the political bias of some of our media knows no bounds in my humble opinion. 


Well, at the very least, Treasury can be happily assured that the Minister is operating more than "at arm's length" from EQC and Southern Response if Seymour doesn't even know it is his domain.


This new government has me worried. Very limited talent pool with not much depth down the order and inexperienced staffers. Can't see them being miracle workers.


Have you perhaps been hiding under a rock for the last 6 years?

Liebor went from a Majority in MMP to 26%, for the reason that 26% of the votors deserted them because they where that bad, this is one of the biggest defeats in history,  JA did not go down with the ship, being a coward she was on the first lifeboat... women and children etc....   Hippy and the band plays on, while the only media attention is around who will be co leader of a dysfunctional alt-left party      Its entirely possible, if Liebor does not return to its roots that the Greens could soon become bigger then Liebor.

This plays into the NAct hands, NO one wants to risk a Greens/Maori party dominated leadership. Especially white CIS males who will all be accused of being rapists and child abusers... not that the stats reflect this in any way.



So, it didn't matter if they're useless because there's no alternative? What a positive spin on the situation.


They are not useless but liebor was........    The people have spoken and Liebor where turfed out of the Waka


If someone is complaining about the pizza you love, maybe try pointing out the redeeming features of the pizza rather than talking about how awful the burger is.


"However when Seymour’s office was contacted on Thursday to confirm this, was told EQC was overseen by Chris Penk – not Seymour."


I'm minister for what? Minister Sminister, David justs wants to dance