Minister for Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee has announced 9,700 properties in Christchurch's Port Hills area have been zoned green, although 3,700 remain in the undecided 'white zone' category as investigations continue.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Anne Tolley has announced the government will open a new trades academy in Christchurch with room for 75 students a year, while also expanding the capacity of the Canterbury Tertiary College by almost four times.
After Cabinet met in Christchurch through Monday, Brownlee said it had signed off on the rezoning of 9,700 Port Hills properties to green from white.
"This means these homeowners can now get on with the process of repairing or rebuilding their homes if they were damaged by the earthquakes," Brownlee said in a media release.
"This means these homeowners can now get on with the process of repairing or rebuilding their homes if they were damaged by the earthquakes," he said.
But 3,700 properties were still in limbo over how they were zoned.
"The issues in the Port Hills are different to those in the low lying plains areas where there has generally been widespread land damage from liquefaction and lateral spreading. In the Port Hills, the issues have largely involved potential rock fall, cliff collapse, land slips and risks of that nature," Brownlee said.
Extensive geotechnical assessment supported the decision to rezone most of the Port Hills to green as it had shown a low geotechnical hazard risk.
"There will be some cases in these newly classified green zone areas where properties have land damage which may require further geotechnical assessment before building or rebuilding can occur. This will be dealt with by EQC and insurance companies under normal insurance processes," Brownlee said.
More Port Hills land was likely to be rezoned green soon, once further investigation and assessment was completed.
"For some others in the Port Hills it will take a bit longer while some complex issues involving life safety risks and geotechnical hazards are worked through with the Christchurch City Council," Brownlee said.
"I understand it’s frustrating for people having to wait, but we’ve got to make sure we fully understand the risks and options around this land. Everything possible is being done to give people certainty as soon as we can," he said.
More training places
Education Minister Anne Tolley announced the National Trade Academy in Christchurch had been selected as one of ten new providers around the country for government funding for training places.
“This new Trades Academy, which is set to offer 75 places after mid-2012, will provide students with access to courses in agriculture, horticulture, equine studies and forestry,” Tolley said.
“It will give 16 and 17 year olds the opportunity to combine their schooling with skills and technology training in a tertiary and workplace environment, making them better-prepared for successful careers or further study,” she said.
The existing Trades Academy in Christchurch, the Canterbury Tertiary College, would be extended, Tolley said.
Its current capacity of 148 students would be expanded to provide places for 550 students next year, with courses on offer likely to include electrical engineering, carpentry, engineering and construction, plumbing, painting and decorating, plasterboard, masonry, computing and business administration, agriculture, hospitality and automotive engineering.
“The Canterbury Tertiary College, with Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology as the lead provider, has established some excellent programmes in trades and technology training,” Tolley added.
“By expanding the number of places and the types of courses on offer, this will help build the skills base among young people in Canterbury, and support the rebuild of Christchurch, as well as contributing to the local economy," she said.
“Government investment of NZ$63.1 million in Budget 2011 will enable us to increase student places in Trades Academies from over 700 to 2000 in 2012, and increase the number of Trades Academies from eight to 21, as we provide more opportunities for young people to access skills training while earning worthwhile qualifications, free of charge.”