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New Zealand: Legislation to Streamline Earthquake Recovery Efforts Passed

(Sept. 20, 2010) The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 was introduced and passed by the New Zealand Parliament on September 14, 2010, ten days after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure in the region. (New Zealand Parliamentary Library, Bills Digest No. 1805, Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill 2010 (Sept. 14, 2010),
: see also New Zealand Parliament, Parliament's Response to Canterbury Earthquake,
(last visited Sept. 16, 2010).)

The Act allows for orders in council to be made that exempt activities relating to the recovery and rebuilding process from particular legislative requirements, or to otherwise modify those requirements. (Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010, s 6,
.) Persons acting or omitting to act under the legislation will be protected from liability, provided that they do so in good faith. (Id.s 19.) Prior to introducing the legislation, the Minister responsible for coordinating the government's response to the earthquake, Gerry Brownlee, said that “[t]he building, local government and resource management acts are not designed for the special circumstances Canterbury faces. We don't want recovery work being slowed or stopped by filling out paper work.” (Press Release, Hon. Gerry Brownlee, Urgent Legislation to Help Canterbury Recovery (Sept. 13, 2010),

The Act also establishes the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission, which will be made up of three mayors from the region and four members appointed by the responsible Ministers. (Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010,s 9.) The Commission will liaise with and provide advice to the Ministers in relation to recovery activities and orders in council.

The legislation will expire no later than April 1, 2012. While it is in force, every order in council made under it will have the force of law. (Id. s 7.)