It is important to recognise the environmental, social and economic linkages between the rebuild of Christchurch and the accelerated economic development of Canterbury.
Christchurch is still very much a smart market town and the interdependency is best illustrated by how the rural economy helped support the city in the immediate post-earthquake environment. GDP in Canterbury is now 11.7% above pre-earthquake levels and the hinterland of Canterbury contributes over a $1 billion of GDP to our regional economy.
Between 2008 and 2012 the Canterbury economy grew by 30%. Much of that can be attributed to changes in farming types, intensity, and productivity in the rural sector. Importantly, between 2003 and 2012 we moved from 287,000ha of irrigated land to 440,000ha of irrigated land resulting in increased margins and productivity.
There are 3 critical components to the future of Canterbury and its relationship to the city:
We should never underestimate the importance of harvesting and farming water in Canterbury.
An excellent example of that is the Canterbury Plains Water Scheme, the first stage of which is nearing completion. That water scheme will provide enormous economic benefit to the region and to the city into the future.
Water management overall involves collaborative compromise with all parties agreeing to the objective of optimal environmental outcomes, and solid economic rationale all based on good data. The Canterbury Water Management Strategy is underpinning good progress being made in this extraordinary complex area.
Smart application of technology to our natural capital is what our “value added” future is all about.
There are smart innovations occurring right across our farming sector relating to the application of water, chemicals, farm management systems, genetics, soil types, and overall farming practices.
Use of clever technology will position our products at the top end of niche markets.
We must position our product offering on a platform of integrity. That is more than quality. It is about environmental sustainability, sustainable water use, animal welfare issues, human capital, traceability and clever supply chain management.
Every part of the product integrity equation requires justification which is dependent on collecting and using good data.
If we do these right, we can't be beaten
The combination of the clever use of water, the innovative application of technology, the positioning of Canterbury’s offerings on a platform of product integrity will ensure that we continue to punch above our weight as contributors to the national economy.
It will also ensure that as our city moves through the recovery process the increasing economic opportunities that will occur in our region will underpin the city’s aspirations and align those with our regions progress.
If we get these drivers right, we will be a region that will not be beaten.