18 May 2012

Westpac deepens commitment to Christchurch rebuild

Westpac New Zealand has deepened its commitment to Christchurch with the appointment of a new Executive Director to drive and oversee its role in the rebuild.

John Johnston has been appointed Westpac’s Executive Director, Head of Christchurch Recovery, responsible for identifying opportunities where Westpac can make a difference in supporting Christchurch recover more quickly. Opportunities will be wide ranging and are expected to cover business, infrastructure and community initiatives.

Westpac New Zealand Chief Executive officer, Peter Clare, said the new role underlined the Bank’s commitment to playing a key and influential role in the rebuild.

“The rebuild is a once in a generation opportunity and how businesses react to it has the potential to define them for decades to come,” Mr Clare said.

“Westpac has a long and strong association with the people of Christchurch and the broader Canterbury community and is committed to playing a key role in getting business back on its feet, restoring key infrastructure and helping communities re-establish themselves.

“There is a massive job ahead and the Government cannot be expected to do it on its own. The private sector does have a role and responsibility and taking a business as usual approach will not cut it or benefit the people of Christchurch.”

Mr Johnston, Westpac’s former Head of Government Relations, who will relocate to Christchurch with his wife and two children, said the new role will focus on being proactive and helping create opportunity to aid momentum.

“Such is the size and complexity of the task ahead that every part of our business will be touched in some way and a co-ordinated pan-Bank approach is essential for us to be effective,” Mr Johnston said.

“The rebuild is going to take a number of years and the city needs strong and reliable partners as it re-establishes itself. Westpac is one of those partners.”

The new role is the latest Westpac initiative in Christchurch. It follows the establishment of The Westpac Business and Community Hub that provides free services to Christchurch businesses impacted by the quakes, the establishment of the Canterbury Care Fund to help get community facilities back up and running, the White Lights of Hope that shone over the city for more than a year and several community based activities.