A week ago, calamity struck the beautiful city of Christchurch and many of its 370,000 people. Throughout New Zealand and the world, people share the shock, and have mobilized support, sending messages, rescuers, practical help and money. But no-one from outside can really appreciate the scale and agony of the catastrophe and its personal impacts upon family, friends and business colleagues, despite the many caring and insightful words, pictures and interviews provided for us. I feel humble that I cannot adequately express my solidarity with Christchurch in this Opinion Piece, but conversely cannot write a “business as usual” monthly blog to you. So may I find a positive within the disaster, by praising the people whose leadership in these first seven days has been superb.

The Herald editorial of Saturday carried the headline “Leadership and Communication Keys in Recovery”, acknowledging the outstanding leadership performance of John Key and Bob Parker. This morning, Art Agnos, Mayor of San Francisco in their 1989 earthquake, stated that Mayor Parker had done everything right – being visible, honest, articulate, giving comfort, hope and information to his devastated citizens. The British USAR team leader has praised New Zealand’s quality of disaster response planning and organization, as planned and delivered by the leaders of our civil defence, police, rescue, health, military, power, water, communications and engineering organizations. And as the crisis moves from its cataclysmic event into the enormously long, hard and costly recovery and rebuild, other leaders and opinion-formers are speaking – Government Ministers; CEO Forum; leaders of business, community and churches; architects; high profile citizens and international experts who have experienced such a rebuilding challenge. Of these many, I would single out Garry Moore and Peter Townsend for bringing the city and country their visions of Christchurch 150 years out. Exciting visions, which provide a sorely needed lift in morale to their people and justify a faith that Christchurch will again be a fine place to live, work and invest.

When the overarching concept and spatial plan for the new Christchurch is determined, an additional leadership skill-set will be called for – to harness resources, to prioritize, to get things done – to build a new city. Alongside that massive task remains the harder political and economic challenge – to hold the hearts and minds of every one of us staunch to the necessary national sacrifice required to restore our second city to vibrancy.

Christchurch – you are family. We must be with you all the way. A 6th Generation Son of Christchurch,