Just when people in Christchurch thought things were starting to pick up after the September 2010 7.1 magnitude earthquake, they were hit by another on February 22. This magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck closer to the earth’s surface, in the middle of a business day, causing incredible devastation. While many of us watched the unbelievable scenes unfold on TV and the internet, it’s hard to really comprehend the damage, disruption and the long term effects unless you are actually there.

Up to 30% of all buildings in the CBD will be coming down including some very big ones. The iconic Grand Chancellor Hotel will be demolished once they are able to determine the safest way to bring it down. By the time they are finished, there may only be a handful of buildings above 10 stories left in the entire CBD.

Immediately following the earthquake, there were hundreds of business suddenly looking for new premises. According to Tony Hansen, Temperzone's Christchurch Branch Manager, “there was an overnight shortage of commercial space. And even if you found a new location to work from (many are working from homes) you lost all your computers, files, backups, etc. They are slowly letting people back in to some buildings, but no one is allowed in the Red Zone.“

“We consider ourselves to be some of the fortunate ones. We were just on the border of the CBD so we didn’t have any access restrictions. We engaged our own engineers who decided that the building wasn’t safe. We just went in to retrieve things briefly but are not allowed to work there, it’s too dangerous. Temperzone are taking the longer term view on this which I am very pleased about. It’s going to take a long time for this city to pick itself up, and get things running fully again.”

Even those businesses that were lucky enough to find new premises are still finding it tough. NZ Telecom was located right in the middle of Cathedral Square. Not only do they have to rebuild their own business, but they have to restore service to everyone else as well.

The Winter Heat Program is an initiative set up by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) that is being run by New Zealand’s largest building company Fletcher’s. Homes whose primary heat source has been lost through earthquake damage (mostly through loss of chimney) are having heating equipment installed or repaired. There are 10 000 homes which are considered to be urgent with 25 000 to 30 000 homes affected in total.With the limited time available before winter, installation of a heat pump is the recommended winter heating solution. One of the criteria for this project is that the units are both ENERGY STAR certified and H2 rated. (H1 and H2 rating refer to the heat output performance of heat pumps, with H1 at 7°C and H2 at 2°C.)The Hitachi Splits meet both these criteria which is why Tony Hanson and the South Island team are part of the Winter Heat Program. Tony said that,” Because of the size of this project, all the major brands including ourselves are involved. But because they decided that the expedient way to do it was to have the big brands run it and employ the sub-contractors, this thing has been completely turned on its head. People that were our customers are now our sub-contractors. It’s taken a whole new set of systems and processes to put in place.”

“The potential is there for us to sell 1000's of heat pumps over the next 2 years. While no one wished this, at least it will mean a solid sales stream until the reconstruction really starts. There will be billions of dollars’ worth of commercial work down the track, but we won’t see a lot of it till next year or the year after.”

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Articles this Issue


Like many businesses in Christchurch, Temperzone was forced to relocate its offices due to earthquake damage. As the reconstruction gets underway in devastated Christchurch, Temperzone has been installing urgently needed heat pumps.


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