From Ken’s desk June 2011

The events of 22 February 2011 continue to challenge us here in the Garden City of Christchurch. We are through the immediate rescue and stabilising phase (ensuring people are safe and have shelter, food and warmth). We now move into a very challenging phase of rebuilding Christchurch and working out best how to undertake that. This will be a long and arduous process that is likely to take the better part of the next ten years.
 
Our own story at HMA is that we continue to have a high degree of uncertainty about what is happening with Westpark Tower. Our offices are located on the fourth floor of this nine storey building. The engineering firm BECA, who did the previous assessment after the September earthquake, has completed a further assessment on the building. Despite my very optimistic notion that there was little damage, they are worried about damage to the stairwell (this took a fairly major hit), as well as cracking to the beams. The upshot is that we are uncertain as to timeframes for either repair or demolition of the building. It is not impossible that the cost of repair will not make repair an insurer’s preference. If repair is the preferred option, then we are potentially looking at 9-12 months before we are likely to be back in the building.
 
As you can imagine this is distressing given the amount of time, energy and excitement that we had for the new place – we only moved in mid-December. We hadn’t even had time to christen our new high-tech training room. All of our resources (apart from our server and computers) are in the building and we are not allowed to take anything heavy down the stairs at this point (the lift is still to be assessed). We are working from various locations which certainly add a layer of additional complexity to everyday tasks. Our colour copier/printer is in the building so printing of training resources is now outsourced at additional expense.

We will be meeting in one month’s time where a final decision will be made on the fate of the building. Given whatever happens, in the meantime we are beginning to explore the best ideas for where we will locate HMA. As you can imagine, rental space in Christchurch is now at a premium, expensive and hard to come by.

The one upside is that given we have worked hard over the years to keep a broad portfolio of work both in New Zealand and Australia, to some extent we have been buffered. If we were solely Christchurch based in our work we would be in a far worse position. My heart goes to the many small businesses that have virtually lost everything and have no chance of rebuilding given that inner city Christchurch will be out of bounds for the next few years.

On a more optimistic note we have had great support from people who are interested in how things are for us. They have a desire to see HMA survive and continue to support their internal efforts in the learning and development area. You know who you are – thank you.

Published on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, under Announcements

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