Canterbury Earthquake Sequence

In the early hours of Saturday morning, September 4, 2010 a strong, shallow earthquake struck Christchurch marking the start of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence (CES).

Between September 2010 and December 2011, NZ's second largest city (pop. 380,000) was hit by four major earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks.

185 people lost their lives, over 7000 were injured. 15,000 families lost their homes and 8,000 families were permanently displaced.

Half of Christchurch's urban roads had to be rebuilt, 30% of the sewerage system was damaged and 32 million litres of water were lost when a major crack opened up in the floor of the city's largest reservoir.

The Earthquake Commission received over 470,000 insurance claims. JP Morgan, Chase & Co ranked the CES as the third most costly earthquake event in history behind the 2011 Japanese subduction earthquake/tsunami and the 1994 Californian earthquakes.

The repair and rebuilding of Canterbury continues and is expected to top $40 billion.

In the final analysis, it became clear that the most widespread and severe affects to infrastructure and land had been caused by repeated liquefaction events and the damage each one induced when millions of tonnes of silt and water spewed to the earth's surface.

Prime Minister, John Key

“On behalf of the Government and all New Zealanders, I would like to thank everyone from Tonkin and Taylor who pitched in and helped in the aftermath of the devastating Canterbury earthquake and continue to assist in the ongoing recovery.

I would especially like to recognise the dedication of the team on the ground - they are doing a brilliant job. This disaster has proven that in the worst of times, we see the best of New Zealand.”

Tonkin + Taylor's Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Programme Leader, John Leeves and liquefaction expert, Dr Sjoerd van Ballegooy reflect on the unprecedented liquefaction damage that devastated Greater Christchurch.


Engineer Kate Williams talks about earthquake resilience

Kate was on the ground for Tonkin + Taylor mapping land damage and providing critical engineering advice for the Earthquake Commission and NZ Government from the first aftershock. For Kate, there's one clear, key lesson to learn from the Christchurch earthquakes.


Engineer Mike Jacka reflects on the Christchurch earthquakes

The first earthquake in September 2010 was the moment the ‘rubber hit the road’ for geotechnical engineer, Mike Jacka. He had done his Master’s degree at Canterbury University in earthquake engineering, specifically, liquefaction potential for Christchurch.


Engineer Shamus Wallace reflects on parenting during the Christchurch Rebuild

Tonkin + Taylor's Operations Manager for the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Project, Shamus Wallace and his wife Lisa had two children after the earthquake sequence began. Jackson & Arizona are part of the generation of Christchurch children now know as 'the earthquake babies'.


Virginie Lacrosse

The widespread and complex land damage across Canterbury needed to be explained to and understood by property owners. Tonkin + Taylor’s Virginie Lacrosse found people really “got it” when she likened geotechnical engineers to doctors.