Settlement Support Coordinator
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The region of Canterbury consists primarily of the Canterbury Plains and the surrounding mountains, and is New Zealand’s largest region by area, and second largest by population.
While it is now almost entirely farmland of one sort or another, before human habitation by Maori the region was covered in scrub and beech forests, populated by the flightless emu-like moa, the tallest bird that has ever lived.
Fires destroyed most of this original bush, and by the late 19th century European settlers had introduced new grasses and trees, and sheep for farming. By the 1860s there were over three million sheep in the region, and it was well on its way to becoming the farming powerhouse it remains until this day.
The region is made up of North, Mid and South Canterbury which are separated by the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers, and Christchurch – the South Island’s largest city.
For 170 years Christchurch has prospered as the hub of a particularly successful piece of New Zealand’s agricultural history.
However in September 2010 the City suffered the first of a series of substantial earthquakes, which then over the next 9 months rendered much of the central city and many thousands of residential homes uninhabitable.
These events have created a unique and unparalleled situation for the city and its residents. A time of great personal and community suffering, and great challenge and opportunity.
Thanks to the foresight of government some decades before, insurance existed for such an event. It has not met all costs, but has greatly increased the overall amount available to help rebuild the city.
Christchurch is known as the Garden City. When the first large earthquake struck it was just getting ready to host the country’s largest gardening event, the Ellerslie Flower Show.
Many billions of dollars will be spent as the residents reclaim and revitalise their regional capital, providing at least in the medium term a strong local economy to look forward to.
While the scale of work to be done is large, the region remains one of the most profitable, and the recreation possibilities for residents are still remarkable.
The government also provides support for newcomers to create their own local networks.
To find out more, visit the Canterbury Newcomers Network.
The Newcomers Network is supported by Settling In, an initiative of Family and Community Services (Ministry of Social Development).