5 months ago

The Star: March 30, 2017

8 Latest Christchurch

8 Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Our People Thursday March 30 2017 The Star Nick Hunt Rebuilding the city another Developer Nick Hunt’s $140 million BNZ Centre opened this year, bringing both shoppers and office workers back into the central city. He spoke to Gabrielle Stuart about his adventures, both in the rebuild and in his past life as a ship captain What is it like to stand in the BNZ Centre and see it finally filled with people? It’s very good, believe you me. We’ll have about 1000 people in here once it’s full. But for me, I still just see all the things that still have to be done. I’ve been so focused on the building. We’ve been building for three years, designing for a year, and there was two years work before that. For someone my age, it’s been a long six and a half years. So tell me about your background? I used to be a ship’s captain. I was born in England, but went away at 16 to sail all over the world on various ships. Back then, it wasn’t like it is for youngsters nowadays, who are able to fly around the world. Back then it was the only way you could escape. Where did you travel? Everywhere. India, the Baltics, around the Middle East, South Africa, Japan. More recently, many trips between Australia and New Zealand. For a while, I was skipper of a ferry across the English Channel. You must have had plenty of adventures? Yes, there are almost as many dramas in shipping as there are when you are building in Cashel Mall, so the experience was very valuable. It teaches you you’ve got to make things work. When things go wrong, you can’t call on consultants and lawyers, you’ve just got to somehow make it work. But there were plenty of adventures. I was once taking the Archbishop of Canterbury across the channel with his family to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary. A bottle of champagne REBUILD: Nick Hunt is the developer behind the BNZ Centre on Cashel St. had been organised to be brought up to his cabin. But when he went to open it, the cork hit his glasses, and a piece of glass went straight into his eye. So the next thing he was down on the couch, and we were going full ahead, opening up the engines. His eye was saved, but I think it ruined the celebrations. And what was it that made you decide to leave the sea? It was in 1998. I was on a ship in Tauranga when a lady came on board with a little note, a writ to go up on the mast to say the owners were being taken to court for non-payment of debts. I was 55 at the time, so I thought I better start a new career. So we mortgaged the house and cashed in the pension, and I bought and refurbished Briscoes and Whitcoulls. I always liked to buy buildings and do them up. Then the earthquakes arrived, and I had to make a choice. Why did you choose to stay and rebuild, when you must have known it would be incredibly difficult? This is a privilege for an elderly gentleman like me to be part of. The last big adventure of my life. Take me though what happened after the earthquakes? Some of my buildings were damaged in the Boxing Day earthquake in 2010, so we closed them. An engineer went through and said these buildings are dangerous, we have to shut them down, and thank God we did. Thanks for your patience as we work on the city’s roads and pipes Avonhead Road wastewater upgrade project Planning underway AVONHEAD Northwest water supply deep well upgrades Construction underway Completion April 2017 BISHOPDALE UPPER RICCARTON FENDALTON Riccarton area wastewater upgrade projects Construction underway Completion October 2017 RICCARTON REDWOOD Cranford Street wastewater replacement Construction starts May 2017 Completion October 2017 PAPANUI BURWOOD ST ALBANS Riccarton area water supply replacement projects Construction underway Completion November 2017 Here’s some key projects happening this year Bealey Avenue NEW BRIGHTON resurfacing Completion April 2017 New Brighton road resurfacing Construction starts October 2017 Completion March 2018 As SCIRT finishes, Christchurch City Council will continue repairing and improving the city’s damaged pipes and roads. We’ve budgeted over $600 million over the next five years to repair our services, and have several major projects underway across Christchurch on top of this budget. South East Halswell new wastewater project Construction starts December WIGRAM 2016 Completion November 2017 LYTTELTON HORNBY HALSWELL South East Halswell new water supply project Construction underway Completion November 2017 Beckenham/Colombo Street wastewater upgrade Construction starts May 2017 Completion June 2018 SPREYDON Centaurus road resurfacing Construction starts October 2017 Completion CASHMERE March 2018 LINWOOD Lyttelton Harbour wastewater project Construction starts June 2017 Completion end of 2021 BROMLEY Waltham Road WOOLSTON Resurfacing Construction starts October 2017 Completion March 2018 Lyttelton retaining walls Construction underway Completion May-June 2017 FERRYMEAD LYTTELTON Peacocks Gallop wastewater replacement Construction starts April/May 2017 Completion July 2017 Redcliffs Main Road resurfacing Construction starts October 2017 Completion March 2018 SUMNER Sumner-Lyttelton Corridor road repair Construction underway Completion 2018 LITTLE RIVER Akaroa Wastewater scheme WAINUI Scheme progressing through consent phase AKAROA Need more information? 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The Star Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday March 30 2017 9 adventure for developer Otherwise there could have been numerous deaths in them in the February earthquake if they were inhabited. We heard from another engineer at the time who said, “no, I think they’re fine”, but I’m glad we didn’t listen. Because I had a big enough area of land, I was able to get the green light to rebuild quite fast. So our Briscoes building on Salisbury St was one of the first to reopen in July 2012. What do your days look like as a developer? I’ll start checking things before breakfast. Then come emails and more emails. I spend most of my day in meetings, like with builders or with councils, some of them interesting and some not as much. And there are always decisions to make. Several developers I have spoken to have said they are only rebuilding here for the love of the city – because they could make much more money and building would be much easier somewhere else. Is that the case for you? I think it’s true that none of us really comprehended how difficult it would be. There have been big problems for developers. One of them was the shutting down of the central city after February. Then there were all of those consent and regulatory issues. Our tenants have faced the same things. Scorpio Books, one of my tenants, had to move out of the city, and the costs of the move and fit-out make moving back a considerable investment. But many of them are Christchurch people who have been here for years. It shows their commitment and faith in the city that this is going to work. What do you think of the way the city is shaping? There are issues. Accessibility is very important, because the COMPLETE: Nick Hunt’s BNZ Centre is set to bring about 1000 office workers back into the central city. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN last thing we want is a rebuilt city facing so much gridlock even ambulances can’t get through. So that’s a bit of a problem. But if we do this right, this is going to be the finest city in New Zealand by a country mile. I remember the first time I came here in 1989, on a trip up from Timaru. I remember we walked down this part of Cashel Mall and I said, “this is fabulous, I’ve never seen anything so nice”. Christchurch is a very pretty city, and it seemed the prime spot in the city, by the river. So it’s very satisfying to be bringing it back. Outside work, what do you do with your time? We like things like travelling and tramping, but we haven’t had much time for them. I don’t think I’ve read a book for five years. Do you ever get out on the water? From time to time, but having worked on the water for so many years, it’s not usually top of my priority list. So what is next for you? Work on the BNZ Centre is a never ending process. I would like to hope my work would be wound down by Christmas so I can relax, but there is certainly another year of work left before it is finished. But my wife is starting to get really peeved off. They call it the rebuild widows club. So I’ve promised her a good long holiday in Europe in June, no matter what. Peace Of Mind Over Earthquake Claims Is Within Your Grasp - Let Us Offer You A Helping Hand EQC Still Assessing You? Getting Nowhere with Your Insurer? Concerned Your Damage Was Under Scoped? Worried About Your Repairs? How We Can Help We carry out a free* inspection of your property for our clients and either give you peace of mind that all of your earthquake damage has been identified, scoped, and repaired to the required standard, or manage your claim to get you your full policy entitlement. We can help take the pressure off and work with you, and for you, to reach a positive outcome, or give you peace of mind that your home is fully repaired to the required standard. Let us give you a hand *Terms and conditions apply. Contact us today - call 03 377 8855 or visit We’re located at 127 Ferry Road, Christchurch.