The chairman of the Earthquake Commisison's board, Sir Maarten Wevers, has resigned as the Government steps in to speed up the settlement of Canterbury's unresolved earthquake damage claims.
A house that has collapsed after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake (File picture).
"It is clear that the minister has no confidence in the board and staff of the commission," he said in a statement today.
"As chair, I take responsibility for that and have stepped aside so that the minister can appoint someone whom she assesses will be able to do a better job."
Megan Woods, the minister responsible for the EQC, today announced she was appointing an independent ministerial adviser to work with the board and management on a plan to speed up the settlement of claims.
"I've made it clear I am not satisfied with where EQC is in respect of the Canterbury earthquake work seven years on from the February 22nd event," she said today.
"For the around 2600 people with unresolved claims, being stuck in limbo is unacceptable - we've got to see faster progress for these people so they can get their lives back on track."
Dr Woods said she had accepted Sir Maarten's resignation.
"I thank him for his service."
In a statement, Sir Maarten said mistakes had been.
"Customers have not always been supported as they should have been, when they should have been, and it has taken a long time to reach the final stages of our response," he said.
"We apologise to each and every claimant to whom we have not delivered as we should have."
His resignation letter noted fewer than 0.6 per cent of 470,000 claims lodged still lingered - but that this was "no comfort to the board, management and staff".
"Every single claim is a concern to the Board and to me personally."
Sir Maarten said he left with "great regret" he could not continue to support the commission staff.
"I will be letting them down," he said.
Dr Woods said an interim chair would be appointed next week to oversee changes she believed would speed up the claims process.
Sir Maarten was the chief of Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2004 to 2012 and a long-serving diplomat. He was knighted in 2012 and made EQC chair in 2013.
Meanwhile insurer Tower has welcomed the appointment of an independent ministerial adviser and development of a plan to speed up the settling of claims for those still waiting on the EQC.
"For a number of years now, Tower has said that the EQC model is fundamentally broken. Seven years on from the event, insurers and our customers still do not have complete clarity on outstanding EQC claims," said Tower CEO Richard Harding.
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