Where can I read the Inquiry's findings and recommendations? 

The findings and recommendations are in the Report of the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission

You can read the report here

What was the purpose of this Inquiry?

The Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission was the first “public inquiry” to be held in New Zealand under the Inquiries Act 2013. It was established to examine the role and work of the Earthquake Commission (EQC) in the aftermath of recent natural disasters, and to learn lessons that can be applied to improve how it operates in future.

You can read more about its purpose in the Inquiry Terms of Reference

What is the Earthquake Commission, and what does it do?

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is a New Zealand Crown entity investing in natural disaster research, education and providing natural disaster insurance to residential property owners. You can find out more here(external link).

Whose idea was this Inquiry?

The Inquiry was initiated by the Government, and established through an Order in Council by the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, which you can read here(external link).

You can read the statement of Minister Megan Woods here(external link)

Who was in charge of this Inquiry?

The Inquiry was led by former Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright, who was supported by a team in the operation of the Inquiry. The nature of a “Public Inquiry” is that it operates independently from the government.

You can read more about Dame Silvia Cartwright here

Why was this a Public Inquiry, and not a Royal Commission of Inquiry?

A Public Inquiry has all the powers and protections of a Royal Commission of Inquiry, as laid out in the Inquiries Act 2013(external link).

A Public Inquiry demonstrates the subject matter is of national importance and deserving of independent scrutiny. A Royal Commission of Inquiry is typically reserved for the most serious matters of public importance, such as that into the Christchurch mosques terror attack.

Will the Inquiry recommend criminal charges, dismissals or otherwise hold people to account for their actions?

No. The Inquiry was focused on ensuring a better service and operations in future. While it could find fault, it was not designed to apportion blame. It did not operate in an adversarial way similar to what you might see in a courtroom.

Will this Inquiry help me with my unresolved EQC claim, reopen a settled claim I am not happy with, or help me in a court challenge against EQC?

No, the Inquiry was not designed to assist with individual claims, to reopen claims or to revisit court findings or legal precedents relating to EQC. There are avenues available to claimants to address unresolved or settled claims, including legal challenges. You can find out more about other avenues here

Where was the Inquiry based?

The Inquiry team was based in Christchurch and staffed by Cantabrians to reflect the Canterbury focus. Dame Silvia spent a significant period of time in Christchurch in the course of the Inquiry. Dame Silvia and the Inquiry team traveled to other areas as required to hear from submitters and meet relevant parties.

Will I get the chance to share my experience, and have my say about EQC?

The Inquiry has now ended. Anyone wanting to have their say could do so, and all material provided to the Inquiry was considered. The Inquiry collected close to a thousand written submissions and met with hundreds of others in public forums and meetings around New Zealand.

Anyone could request a meeting with Dame Silvia, who then considered what meetings she required to develop her findings and recommendations.

Will I be able to speak to Dame Silvia about my views?

The Inquiry has now ended. All submissions made to the Inquiry were considered in the report by Dame Silvia.

Dame Silvia met with individuals, groups and organisations she considered could further assist her in formulating her findings and recommendations. People also had the opportunity to have their say at public forums held by the Inquiry.

A companion summary What we heard: Summary of feedback from the Inquiry's public engagement was published alongside the Inquiry report. 

You can find both reports here

Will my views and information provided to the Inquiry be made public?

Now that the Inquiry has ended, your submission (including supporting documents) is held securely by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Your submission was only accessed by the Inquiry team for analysis, and was drawn on in the formation of the Inquiry’s reports.

Where submissions were made by an individual, confidentiality for all or part of the submission (including documents submitted to the Inquiry) could be requested. This information will not be made publicly available.

The content of submissions may be publicly released by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, such as in response to an Official Information Act request. Should this occur, any personal or identifying information will be removed, along with any other material you identified and that which the Inquiry team deemed should be withheld, such as confidential or sensitive information.

Groups/organisations making submissions could request confidentiality for part/s of their submissions, and could provide redacted versions.  Where the request has been agreed, this information will not be made publicly available.       

You can choose to share or publicly release your own submission, the content of which you are responsible for.

More information about handling of your submission is available here [PDF, 582 KB].  

What if I signed up to a confidential settlement with EQC or my insurer? Can I still speak to the Inquiry about it? 

If you have signed a confidential settlement with EQC, EQC has agreed to waive any applicable confidentiality obligation and/or any other clause that might inhibit free communication with the Inquiry. You can read more here(external link) under the heading Confidentiality of settlement agreements in the context of the Public Inquiry into EQC.

If you have signed a confidential settlement agreement with your insurer (other than EQC) or other parties, or have given confidentiality undertakings to others, for example the court at a judicial settlement conference or to other parties at mediation, you may need to seek a waiver of your obligations before disclosing the relevant terms to the Inquiry. You may consider that you can make a submission without disclosing any confidential information, in which case we would encourage you to take that approach. Alternatively, if you consider that it is important for you to disclose some of this confidential information, we suggest you either contact your insurer direct (if they have not already contacted you) or contact the Inquiry team to discuss this matter further.

How long will this Inquiry take?

The Inquiry reported its findings and recommendations to the Governor-General at the end of March 2020.

Other inquiries have been led by panels or groups - can this Inquiry be realistically led by one person?

Dame Silvia Cartwright is a former High Court judge and has extensive experience in the operation and running of inquiries. While she was the sole head of the Inquiry, Dame Silvia was able to draw on the experience and expertise of a Community Reference Group, legal and analytical support, and a range of technical support as required through the course of the Inquiry.

What will realistically happen as a result of the Inquiry?

The Inquiry was strongly focused on ensuring better experiences with EQC for all parties in future events. The future-focused findings and recommendations of the Inquiry were reported to Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, and then presented to the Government. We expect the Government, having initiated this Inquiry, will give serious consideration to the findings and recommendations.

We were mindful in the course of the Inquiry of the necessity to maintain a properly functioning insurance market in New Zealand that supports and provides protection for New Zealanders and their property.

Hasn’t EQC’s performance been inquired into already? How will this Inquiry be any different?

Yes, there has been a range of reviews and reports already completed into the work of EQC through different lenses. This Inquiry was different in that it was independent of government, took a more global view and had a strong focus on improving the operations of and service provided by EQC into the future.

How much did this Inquiry cost?

The Inquiry had a budget of up to $3.2 million (or $3.3 million if including capital funding), which covered the running of the Inquiry, including communicating and engaging with the public, forums/meetings, gathering and analysing submissions, and producing a final report. It also covered fees for the Chair Dame Silvia Cartwright and salaries for the team supporting the Inquiry Chair.

Why does it cost this much? How do we know it is value for money?

The budget for the Inquiry was based on costs of similar comparable exercises. The actual spend will depends on the level of interest/participation, and the work required to produce a thorough and meaningful report, including consultation with named parties. All spending has been carefully considered and monitored, according to government expectations, to ensure it is appropriate.   

How do I get in touch with the Inquiry if I want to know more?

The work of the Inquiry has now finished. If you have any questions about the Inquiry, please contact the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at information@dpmc.govt.nz








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