Dame Silvia Cartwright to lead public inquiry into EQC

Government Press Release – Hon Dr Megan Woods

13 November 2018

Former Governor-General and High Court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright will lead the public inquiry into EQC, Minister Megan Woods has announced.

“It is my great pleasure to announce that Dame Silvia will head this inquiry. Dame Silvia has enormous mana and experience with public enquiries, having led the famous Cartwright Inquiry into Auckland National Women’s Hospital in the 1980s, and served on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal. 

“To have someone of her standing, skills and experience agree to lead this very important public inquiry is really exceptional.

“The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General. 

“The aim of the inquiry is to learn from the experience of the Canterbury earthquakes and ensure that the Earthquake Commission is fit for purpose in future events.

“The insurance system as a whole, including EQC’s role in that system, needs to be ready to deliver services to those affected by the next big event – whenever or wherever that happens.

“How the Inquiry approaches its task is a matter for the Inquiry team, but I expect it will engage with all interested parties, especially those with direct experience of submitting and managing insurance claims.” 

Minister Woods also released the Inquiry’s terms of reference and emphasised it would not have a role in considering past insurance settlements or current claims, nor would it comment on previous decisions made by the courts on insurance-related matters. 

“The focus of the Inquiry is on the handling of insurance claims by EQC and, as appropriate, other insurers following the Canterbury events.

“It is important to put a boundary around the work of the Inquiry.  There are a range of avenues open for claimants to pursue their individual cases, including the recently announced one-stop shop - the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS). 

“It’s important to this Government that the people of Canterbury who have been through so much with EQC get the chance to have their say and that the whole country can learn from the experiences of the Canterbury earthquakes,” says Megan Woods.

The Inquiry is due to provide an interim report back by the end of June 2019.  


Simon Darby