City 'back in business'

IT WAS a city so widely damaged that when planners wondered how to rebuild, they looked to war-ravaged Beirut for inspiration.

But 18 months after an earthquake that killed 185 people and damaged 100,000 homes, Christchurch is emerging from ruin - and embarking on a public relations blitz.

In Sydney yesterday, Christchurch mayor Bob Parker called on Australians to visit and invest as the city moves from the demolition phase to a $30 billion rebuilding effort.

''We had tremendous support and a great deal of sympathy and generosity,'' he said.

''Now we really want to say, 'Don't feel sorry for us'. We are open for business.'' Under a new city plan, Christchurch's centre will become a low-rise, compact, ''people-friendly space'' framed by parks and featuring a new convention centre, covered stadium, music venues and an earthquake memorial.

The work represented the largest such effort by any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country since the end of World War II, Mr Parker said.

''New businesses will cluster around a city which has the 21st century's safest environment; a sustainable, green city that is superbly connected,'' he said.

''It is the story of the emergence of a new city … a whole central area basically having been demolished and beginning to appear again.''

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