Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy (CREDS)


Working together on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) since 2008 built relationships and trust between local authorities in Canterbury. As relationships developed, councils began to explore opportunities for shared services on a regional or sub-regional basis and developed a joint three-year work programme. This in turn laid a foundation for working together on a regional economic and social development strategy for Canterbury. The region’s councils committed to this in the 2013–16 Triennial Agreement.

The Mayoral Forum developed the CREDS following two workshops with key stakeholders in December 2014 and February 2015, and launched it with Hons Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee in August 2015.


The guiding vision is: A region making the most of its natural advantages to build a strong, innovative economy with resilient, connected communities and a better way of life for all.

Consistent with a commitment to sustainable water management in the CWMS, Mayors have taken a long-term (20-year) view of sustainable regional development that balances economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes.


Two key drivers are population ageing and positioning the region’s underlying economy for when the rebuild of greater Christchurch is substantially complete.

  • Canterbury’s population has a higher median age and is ageing at a faster rate than New Zealand’s population as a whole.
  • On current trends, only four of Canterbury’s territorial authorities (Selwyn, Waimakariri and Ashburton districts and Christchurch City) are projected to grow at or above the average annual rate of projected population growth for New Zealand.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment modelling projects a loss of around 25,000 construction-related jobs from greater Christchurch between 2017 and 2021.

Population data and analysis for the Canterbury region and its 10 territorial authority areas is available on the regional council website.


The Mayoral Forum’s partners in the CREDS are Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Canterbury Development Corporation, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and the Committee for Canterbury.

A wider group of stakeholders from the farming, manufacturing, tertiary education, business, telecommunications, transport, tourism and welfare sectors comprises the CREDS reference group. This group meets with the Mayoral Forum approximately six monthly to review progress and provide advice on gaps and next steps.


The seven work programmes cluster around:

  • infrastructure (integrated, multi-modal regional transport planning; digital connectivity; freshwater management and irrigation)
  • value-added production
  • growing social and human capital (education and training for a skilled workforce; newcomer and migrant settlement)
  • visitor strategy.

A lead Mayor directs each work programme and is mandated by the Mayoral Forum to provide leadership, facilitation and advocacy across the entire region. Mayors engage stakeholders with ‘skin in the game’ to identify and remove barriers, knock on and open doors to opportunities, and advocate with one strong voice for Canterbury and its communities.


The Canterbury Development Corporation developed baseline economic indicators as at 30 June 2015 and provides updates approximately six monthly. The Forum reviews these to help assess whether and to what extent its objectives are being achieved.