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The Standard

Forgotten Christchurch

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, February 22nd, 2013 - 22 comments
Categories: disaster, john key, national - Tags: ,

Today is the second anniversary of the most destructive of the Christchurch earthquakes. Condolences to the friends and families of the dead. Greetings to all who lived through it and remember.

As the government moves on with its own plans for the Christchurch city center, there is a second Christchurch that is largely forgotten:

Poverty strikes at home, children first victims

An increase in poverty-related illnesses and “Third World diseases” among Christchurch children is worrying health professionals and community workers.

Skin conditions such as scabies and ringworm are cropping up at city medical centres and primary schools as hundreds of families continue to live in overcrowded, damp homes almost two years after the Canterbury earthquakes. …

Some children are being sent home from school with contagious infections, and health professionals fear low-income families are shying away from medical treatment because they cannot even afford food. The problem appears to have hit the city’s Maori and Pacific Island communities hardest. …

Aranui Primary School principal Mike Allen said scabies, school sores and head lice were “anecdotally getting worse”. Jo Barlow, principal of Aranui’s St James School, had also seen a rise in scabies. Pre-earthquake, the disease was uncommon, but in the past two years at least five families had contracted it, she said.

The government’s response to the housing needs created by the earthquakes was inadequate from the start (remember the empty camper vans?). Too many families are still living in damp, unsafe conditions. Winter is coming again.

That’s the worst of the plight of Christchurch, but it’s by no means the whole story. Too many families are (as I can personally attest) still living with uncertainty and financial distress, a frustrating and erratic rebuilding process, and a complex insurance nightmare. Too many families feel forgotten by the government, and by the PM (for all his fine words his actions have been – lacking).

The Nats must know they’re in trouble in Christchurch, because they’re going to some trouble to try and spin some good news reports of public sentiment – see Gerry Brownlee in “Life in post-disaster Christchurch improving – survey“. Blogger James Dann (check out his blog Rebuilding Christchurch) comprehensively destroys Brownlee’s spin. Here’s a sample:

2381 people responded to the survey. 1156 of them were from Christchurch City, 618 from Selwyn District and 607 from Waimakariri District.

So that means that of the people who did respond, more than half (1225) aren’t actually from Christchurch. I mean no disrespect to the people of Rolleston, Lincoln, Rangiora, Kaiapoi etc. I am sure they have had a hard time. But they don’t have the same issues that people who actually live in the city do. They haven’t had to deal with a lack of services, portaloos, red zoning, TC3 land, roadworks to the same extent that people who live in the city do.

Good work from James Dann.

So, two years on, if the government is not interested in the forgotten people of Christchurch it is up to the rest of us to remember them, and keep their plight in the public eye. We might shame the Nats in to action yet.

22 comments on “Forgotten Christchurch”

  1. karol 1

    Condolences to those who lost people in the quakes. The people of Christchurch should always be remembered on this day, but especially those who are still suffering, and those who have been neglected or otherwise failed by our current government.

    Very good post, Anthony, which goes some way to ensuring those in poverty in Christchurch are not forgotten.

  2. tracey 2

    “Kaiapoi etc. I am sure they have had a hard time. But they don’t have the same issues that people who actually live in the city do.”

    I think these kind of broadbrush comments cut into the credibility of the article.

    the first earthquake, which is the forgotten earthquake had kaiapoi as its largest victim. My cousin’s home was completely destroyed and they were lucky to get out alive. Not an ounce of exaggeration. Her 23 year old son a fit squash player was thrown from his bed tot he far wall. Trying to get to his screaming mother downstairs he made it to the door only to be thrown against the opposite wall.

    Their entire exterior was enveloped by liquifaction and their road swallowed two cars.

    They have had to wait since Sept 2010 to get money for their house and still do not have it. They have been forced to engage lawyers to fight insurance.

    I agree they no longer have a portaloo in their area because they all were not permitted back into their homes, even to remove clothing (that’s how badly hit they were).

    Anyone who has friends or relatives in christchurch or has visited and driven around and spoken to people knows how terrible it was and still is for most.

    We need to highlight and push their predicament, but not by playing down other people’s strggles or losses.

    I suspect a number of kiwis have forgotten their was a major earthquake in 2010… because by some miracle no one died.

    • vto 2.1

      Yep, Kaiapoi got nailed alright and people have forgotten that.

      Part of the developing rebound is that centres to the north and west of the city (Rangiora, Lincoln, Rolleston, surrounds of Kaiapoi) and the northwest of the city itself are going nuts in the rebuild due to the population moving there and those effects. This has led to a splitting of effects now today – east still struggles, west and north are well into recovery, in fact past it. A city of many tales ….

      • tracey 2.1.1

        I was in Kaiapoi and rangiora a couple of weeks ago and the exodus from kaiapoi and christchurch is there to be seen. I worry about infrastructure support matching the housing development speed. My cousin relocated tot he city immediately following the 2010 earthquake and was promptly caught int he second one and their rental accommodation was destroyed! They are now out in the oxford/rangiora area

  3. vto 3

    Last night I felt the ground doing that long slow constant movement deep down again. No quakes (well, one) but just a constant moving of the earth, which I haven’t felt since Feb-June period. The bed was doing a long constant very small wobble. And there weren’t no trucks or buses going past. God I hope it aint going to fire up again. It won’t I’m sure…..

    But check this story out. It is quite something – not just the mother and daughter but also the father and his own luck. Pretty teary. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8337075/Mothers-survival-against-the-odds

    • tracey 3.1

      vto, I have been down several times since the Feb earthquake and was lucky enough to be down the week before the earthquake (rather than during as had previously been planned). The international parafed games were on, if you recall and all the athletes were housed in the grand chancellor (we were next door). I shudder to think of the further devastation had the games been on when the G Chancellor was struck full of disabled athletes.

      I have not been there for a single tremor but frequently they have been felt immediately before or after our stays. I am lucky. BUT everyone we spoke to said just when you think it’s the end you feel something, or a truck goes by and you get transported back tot he days of fear again.

      • vto 3.1.1

        Yep, they certainly get everyone’s back hairs on the vertical! I’m sure the rest of NZ is tiring of it all – we certainly are, but it remains real.

        Here is the geonet site which shows two small quakes early to later this morning http://geonet.org.nz/ which may be some evidence of the constant movement felt for a period.

    • ianmac 3.2

      VTO Thanks for the link. Remarkable magnificent survival. Great work too by those who rescued them. Even to the detail of the boys on skateboards clearing the way.

  4. Dr Terry 4

    My continuing deep sympathy for all who suffer still in Christchurch, my thoughts are very much with you today. Anthony, you mention so little real progress for all Key’s “fine words”. Well, who is to give the address with yet more “fine words” today but this very same man – now, who could have more “empathy or pity” than Mr Key? (rhetorical question) Who decided that he should speak on a sad occasion such as this, a situation to which his government has contributed so much additional misery. Not only that, but one report says that he will also be offering prayers! Is he the new Archbishop of New Zealand all of a sudden? To what “god” does Key turn in prayer (I leave it for you to guess)? And as for his government ever feeling “shame”! Sorry, but I am not a believer in such miraculous transformations!

  5. Afewknowthetruth 5

    “We might shame the Nats into some action yet.’

    The Nats could not care less what happens to the people of Christchurch. Never have. Never will.

    As energy depletion really starts to bite Christchurch will be largely abandoned. There is nothing there anyone needs and there will be no reason to stay. The current plan is to make some disaster capitalism profits while it is still possible.

    • Wayne 5.1

      That must be why the Govt is spending over $10 billion in Christchurch and will be building the central city with a 50 to 100 year plan.

      That must also be why the Govt has offered all insured red zone home owners the 2007 valuation, which over 90% have accepted. The whole reason was so homeowners would not be trapped into interminable disputes with their insurers, but could get along with rebuilding (I guess mostly in the west of the city).

      Seriously, this has been the biggest thing the Govt has to deal with. Clearly there is huge frustration, but progress has been made. You can expect a huge rebuild effort this year, now the land issues have been largely sorted, now that the insures seem to be dealing with the problems and now that the bulk of demolition work is complete in the central city.

      By the way the survey was corrected for the overbalance of less affected areas, so it is an accurate read of city attitudes.

      Most can see that progress is being made, but I imagine the people in TC3 will be the most frustrated, with land to be stabalised before repairs can start. (I have relatives in this situation and is very tiresome for them, but they are making the best of living in their broken home) Actually it is almost harder than being red zoned where at least people get a fresh start, but they also have their memories, so that is also hard.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        That must be why the Govt is spending over $10 billion in Christchurch and will be building the central city with a 50 to 100 year plan.

        No, the reason why they did that was so that they could give even more of our money to their rich mates. After all, they totally ignored the wishes of the people in Chch.

        That must also be why the Govt has offered all insured red zone home owners the 2007 valuation, which over 90% have accepted. The whole reason was so homeowners would not be trapped into interminable disputes with their insurers, but could get along with rebuilding (I guess mostly in the west of the city).

        And yet what they should have done was told the insurers to pay out the full amount for the property rather than protect the insurers from having to pay out.

        Seriously, this has been the biggest thing the Govt has to deal with.

        Yep, it is and they’re doing it wrong due to the fact that they’re more concerned with protecting the multi-nationals than doing right by the people of Chch.

        By the way the survey was corrected for the overbalance of less affected areas, so it is an accurate read of city attitudes.

        When they re;ease the methodology I’ll believe that. Until then I’ll believe that they’re lying.

        Most can see that progress is being made

        Yep, at about a tenth of the pace it should be and NACT are walking all over the rights of the people living there so that their rich mates can be made better off.

        • Fortran 5.1.1.1

          DTB
          I thought the Insurance companies were not Government owned so how can any Government TELL them what to do.
          AMI is funded now by Taxpayers money to settle all legitimate claims, when AMI ran out of funds. Government did not have to do this with taxpayers money.
          All other insurance companies are privately owned, so I cannot see them being told what to settle. You would soon run out of any insurance companies if you did try.
          They all have different policies, terms and conditions, so you only get what you pay for.
          Who sold State to the Poms who onsold to the Aussies ?

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1

            I thought the Insurance companies were not Government owned so how can any Government TELL them what to do.

            It’s fairly simple.

            If you wish to have a license to continue operating as an insurance company in NZ, these are our expectations of you.

            If you do not wish to undertake commitments to meeting these expectations, you will be given time to exit the market in an orderly fashion while we acquire and nationalise your client base.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.2

            You would soon run out of any insurance companies if you did try.

            ?

            The NZ government operated its own insurance company for decades.

            The privateers can fuck off if it does not suit them to be here.

  6. BLiP 7

    .

    Kia kaha, Christchurch.

  7. vto 8

    Another one. Prepare thy survival bags.

  8. millsy 9

    Feel the teeth marks in your rear end?

    That’s the government’s sale of the MOW and the insurance companies.

    And the government’s restructure of education in the city underlines the fact that chopping the education boards was a little bit mistaken.

  9. Anonymous 10

    The city will be rebuilt but I hold no attachment to it anymore, some monstrous sprawling capitalistic environment built for the companies that wish to continue to extract money from us. Do we in Christchurch have a dream of something other than a corporate coup of our space. The central city that could become a place designed and built by and for the community. Pessimism reigns, those with the money and the power will have access to the land before anyone else.

    The green belt, a token gesture, while many celebrated I merely became more despondent. Plans exist now, but their shape and form will most likely metamorphose over the years of the rebuild. I doubt there will be room for much green space in the city, as it isn’t cost effective.

    Meanwhile, the plight of those outside of the rebuild continues to grow. The irony of watching the rebuild get underway in earnest while walking through neighborhood streets full of empty and decaying homes, though still usable, the basic shelter of which is unavailable to many is not lost on this individual.

    A level of anger and frustration comes to mind, but is quickly tempered by one of the options left to me. Ignorance is bliss.

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