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.