Hi there. I’m James Macbeth Dann, the author of the blog Rebuilding Christchurch. You may have read it, as sometimes bits of it get quoted here. Or you may have just found your way over to the site. Anyway, I’ll be joining the authors here, so there will be re-posts of blogs from my other site. I also thought it would be worth writing a few pieces with the aim of keeping the rest of the country updated with the important things going on down in the flat city.
Why is Christchurch so important? Well, Labour lost the last election here. In what was a terrible poll for the party, we actually got even less than the national result in Christchurch. For a progressive party that tends to do best in urban electorates, losing New Zealand’s second largest city was a blow that we just couldn’t get over. Barely six months on from the quakes that shook the city to its core, you couldn’t blame the people of the city for sticking with the incumbents that had seen them through a crisis. The situation down here coming into this election couldn’t be more different; nature is no longer to blame for the state Christchurch is in.
Labour lost the last election in Christchurch, but by outlining a bold vision for how we can get people housed, in a decent job, and how we can rekindle some of that initial optimism about building back our city better, we can win the election here.
I’m not just talking the talk; I’m taking the fight to the man responsible for this mess. I’m Labour’s candidate in Ilam, going head-to-head with Gerry Brownlee. I’m looking forward to challenging him about his policies, his bluster, and his callous dismissals to the real concerns of people who’ve been doing it hard for the last 3 and a half years. But my main mission is to get the Labour message out to the people of Ilam. It is not the homogenous, rich blue electorate that you might think it is. Sure, 25% of households might earn over $100,000 a year, but in a suburb like Jellie Park, the median income is less than $20,000. The rents in the north and west of the city have gone up at crazy rates since the quakes, and it’s hitting the people who can least afford it the hardest. All the while, the minister continues to deny that there is a housing crisis. We can’t afford to be lorded over by a man so detached from the realities on the street.
Over the next few weeks and months of the campaign, I’ll try and keep you updated with my view of what’s going on down here. If you need a more regular update, you can follow me on twitter, like me on facebook, or even sign up to the campaign newsletter!