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Bexley, eventually

Written By: - Date published: 1:44 pm, March 5th, 2011 - 74 comments
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Resources for the poor, eastern Christchurch suburbs have been lacking but everyone accepts things are stretched. Key did himself no favours trying to PR paper over real cracks. Helicoptering in to Bexley, talking to some hand-picked locals, and making excuses the whole time didn’t look good.

For instance, portaloos have only recently arrived in suburbs like Avonside and there is only one per 100 people without water. We can accept there are only so many portaloos in the country and it takes time to get more, although we may be surprised that Civil Defence and the Army don’t have stockpiles of them and chemical toilets. But when Key says ‘look resources had to be devoted to the rescue effort first’ he’s treating us like idiots. The search and rescue teams are not the same people who supply and maintain portaloos, so why try to trick us?

‘I have no doubt that Civil Defence, the Army, Police, the Red Cross, Social Development, the Student Volunteer Army, Beyond Resistance, the local MPs Brendon Burns and Lianne Dalziel and the LECs, and all the other civil society groups are doing all they can and doing tremendous work. But it’s equally clear that there needed more preparation and resources for an urban population in the tens of thousands cut off from utilities after a disaster.’

That’s all Key needed to say. All he needed to do was acknowledge the validity of people’s complaints and commit to improvements, rather than making implausible excuses.

74 comments on “Bexley, eventually”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Giving PR advice to the NATs lol? What’s happened to Crosby Textor’s learned teachings I wonder. They don’t seem to do well in an actual crisis situation – it seems that the laws of physics outruns their ability to doctor spin.

    • Marty G 1.1

      CT spin is all about post-modernism. Disaster relief is a very modernist project. That’s why the helicopter trip looked so bad, so incongruous. Straight and honest leadership is what we need now

      • Deadly_NZ 1.1.1

        And what about the pic that was briefly on the Stuff page of 2 ministerial BMW’s perusing the damage in Christchurch, now that was Not a good look either. that pic disappeared quickly as well.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Driving down a couple of main streets in my local area which I’m pretty sure have had water since about last Thursday or Friday, I saw about 6-7 portaloos. Generally 1 every 4-5 houses.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Paul Holmes says the local TV networks went all the way to Keys Office to get the ‘signer’ removed from the press conferences. It spoilt ‘their picture’ !!
    Obviously Key told them to take a hike, but is this a blatant attempt at censorship, to make the disaster pictures more ‘reality show’ like ?

  4. ianmac 4

    It did not ring true to say that since there was a Search and Rescue effort going on in the CBD, the eastern suburbs would have to wait. As Eddie says, ” The search and rescue teams are not the same people who supply and maintain portaloos, so why try to trick us?”
    Notice that Parker tried deflection by drawing attention to a household who had moved a portaloo into their own driveway. That one would have solved all their problems! Not.

    • pollywog 4.1

      Saw that chump Parker on TV wanting a mass memorial service in Hagley park next week or so, and for what ?…So he can get even more airtime publicly mourning his fellow citizens ?

      suppose the fuckwit knows it’s gonna cost shitloads to organise the event and resources spent on it might perhaps be better spent somewhere else…ya reckon ?

      I gave him the time of day when the shit was going down in the early stages of the quake and he was acting as mouthpiece for civil defence but now he’s just taking the piss.

      Walking round in his hi vis and laminated VIP cards hangin off his neck. PFFFT… Muthafucka please !!!… it ain’t a rock ‘n roll concert and you aint Axl Fucken Rose.

      I’m sure every **** in town knows who you are. You’re sideshow bob the builder. Shut the fuck up and get to fuckin building already !!!

      [As Lynn would put it in one word ….turgid. This is going too far polly. RL]

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        “you aint Axl Fucken Rose”

        Has anyone seen them in the same room? Or seem Parker dance, that’d be the tell.

  5. vto 5

    Well having struggled for power (for tv and net etc) we haven’t seen much of anything of Key and other politicians, though given Key’s general clowning around and his previous performances we have certainly not put any store in his gravitas or credibility.

    But a couple of questions relating to the quake and varying suburbs and efforts…. (these are the harsh ones)…

    1. There is a certain amount of wallowing in the despair going on. People need only walk or drive or bike between 2 and 10kms and there is a fully functioning city with everything. People known as drama queens, and those for whom the glass if only ever half full, and hypochondriacs, have to an extent wallowed. People need not stay in houses with no water or sewer yet some I know do, and put up with the discomfort etc. They get that strange comfort from seeing and participating in discomfort.

    2. From my experience through all the effected suburbs I don’t see so much bias between richer and poorer but what I have noticed is that those doing the majority of the complaining are generally of the character associated with most usual complaining. Whingers is perhaps one description. In fact, looking around the more devastated of the suburbs, the richer ones have suffered the most and the poorer ones the least. Yet the most complaints and noise come from the poorer. Perhaps these characteristics are all related.

    3. When Pike River happenned the accusation was made regarding an overly-safety conscious and policy-ridden NZ culture which delayed rescue and hence caused more deaths. This has happenned again, and the issue raised by many I know here. Namely, there were hundreds of police telling people to stay away, but not picking up rubble. They had clean shirts. There were hundred and hundreds of locals who could have cleared rubble and found more people. (But the locals are not to be trusted, they must be kept away! It is for their own good of course!) Ask yourself this… how long after the quake was the last survivor found? (about 26 hours). And how long are people found alive generally after quakes?? (days and days).

    There were countless buildings in town which had collapsed in some manner. There would have been people under them alive, or stuck in their lifts or stairwells. How many died because the few rescuers / rubble-removers took days to get to their building? More people should have been allowed to rescue and remove rubble. The overly-safety conscious current NZ culture is not so applicable at times like this. Nor is the culture of policy policy policy – it stifles innovation and discretion. Cause of death (coroner) for each will be revealing in this matter.

    No doubt many will not like these questions. They are harsh. They are also legitimate. They are also just one small slice of the huge spectrum of human endeavour (heroic and not so heroic)that has emerged after the disaster.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Welcome back…. is this your first posting since the quake?

      We’ve been concerned for you. Perhaps we could re-title this thread “vto eventually”.

    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      In fact, looking around the more devastated of the suburbs, the richer ones have suffered the most and the poorer ones the least. Yet the most complaints and noise come from the poorer. Perhaps these characteristics are all related.

      When you talk about who has “suffered the most” in a disaster like this (not that it should be a competition) you should consider the difference in situational control and psychological self-assurance between a family with income protection insurance and $6000 in their bank account and a family with no income protection insurance and $60 in their bank account.

      The differing stress levels of those two families trying to cope will be chalk and cheese. And we should not suggest that people who were already in a fragile state pre-earthquake remain quiet lest they bother us with their “whinging”. (Hints of the bene bashing meme here).

      Consider that those who are richer have means, cash on hand, lines of credit to help solve certain problems quickly and easily. Families can part relocate to holiday homes out of town, children in their final year of high school can be sent to Wellington and Auckland and enrolled in schools there (as hundreds already have) so that their education doesn’t suffer, for instance.

      The wealthy are also more likely to have had extra stores of food on hand, emergency kits, spare bottled water etc. And if one bedroom is unlivable you have three or four more to choose from.

      No doubt many will not like these questions. They are harsh. They are also legitimate. They are also just one small slice of the huge spectrum of human endeavour (heroic and not so heroic)that has emerged after the disaster.

      I take your point. I have a friend amongst the missing and will be most pissed off if the findings show that the initial event was survived and rescue was possible.

      • vto 5.2.1

        Well I don’t know if that is quite right. I see equal distress in people right across the spectrum. But there are probably proportionately more of the well-off who are distressed than other segments, simply due to never having experienced real distress before. Those less well-off have often gone through things before and are semi-seasoned. Terrible way to describe this part of the situation but reality nonethless.

        Our own situation is one of having been through similar before so, for better or worse, this is not such a shock. For others we know now forced into such a situation this is new and a shock.

        • Colonial Viper

          yep, you make a point which reminds me of Orlov saying that people in the Soviet Union were pretty much physically and psychologically ready for the massive economic collapse they experienced.

          Whereas massively obese Americans not used to walking 50m (unless its in an airconditioned mall) will really suffer in a similar situation.

        • Puddleglum

          Hi vto,

          As I said in a previous thread, the people I’ve seen while shovelling silt have generally been helping themselves (and each other – though there’s also tensions) and pretty dismissive of help from official authorities. They have appreciated help from ordinary people and organisations that are not ‘official’ – which is where most of the responsive help has come from rather than pro forma help (dumping portaloos on streets where they’ve received a lot of phone calls from, as PB notes). Their complaining, that is, is like a sick joke they amuse each other with and it doesn’t stop them spending 8-10 hour days doing physically excruciating work to help themselves.

          It is also simply wrong that richer people have ‘suffered more’, unless we’re talking about loss of capital in buildings rather than basic living conditions. I know many people in Redcliffs and Sumner – an occupational ‘hazard’ – who had to either evacuate or have had their homes destroyed. I also know that within 24-48 hours they have either bedded down with relatives in the western suburbs, vacated to holiday homes in Wanaka and parts south and north or spent time in resorts like Terrace Downs. Now, I don’t think that means they have not suffered (it’s been awful for them and me and my wife have helped where we can with emotional support and visits) but to then say that proportionately more of the well off are more distressed seems without any foundation.

          Also, in terms of geographic spread it is, once again, untrue that the richer suburbs have suffered more damage. Vast swaves of the West and northwest have been, relatively, untouched. Pretty much from Lincoln road north to the airport (Riccartion, Ilam, Fendalton, Avonhead, etc.). The hill suburbs have been hit but not by liquefaction and silt which in the poorer suburbs in the east makes access extremely difficult and repairs very slow and has resulted in multiple fracturing of power cables and water pipes in those liquefied areas.

          In a similar vein to what others have said in response to your comment about ‘already suffering’ being a prophylactic to more suffering – it reminds me of a comment I heard back in the mid nineties on radio from an ‘expert interviewee’ (when Kim Hill did Nine to Noon) to the effect that mothers in the Third World don’t grieve over their killed children as much as mothers in the west do: Because they’re used to their children dying (which is why they have a lot of them).

          The ‘reality’ – which you seem keen to champion – is that people who are repeatedly beaten by life certainly can start to have hopeless and helpless reactions when compared to the reactions of those who have never been beaten about. Those reactions, however, are signs of greater distress and greater suffering – now and previously – not less. At the extreme, it would be odd to claim that catatonia is a less stressful reaction than voluminous crying. Despite its silence, it speaks volumes for the degree of real suffering occurring. I imagine, in fact, that the ‘complaining’ you’ve probably heard in the media has been from articulate members of those communities who are trying to get action happening. That’s no different from the ‘complaining’ of people in streets in Beckenham to the Council – by telephone – that has resulted in them getting portaloos delivered down their streets at the same time as the water is being restored.

          I also think you’ve got the causality around the wrong way. Those who you see ‘complaining’ in the poorer sections of Christchurch are just as likely to have resorted to ‘moaning’ because of lives that have reinforced for them the idea that they are powerless – not because they are just ‘moaners’ at birth. It’s called ‘learned helplessness’ and, sure, it isn’t helpful (by definition) but, like everything else, it has a cause and that cause is not – logically cannot – be in the individual. It comes as a package with the lives they’ve lived since birth (in probabilistic terms).

    • Pascal's bookie 5.3

      Hey v, good to see you are still up and about.

      One point I heard made on the radio, (can’t remember who exactly was speaking, but they were CCC), was that the basic systems they run are driven by volume and quantity of complaints. They were saying that this system may have failed them in the eastern suburbs in this instance, because the level of complaints coming from there didn’t match with the need. This was in comparison to other suburbs was the direct implication. Obviously part of this was to do with the lack of power and what not. Getting the complaints to the right people was logistically just not as easy.

      Also, while there may be many whingers and what not, the tactical quality of their whinging is not as good. Good solid middle class suburbs with a higher proportion of professionals, business owners, managers and the like, are better equipped to target the right people in the bureaucracy with the right sort of complaint/demands.

      • vto 5.3.1

        true true.

        And good to be about I must say. That first post above was pretty raw and rough around the edges though. Which is pretty much the way many of us seem to deal with things at the moment.

    • RedLogix 5.4

      For me the two saddest stories where about the woman who ran back into the shop to retrieve her cell-phone and the bus driver who died of internal injuries after having helped all his passengers to safety before looking after himself.

      I’m not for an instant judging either of them. They both did what they thought best at that moment, but I still found their deaths especially poignant.

      And it’s important not to judge with hindsight. The Edgecumbe quake was actually a 5.4 followed by a 6.3 20min later. In that case it saved lives because the first smaller quake prompted a large group of workers on some high platforms at Tasman Paper to abandon them before the bigger quake. All this shows the total uncertainty surrounding the immediate events in a big quake.

      Imagine if another large shock had triggered more falling rubble, or even say the complete collapse of the Grand Chancellor Hotel, onto a large group of people who had survived the first quake. Unsupportably tragic. As admirably heroic as their actions in trying to save others would have been… I’m still reminded of an old saying about when things go bad…”your first loss is your best one, take it and run”.

      In this case, literally.

      • vto 5.4.1

        Understood but imo the safety and rule conscious world of today may have limited rescue of those still alive. The detail has to be looked at. Must away but briefly,, there were for days and days dozens and dozens of untouched two three storey buildings lying around in piles. With people under them?

    • DJ 5.5

      1. Saying “walk or drive 2 to 10 km” is all fine and dandy. But you’re forgetting about dust storms, that some people have dependants, that some of those in the suburbs are elderly with health problems and there are people with other issues. I’ve found that most of the people that could leave did. Not everyone has the capabilities to get around. I remember one lady who turned up at a welfare center and said she only had $2 to her name. There are people who can do things but want to complain. Also there are thiefs wanting to take advantage of other people while they’re not at home, so residents want to be in there homes to protect their assets.

      2. From my experience in effected suburbs people are trying hard to make ends meet. The fact they’re complaining isn’t a bad thing, it helps people know what they need and that they aren’t getting needs met. Poor people in general will suffer more discrimination, health problems and have more difficult lives than richer people. So I’m not surprised there are more complaints form them, considering they’re the majority. Most people seem to understand it’s a difficult situation but they’re still under stress.

      3. You can say what you like about Pike River but the fact that we are a safety conscious and have safety policies helped save lives in this quake. As for the locals who wanted to clear rubbel and find people, we’re talking about a city which had another aftershock shortly afterwards with all sorts of debri including asbestos around the place along with emotionally charged people that could of injured themselves or others. Completing a rescue effort is not a easy task and we’re not talking about people clearing rubbish from a rubbish dump.

      I think your questions have some legitamacy and I’m sure others have asked them. I think they’re answerable though, but maybe not answers you’d agree with.

    • todd 5.6

      1. It’s called shock vto. Blaming the victims is not productive. Poor people do not have the resources to move or adapt as well as the rich. They also do not have the resources to pay for this earthquake.

      2. Your assumption that poor people complain more than rich people is insensitive. Are you a troll.

      3. The un-safety conscious NZ mining culture lead to the accident. You are delusional if you try to attribute any blame for pike river on over administration.

      4. From the looks of it, the initial emergency response was very good. I do not understand your inference that more people could have been saved if more people were sent into crumbling and collapsing buildings? More people could have died. As you obviously were not part of any rescue team, you are not in a position to comment on the effort. Although I’m sure that some people did in fact die while trapped in rubble, the way in which you are trying to attribute blame for this is disgusting!

  6. vto 6

    Hi Mr Logix, I managed one quick post a few days ago to let people know we survived. Been extraordinary times with extraordinary tales and extraordinary acts by people. The human spirit in action can achieve super-human results.

    edit: hmmm, there was a post by RL which I replied to, now disappeared..

    [Been out of touch myself. A quick search found your comment letting us know you were ok. Personally I’d welcome a guest post telling us more about your experiences if you have the time and inclination …RL]

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    Doesnt sound like hes from Christchurch, apart from the beachside strip the suburbs Avonside, Aranui, Bromley dont feature in the well off areas.
    But his sneering comment on the ‘complainers’ is more of a mirror as he launches into a critique of the professional search and rescue of which he shows abysmal ignorance. Rescuing those under many layers of pancaked concrete floors is a different matter to those under a small layer of rubble.

    Harsh ? Ignorant is more like it!

    • vto 7.1

      Yes well ghost such a reply was well expected. Do you have anything to say about those 3 things or not? Just a personal attack? Can you not handle the tough questions?

      Happy to hear a decent answer and be proved wrong.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 7.1.1

        Pub talk !!!
        Thats where your opinions come from.
        But funny there is no criticism of the publicity seeking politicians, one comes to mind.
        I wonder Why

      • RedLogix 7.1.2


        Serious question.

        In your first post-quake comment you said:

        Have some stories.. and some theories on this continuing run of quakes, namely that at our place I can feel the earth constantly moving. It is moving constantly and has been since the quake. I can feel and hear it deep under our house. It is not … aftershock, stop, aftershock, stop, etc, rather it is a constant move with varying degrees of rub and catch between immense slabs of deep earth, the larger rubs and catches of which show up as aftershocks.

        Is this still the case? Because Edgecumbe was definitely not like that at all … the aftershocks lasted about 2-3 weeks with no perceptible sound in between them as you describe.

        • vto

          Mr Logix, it is difficult to feel that constant moving deep down as easily as it was in the immediate days after the quake, but it has still been constant aftershocks. For every reported ‘aftershock’ there are dozens of smaller ones, which knock the body and soul just as much.

          • RedLogix

            Thanks vto.

            My sentiments on this are here.

            This constant background of aftershocks, big and little, seems quite extraordinary to me.

            • vto

              It\’s bloody nuts. I actually been out of town last three days back very soon, but until I left it was very disconcerting and no wonder that many have scarpered. Some are just a quiet deep boom sound, some are a quick crack and shake, some build slowly, some have no sound, some are quick and some are longer, but whatever each one is there are loads of them. A mate of mine said he heard one that sounded like a jet fighter racing overhead in some sort of vortex warp but all underground.

              It is extraordinary.

              Until they end I suspect the population will continue to seep away and not return.

            • vto

              Just a little further addition.. it seems what we have felt is limited to quite specific locations. Go to other people’s places and they feel far less in number and heft. Our place seems to be super sensitive. In fact a neighbour said shortly afterthe quake that he had said to his significant other two weeks before the quake that he could feel and hear the land creaking and groaning below him with strange sounds and almost movement type things. Exactly what we have felt. Various reasons for this super sensitivity methinkgs.

              And also exactly what I have been told by people right on the location of the September quake. Lots of slight and strange sounds and creaks from deep within they felt for months after.

              Truly fascinating. If only not so risky freaky..

      • Puddleglum 7.1.3

        Happy to hear a decent answer and be proved wrong.

        I’ve had a go at 8:41pm, above.

        • vto

          Noted Mr Puddle. Also noted other replies above which have some validity of course.

  8. lprent 8

    fixed the bug preventing uploading the images

  9. venezia 9

    I have just arrived home from a house in eastern suburbs where a family with 2 preschoolers live, where both power and water have come on and off in the last 2 days, where the drains have completely blocked, where for the last 10 days out of 11 they have used a long drop. Trying to get a plumber/ drainlayer is nigh on impossible. No complaints because they realise that the whole city is just trying to survive. You can theorise all you like. There is still real hardship out there.

    • Marty G 9.1

      Completely agree. That’s why Key’s ‘ don’t blame me, nothing wrong here’ helicopter tour went down so badly

    • neoleftie 9.2

      So what does Key propose to do next for all those thousands of people when the get power and water back on, have some kind of temp solution to a toilet i.e a portaloo or chem toilet, when i afew week the red cross money is used up on trademen costs or basic supplies, they find themselves unemplyeed and now relying on the welfare of the state. What happens in a few weeks to the grass roots supply distribution centres who are feeding tens of thousands of people each day when the nation moves on once again. from the blog lines the stories are coming through loud and clear they need real, active and timely solutions in an ongoing manner to solve these issues.
      In some cases people have been through three homes, now all wrecked, and still using a hole in the ground after 6 months.
      What happens to the displaced, the poor, and then now newly found homeless and unemployeed?
      Now isnt the time for ideologically driven policy but a constructive dialogue that will, on a national and community level, provide for those who are now victims in these direst of times.
      With a lackluster media, a Tory Govt and a silent labour party i feel that once again the non-powered and newly disconnected will be quickly forgotten.
      Time for those community based groups who ‘filled the breech’ in state support to become stronger, more united and connected and to provide a measure of security and comradeship to those who are now suffering both from the recession and now the trgic event in chch.
      let not the opportunity pass us by due to apathy or the breakdown in compassion within our society

      • todd 9.2.1

        Very well said. Let’s hope that there’s no fines for people who don’t mow their lawns this time.

        • neoleftie

          i did hear of the police handing out parking tickets in the eastern suburbs.

  10. grumpy in Bangkok 10

    While grumpy has been overseas in Germany, Poland and Denmark, his daughter has been running the farm 4WD and trailer loaded with over 3000L of water to areas of the eastern suburbs that aqre without water.
    Most residents have left, gone to family and friends and those who do remain mainly do because they choose to. It is true that portaloos were slow to arrive but that is more bewcause of the shortage of them and the sheer scale of the problem.
    The Eastern suberbs are seriously afected because thyat is where the most damage is. People of Canterbury, the Government and the Council are all mucking in, there is no sign of any political agenda except that contained on these pages.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Well done grumpy’s daughter.

      Less so grumpy himself who seems to think that earthquake somehow suspends democracy and gives govt free pass immunity to criticism.

      Moreover grumpy seems to have not read much else in the media… more than a few pundits have addressed themselves to the political consequences of this quake, eg the normally blue-rinse Armstrong.

      • grumpy in Bangkok 10.1.1

        You are right, English language media has been at a minimum for me for the past week or so.

        Like VTO, I am disgusted that the authorities actually were arresting people trying to help. The natural reaction of Kiwis is to pitch in (in the same way that my daughter is). There would have been tens of thousands of volunteers to manually shift rubble but the “health and Safety” crap may have contributed to the death toll.

        I actually considered postponing this business trip which had been planned for 3 years but there is nothing either me or any other volunteer could do except watch the excruciatingly slow rescue attempts by the pitifully few “experts”.

        We currently have 8 people living in our house, God knows when they can get back to their’s (if ever).

        In some ways I am not looking forward to returning to Christchurch as, like many, the lack of ability (or opportunity) to actually save lives has been deeply frustrating.

        • RedLogix

          Fair enough grumpy. It seems pertinent to quote Chris Trotter:

          The other lesson which the heroic altruism of ordinary Cantabrians should be teaching our political class is that New Zealanders feel much more like themselves when they’re helping – not hurting – their neighbours.

          • grumpy in Bangkok

            Chris Trotter is a real kiwi gem, isn’t he?

            I don’t know why some of you lefties don’t like him. 🙂

            • RedLogix

              Let’s just say that the young turks tend to see him as a bit ‘past his used by date’. He is rather the social conservative, although no reactionary. His socialism is pretty much focussed through the economic/class conflict lens which some lefties tend to see as a bit passe. At the same time the man can write the ass of any of us … even on his bad days.

              And as they say, he’s probably forgotten more than the boys ever knew.

              • grumpy in Bangkok

                Yeah, the bit you quoted was a gem but now, having read the rest of it, it’s certainly a bit of the curate’s egg.

                However, nobody’s perfect.

                On the rreality side, my first priority when I get back Monday is to find ways to keep my staff employed. The responsibility that a small – medium business owner carries is something not many on the left understand.

                • Colonial Viper

                  The responsibility that a small – medium business owner carries is something not many on the left understand.

                  The capitalist responsibility to not hire staff unless that staff can make much more for you than you pay them is something that the Left understands particularly well.

    • neoleftie 10.2

      I have to agree – from what i understand and hear all praise to the people and communities of chch and wider afield who came together to provide support to those in need. also most people who have stayed have put up with this unbelievable situation as only kiwi’s could do.
      I also agree this has simply been too massive on such a prolonged scale for the usual solutions are in place but its time now that things are in hand now and both the state and local authorities have the day to day immediate issues under control. Just because we are a materialistic and consumer society doesnt mean that we cant all adapt and cope when we are forced too.
      I for one am proud of the community response to such a national wide disaster but time too generate meaningful dialogue…

  11. todd 11

    This is just terrible! Not particularly that Shonkey lied again, but the fact that it has taken so long to get portaloos to those people. What kind of management of the disaster is that? In my experience it should take three days tops to get all the portaloos Christchurch could ever need. There is no shortage of these in New Zealand. It should take no more than five days to organize the servicing of those portaloos. No wonder they were worried about illnesses from sewage. Seems like a bit of a Hurricane Katrina effect going on. The buck stops with National.

    • Lanthanide 11.1

      I’m sure if there were “no shortage in New Zealand” they wouldn’t have just ordered 1000 of them from the US. It’s not just a case of having protaloos available, it’s having portaloos available for a long period of time, like 6 months (or maybe even up to 18). I don’t know that other cities/towns in the country could spare them for that long, and moving them to CHCH only to move them back out again 2-3 weeks later when the international supplies arrive seems like a waste of resources.

      Also, it’s not really John Key’s fault the portaloos didn’t get to the eastern suburbs, it falls squarely on the local civil defence response – they’re in charge of this stuff, not Key. It wouldn’t have been any different with Labour in charge.

      captcha: arithmetic

      • todd 11.1.1

        Who has ordered a thousand portaloos from the US? Reassigning portaloos is easy. Hirequip could have supplied the required portaloos alone, and that’s just one of many companies available. There are no major festivals on so the portaloos are available and cheap to hire.

        Survival basics 101: Water, food, shelter and a crapper. The last one is the easiest to sort, so why hasn’t this been done? Hearing stories like this when I’m essentially unable to do anything about it myself is highly frustrating!

        The government runs Civil Defence, their emergency room is under the beehive isn’t it? The last time I looked, Shonkey was in charge of the Government. Not exactly inspiring leadership though huh! If it’s not his fault Lanthanide, why did he lie about it?

        They could have assessed the situation and made a couple of calls within hours of the earthquake and had the portaloos delivered the next day. But now we are going on two weeks and they still haven’t got their shit together. I’m pretty pissed about this (excuse the puns) and your defense of the inexcusable is shameful!

        captcha: dork!

        • RedLogix


          You’re ranting. Unless you have some actual evidence that this issue was bungled, like information about a massive stack of thousands of them sitting around idle and ignored in a depot somewhere, then really all you a doing is venting.

          And given how very hard many, many public servants have been working to cover this event, in hundreds if not thousands of details, it’s not deserved.

          • todd

            If there is a problem as has been reported, then the cause needs to be found. Is making sure people have a crapper beneath the Governments civil emergency plan? Highlighting a problem and then providing relevant solutions does not undermine how hard many public servants are working to help those effected by the Christchurch Earthquake.

            Commenting on this topic and pointing out where other bloggers are fundamentally wrong is not ranting! It’s called debating the issues. Ever heard of that RedLogix?

            Captcha: ad hominem

            • RedLogix

              As I said before, I’d be impressed with more evidence and less conjecture. We’ve all been guilty of it ….

              And I’ve been around various CD and Emergency Management folk over the last few years to know just how low down in the pecking order they usually are; chronically underfunded and under resourced. And never taken seriously until after the event.

              Kind of like you are right now.

              • todd

                Attributing my post to an accusation that all Civil Defence personnel aren’t doing their job RedLogix, is clearly wrong and not appreciated. Although such things do reflect badly on the profession, that is not within my control. What I’m saying is that such a slow deployment of portaloos into certain areas of Christchurch is not acceptable.

                Any responsibility for this needs to be highlighted and plans implemented or changed so that people do not get sick from resulting diseases. It’s an important issue, which you should not try to dismiss by making up erroneous meaning within my argument.

                I would not view Eddie’s post as conjecture.

                I agree that many emergency services are under-funded. That responsibility also lies with the current Government, who in my opinion seem more concerned with photo opportunities than helping Christchurch.

                PS My funds and resources are none of your business.

                • RedLogix

                  Attributing my post to an accusation that all Civil Defence personnel aren’t doing their job RedLogix, is clearly wrong and not appreciated.

                  You really need to read more carefully. It’s awfully easy to read too quickly and leap to skewed conclusions when blogging. We’ve all done it….

                  Yes we all agree the CD people have been doing their best, and that ultimately systemic failures are the political responsibility of the Minister. But if you’ve been around for more than 10min you’d know that CD has for generations been treated as a bit of a ‘Dads Army’ joke by every administration … left or right.

                  Yes the question is important and worth discussing constructively (as Lanth does at below).

                  PS My funds and resources are none of your business.

                  You have me baffled there… I can’t being to think what prompted you to say that.

                  • todd

                    The issue is not necessarily one of funding for Civil Defense, as the items required can be provided by the private sector. It’s not cost effective for Civil Defense to own a large amount of portaloos… Is that who Lanthanide is saying has ordered a 1000 from the US? Presuming that there is a shortage within New Zealand is incorrect.

                    PS My funds and resources are none of your business. You have me baffled there… I can’t being to think what prompted you to say that.

                    Chronically underfunded and under resourced. And never taken seriously until after the event. Kind of like you are right now.

                    A lack of thought, does seem to be your problem Redlogix.

                    You say I should read more carefully and then say that Lanthanides speculations are a just argument, while he implies that I am blaming the entire Civil Defense response. It’s about learning from mistakes, clearly the portaloos are a deployment mistake. If nobody speaks out, the people who can effect change will not know anything is wrong. Those that are effected by the mistake will continue to suffer.

                    There is a problem as identified, in my opinion the solution was readily available. I have a reasonable amount of knowledge on this subject. It’s two weeks since the Earthquake, a system to provide toilets should have been in place after the first Christchurch Earthquake. Why wasn’t it?

                    • RedLogix


                      OK one last go because you really seem to miss things. Explaining in words of one syllable or less here goes:

                      Chronically underfunded and under resourced. And never taken seriously until after the event. Kind of like you are right now.

                      You’ve conflated the first two sentences for no good reason and come to the wrong conclusion. And one that has no rhyme nor reason to it. Why the hell would I be commenting on your financial state? I’ve no reason to whatsoever.

                      On the other hand if you take just the second sentence; And never taken seriously until after the event. … it does make sense. What I was gently digging at was that it’s very easy to point the finger at organisations like CD after the event, when few took them seriously before it.

                      Sort of like we all are now.

                      Does that makes sense? Please tell me it does.

                      It’s two weeks since the Earthquake, a system to provide toilets should have been in place after the first Christchurch Earthquake. Why wasn’t it?

                      It’s a valid question. But so is, if a major quake hit Wellington right now, how many portaloos would be needed? On top of the current need in ChCh. Or if the Okataina Caldera did a massive eruption and dumped a metre of ash on the entire NI… how many portaloos then?

                      They are valid questions, but we can only answer them in the context of what we expect the risk to be. Frankly no-one expected another quake as damaging as this in ChCh, just like responding to the hypothetical events I’ve mentioned above are not high on anyone’s to-do list right now.

                      Ultimately we are asking the same question. New Zealand is a place of high natural hazard, and as a nation we have for generations tended to downplay this. Maybe we can agree on this, that it is time for us to grow up, recognise that we aren’t bullet-proof (like teenagers are prone to believing) and act accordingly.

                      So yes some hard questions need asking, and a real debate should be happening.

        • neoleftie

          The day after the event on the 23rd while heading to chch i did notice quite a few portaloos heading that way too, and a heck of alot of CD support assets etc too.
          This in the first few days the focus was ,quite rightly. on rescue but i still think after a week CD should have had the resources and planning to help out the eastern suburbs.
          my concerns after this massive disaster are:

          1) lack of CD commuications reaching those effected – all good if you have power for the internet and TV to get minute by minute updates. Where was the Radio broadcast by CD

          2) Lack of a CD and NGO response into the suburbs to provide commuications and supplies – the community had to fend for themselves and provide and coordinate supply distribution centres to feed people over a prolonged period, The new brighton effort was feeding ten thousand people per day. Obviously by day 12 they had full coordinated support from the police ngo and CD.

          3) lack of decisive actions and leadership in getting Operation suburb up and running by the CD and the PM. – The USAR teams via CD had the rescue operation well under control by day 2.


          • Rosy

            Lianne Dalziel “Do you know how they allocated the portaloos? It was who rang their 0800 number the most. If you don’t have power, phone … how can you ring?”

            • handle

              Yes. The issue is not the number of portaloos, it is how fairly they were shared. Same for other resources probably. Echoing the official government line (the one you heard during Key’s flying visit) about the overall “scale” of the problem is insulting to those who know they have less on their street than other suburbs a few miles away.

        • Lanthanide

          The thrust of my argument goes like this:
          1. If there were 1000’s of portaloos waiting to be deployed, then they should’ve been requested and deployed.
          2. I’m pretty sure they would’ve got portaloos from surrounding areas, probably Timaru and Kaikoura and possibly down to Oamaru and Dunedin as well. But getting them from the North Island would definitely take longer than a single day, unless you were willing to urgently air-freight them (really not required – just use a hole for 2-3 days).
          3. The fact that they specifically ordered ~960 portaloos from the US shows that they have considered the problem and determined that it is best to source them internationally, presumably because this will be the most cost effective method to resolve the issue.

          Basically you’re saying that the CD people are stupid and don’t know what they’re doing. As RL says, unless you have proof of these 1000’s of portaloos that can be reassigned from the rest of the country at a moments notice, then you’re really just venting.

          Now, I am in no way saying that the allocation of the portaloos that we do have was handled adquitely, see my post above at #2. But that is a separate issue from sourcing 1000’s of portaloos from out of town – that is about properly allocating those that were available.

          • todd

            Lanthanide, did you see the disabled guy on TV who had to go in the back yard? How difficult do you think that is? Your minimization of the impact from not having portaloos, and attributing that to a financial decision is simply horrible. Just before you go on about something you obviously know nothing about, there are portaloos for disabled people these days.

            The logistics of getting all the portaloos Christchurch requires should have taken three days tops. I fail to see the relevance of your argument that we’re saying Civil Defense is stupid, when it is one particular instance of their operation we’re focusing on. You’re trying to defer responsibility by implying we are being insensitive, which is such a typical evasive maneuver. Something that a person with morals and responsibility does not undertake.

            If deployment of the portaloos was not handled properly, which by all reports it was not. I am wondering how the servicing of those portaloos that are in place is going? There’s not much point having portaloos if they’re not serviced regularly.

  12. gnomic 12

    Was this the excursion on which the Prime Mincer garbed in a Cantab jersey briefly picked up a shovel for the cameras? Are there no depths to which this weasel will not sink? I expect not. Pass the sick bag.

    • Jim Nald 12.1

      There is more to governing than smile, wave, photo-ops, PR and spin.
      The Key Administration, rather than being government, is about entertainment.

      • pollywog 12.1.1

        Can someone tell this gormless wench ?


        I tried, but she doesn’t take criticism too well, preferring to only post up the fluffy supportive comments.

        Hit her up with a damning comment there and see what i mean.

        • lprent

          Busted Blonde? Too boring and shallow.

          The only time she was of much interest was when she and Katie were trading insults to try to boost their ratings. It was an instant education into strange obsessions – rather like reading those magazines at the doctors.

          I really don’t want to go there…

          • todd

            My word that’s an ugly blog site. Is there much point to an echo with the blogosphere?

            • lprent

              It is on my scan list and has been for some time. But it really doesn’t provide much content. Mostly interesting in the same way that Clint Heine is – examining the difference between peoples actual capabilities and their self assessed capabilities. Plus if you see a meme on either of those two sites, then I know what the overall troll lines will be for a week. Both sites appeal to trolls.

              • todd

                Um! I’m not sure I totally agree. One blogs content seems to be akin to the Truth mag and the other is trying too hard to be normal, which is completely boring and everybody knows they probably dress up in gimp outfits each weekend anyway.

                I did enjoy this comment from rawporn though; “He is the sort of wart on a political party, that espouses sensible politics, that needs to be frozen off.” Ha ha! I’m getting a few good laughs in today.

        • Mutante

          Damn you Pollywog. I can’t unread that. It burns. Get it off me. There’s nothing worse than pig ignorant people who are convinced of their own intelligence, and that blog reeks of it.

  13. henry olongo 13

    Hey vto

    You r talking bullshit.
    You are the moaner & I’m calling you out. Do something to help the people who are in need. They ain’t whingers. You been shittin in ya garden for 12 days? Got 100% liquified and still exhausted from cleanup?? Got small children but no heating cos power aint on? Water on but drains all blocked & toilet overflowin? Run outta gas? Don’t know if ur job will exist in 10 days? Need to front cash you ain’t got for the drainlayers? EQC blowin you off about getting ’emergency’ work only done? Worried about staying away from ur house cos this is the eastside?
    I’m pickin ur from the westside & the earthquake has largely been a tv event for you…Want to change channels? Some of us can’t.

    • vto 13.1

      Yes for 9 of them. 10%. Yes. No water busted pipes.Yes. Have no job or business now. No, they will take credit. Yes. Absolutely.

      Handle it olongo.

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