web analytics

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

          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

            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

            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.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    3 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    4 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    4 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    4 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    5 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    5 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    5 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    6 days ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    6 days ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    6 days ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    7 days ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    7 days ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    1 week ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    2 weeks ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago