Kia Kaha Canterbury

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, February 16th, 2017 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, energy, Environment, ETS, Gerry Brownlee, global warming, greens, labour, national, national/act government, paula bennett, same old national - Tags:

To the residents of Canterbury can I express my hope that you are safe and that you recover from what is clearly a traumatic event.

And can I apologise for getting political about this but the issue is important because our current political system will mean that further disasters like this will occur more and more regularly.

Because it is pretty well inevitable that climate change caused or contributed to the fire.

The predictions are that the effects of climate change will not only be greater overall temperatures but also more severe localized weather fluctuations with the west coast of New Zealand geating wetter, the East Coast and the North drier, and greater wind occurring, just the sorts of conditions to turn the East and North into tinder boxes.

And following last year, which was the warmest year on record, we now have drought conditions in the North and fires in Hawkes Bay and Canterbury.

Rachel Stewart sums up our current predicament well and calls out to all progressives to coordinate our efforts:

My thing is clean rivers. Your thing may be cycling lanes, or overfishing. It doesn’t matter. We’re all out here trying to put out fires – fires that spring up out of nowhere but which necessitate a response.

Head down, bum up we fight the good fight and give our lives meaning at the same time. Except, have you lifted your head up lately and had a good, hard look around? We’re losing our collective and individual battles.

Just about every bit of bad news is directly linked to climate change. Everything. Oh, and the greed of the few who are trying to extract even more before the inevitable breakdown.

Drought in the east of the country needs to be called what it is: the new norm. Irrigation and the building of dams won’t solve that.

She has put out this rallying call:

What to do?

For a start, it’s time to stop getting caught up in the individual fights and realise that climate change is a mission that must be tackled on a World War II scale. All hands on deck.

We must stop believing governmental and corporate lies about why we can’t economically do such things, or anything. Because, you know, the economy.

We need to wise up to the fact that continuing to compartmentalise our endless individual battles – pay equity, dirty dairying, transport, roading, autism funding, education, intersectional feminism, partisan politics – is a waste of precious energy.

Don’t get me wrong. All are beyond important but, ultimately, unless we tackle climate change and right now, there’ll be no human rights or environment to actually fight for.

The Government’s response has been typical.  Gerry Brownlee chose to respond to the Canterbury crisis by blaming Civil Defence.  Why is everything that goes wrong always someone else’s fault as far as Gerry is concerned?  And just this week as the evidence of dramatic climate change became so clear Paula Bennett claimed that New Zealand is on the right track.  But her Government’s obsession with motorway construction and its refusal to add agriculture to the ETS show clearly where its priorities are and how distorted its judgment is.

What can we do individually?  Some quite simple things will help.  Get a fuel efficient car, catch public transport as often as possible, eat less meat (you will not believe how beneficial this is), take shorter showers and recycle more.  And take less international flights or at least buy green miles to lessen the effect.

And collectively?

Well the future of our world is at stake.  We need to drive every single climate change denier and obfuscator from office.  All of them.  Make sure that people power exceeds the power of oil industry money and the idiotic world views of people who are far too wealthy for their own good.

Locally this means a Labour-Green Government with no room for New Zealand First.

Now more than ever is the time that all good activists need to get active and passionate about their country’s and the world’s future.

34 comments on “Kia Kaha Canterbury”

  1. Cinny 1

    It’s so sad what is happening down there, fires are terrifying, especially on this scale.

    Couldn’t believe what Brownlee said yesterday, already he is playing the blame game, something he is very good at, Something that isn’t going to help anyone at the present time.

    Maybe all he is thinking about are votes, trying not to make himself look like the waste of space he is.

    Those fighting the fires need to be congratulated for putting their lives on the line. It’s hard to control nature Gerry, maybe you should blame nature instead of the brave hero’s fighting the fires.

    • Sabine 1.1

      well nothing so easy as to blame those that are volunteers.

      the waitakere voluntary brigade is currently fighting in hastings.

      but hey, they don’t get paid, so that must make it very easy to put blame on them? or something.

      yes, many of those that are fighting these fires are not full time paid firefighters.

  2. Yep the new normal is terrifying and it is the first part of the slippery slope. Make personal changes now cos time has run out and everything adjusted now will make big differences in the near future.

  3. I am sure there will be many in Ch-Ch who will tell Gerry to go and, Get F–d.

    He is just another bombastic fool.

  4. saveNZ 4

    The wildfires are probably Labour’s fault. sarc.

    The drought situation has to be addressed and unlikely by this government who think that holding all the water to be irrigated will be a long term situation. Instead it will make everything worse as more un suitable farms are in areas that should be converted into something more drought resistant – and more cows etc are going to pollute the groundwater more.

    So privatise the water at taxpayers expense for a small group of people and don’t worry about polluting it more. i.e. waster resources. is Natz answer.

    God knows what their answer is to the wildfires, run down and privatise civil defence to make it more efficient like the US style Hurricane Katrina???

    We have seen what the Natz answer to homeless crisis is, leave state houses empty and put the people in hotels at taxpayers expense at $1000 a week, with loans that put people into more debt and actually stop homeless people entering WINZ to get their entitlements with security guards at the door.

    And their war on P, which seems to have fizzled out with the lack of MAF and security at the borders.

    And the new CYF ideas of some sort of Aboriginal style baby snatching to put with different cultures, rather than firing the dead wood in CYF (many should have resigned with the constant scandals of mismanagement of kids), adding more and better social workers and treating them better so they can do their job, and actually ensuring through legislation that Kiwi families have enough to live on and enough mental/drug/alcohol/family violence rehabilitation treatment centres.

    NZ government can give money to Scenic hotels, the Clinton fund, Saudi Business men, US and UK embassy real estate, now even the councils are getting in on the act with rate payer money to Singapore Airlines and Westfield development malls, but sadly there is no money left over for anyone genuinely in need, basic services or to prevent imminent disasters and issues to Kiwis.

    What a government!

  5. mauī 5

    Good post. The thing that worries me is that we have major wildfires that people have never seen the likes of, 40 deg heatwaves in Sydney and major (dam) infrastructure at the point of failure, and there’s no link made to climate change in the media. Our cultural state of denial is deep rooted.

  6. Bill 6

    Rachel Stewart gets it. That call for a mass mobilisation, as in being on a war footing, has been made by others and it’s good to hear it echoed yet again.

    My fear is that we’re too sunk in the ‘I’m all right Jack’ bullshit. So Australia melted and it was cold here. The Port Hills are ablaze, but it was hailstones and rain here.

    And I (not ‘me’, but you know what I mean) experience hailstones and rain and fail to connect that to the Port Hills or whatever because my experience is local and my understanding of CC is simply that shit heats up….but it’s only happening ‘over there’ or ‘down there’ and not here…. and just for a short time anyway.

    Oh look! Tomatoes are on special again – whoop!

  7. Chch_chiquita 7

    I so wish the cloud that is hanging above us at the moment was a rain cloud and not the smoke coming from Port Hills 🙁

    My husband said this morning it is not nice to hand back the rental we live in at the moment with dry grass. I told him we will not water it as there is water shortage and I have no intention of wasting water for something that we shouldn’t have here in Christchurch, or at least not at the scale we have. Very happy with our decision to move into a town house with minimal garden.

    On our summer holiday, driving through the Mackenzie basin towards Wanaka, dry as land being irrigated for…. yes, you guessed correctly – dairy farming. All I could think of was – how stupid is that?!?

  8. dukeofurl 8

    Changing climate has been an ongoing issue

    28.12.1872: bush fires around Dunedin.
    9.1.1879: Carterton surrounded by a bush fire, and almost destroyed.
    2.4.1881: huge bush fire from Wellington to Makara coast.
    22.12.1882: big bush fire between Fielding and Bunnythorpe, in the Manawatu.
    1885- 86 Season: extensive fires throughout the whole country. The Taranaki town of Stratford was almost obliterated.
    22.2.1887: wind-driven fires in Wellington, Wairarapa, Seventy Mile Bush and Manawatu. Palmerston North was in extreme danger..
    1887- 88 Season: the village of Norsewood is destroyed by fire.
    7.3.1889: Port Hills and Oxford burning in Canterbury
    27.12.1890: Canterbury was beset with bush fires.
    January,1897: Drought prevailed in many parts of the country. There were several large bush fires around Whangamata and on the Coromandel Peninsula. Central Taranaki and Canterbury were again under threat, particularly around Oxford and up the Waimakariri. Fires were burning even in the swamp lands around Hamilton. However, it was the Wairarapa that got hit the hardest, with houses and other property being destroyed.
    1897- 98 Season: many large fires, mostly in central NZ, with the township of Pahiatua severely damaged.
    http://www.ruralfirehistory.org.nz/2nd.htm .

  9. greywarshark 9

    The committed and trained people in the Fire Service are regularly needed and sometimes heroes. The government is trying to milk their commitment to the public good, especially worthy of commendation are the volunteers. The government in the name of efficiency, is shifting more tasks to their shoulders, being used as first on the spot medical treatment and taking the roles that police should be present to fill.
    The public need to protect our ambulance people and fire service also as the trend to see physical workers as just people to be exploited by the bums on seats with degrees and suits.

    And I understand that Fire Service personnel are poorly paid, $60000 to $70000 salary for leading positions.

    We have to watch over government very vigilant as they seek to demolish and diminish our key people that the public needs. It is strange that our PM ended up with the surname key, which sounds like an opening for all, instead he was the opposite.

  10. inspider 10

    Of course it’s climate change. Nor’westers, summer and scrub fires were unheard of in Canterbury before this one.

  11. Skeptic 11

    As a long time Chch resident – over 60 years- I can remember summers in the 50s & 60s when there would be regular burn-offs of tussock – most controlled, but quite a few not – but this was when sheep grazing was the normal use for the Hills. Gorse was burnt off quite a bit as well. The problem seems to be that pines and houses have been planted where once there was paddocks. Tinder dry conditions and accidents/mishaps do tend to happen during strong NW conditions. It was inevitable that something like this was going to happen. A word of warning for Port Hills dwellers – when I was 7, our science teacher, who was a geologist, reminded us that the Port Hills comprise largely of loess – a wind blown loose soil that is very light and packs down to form a clay like substance – over igneous rock. This a very poor substance on which to build, because when exposed (as it is now following the fires) and becomes wet – like during the next rainfall – loess has the consistency and attributes of porridge. It tends to flow downhill at a great rate of knots – especially when laying over igneous rock. So unless any building is anchored to bedrock, it too will flow downhill at a great rate of knots. I wonder if the building codes are up to scratch? I also wonder how many Port Hills buildings are future deathtraps?

  12. greywarshark 12

    Radio report of how some police are handling the situation of getting people out of the fire zone. Given a few minutes to leave, the male partner took one of his three vehicles down the road for a friend to come and pick up. The police refused his friend to come up and refused the man access back to his home to get his partner still there and he didn’t have a way of communicating with her. He was threatened hy the police with handcuffs as he argued.

    It reminds me of the intransigence of police control during the earthquake, and also of the way they controlled Pike River mine, refusing to enter it themselves, and barring miners from putting forward a reasonable plan to enter with safeguards.

    It is time that police had different training so that they work with citizens. At present they are just heavyweights who enforce the law, without real interaction. It is time that they were stripped of their autonomy and had to inform people about situations not just order them around. Much of their behaviour alienates them from their fellow citizens.
    The voters should be able to decide more about their systems and ethics and practices.

  13. the pigman 13

    “We need to wise up to the fact that continuing to compartmentalise our endless individual battles – pay equity, dirty dairying, transport, roading, autism funding, education, intersectional feminism, partisan politics – is a waste of precious energy.”

    If Rachel Stewart were a man and deigned to suggest that people’s niche/special interests fights were less important than the flaming inferno in the room, I know a few of the commenters here would be calling for him to be thrown into that very flaming inferno.

    • weka 13.1

      I’m not sure it’s gender that’s the qualifier so much as gender politics. If by ‘man’ you mean man who doesn’t like identity politics and wants all the other people to shut up then yeah, of course.

  14. Paul Campbell 14

    I lived in Berkeley and Oakland (across from San Francisco) for 20 years, we lived thru the Oakland Hills fire (1000 homes) and the Loma Prieta earthquake (the one that brought the bridge and freeways down) – it seemed like one disaster after another, like it would never stop.

    I understand how Christchurch must feel like right now – it will end

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