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NRT: This stinks

Written By: - Date published: 8:40 am, October 11th, 2017 - 71 comments
Categories: disaster, local government - Tags: , , ,

Reposted from No Right Turn


In the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes, the government red-zoned a huge swathe of the city and used coercive buyouts to depopulate and demolish it on “safety” grounds. Now, having snapped up those properties cheaply due to the red-zoning, causing enormous losses to the victims, it now plans to re-offer them for residential development at a profit:

New housing has been confirmed as a possibility for Christchurch’s red zoned river corridor, after close to 7000 households were cleared off it following the earthquakes.

Crown-council agency Regenerate Christchurch on Friday included residential development on five out of 10 land use options it announced for the 602 hectares.

Regenerate chief executive Ivan Iafeta said their goal was to find out how to make “the biggest contribution to Christchurch and New Zealand’s future”.

As one former red-zone resident points out, this is unfair. It looks like they’ve been cleared away for government profit. If the government had acquired this land under the Public Works Act, the former residents would have a right to buy it back. The same should apply to former red zone residents if their land has been deemed safe enough for people to live on.

71 comments on “NRT: This stinks”

  1. tc 1

    Disaster economics is the type of economics national do best.

    CHCH is a case study of the worst kind that NZ needs to be schooled over as most people outside of the main Island are oblivious to this type of abhorrent plunder that has become SOP under National.

    • weka 1.1

      Yes. Still can’t help but feel NZ left Chch to its fate.

      • Psych nurse 1.1.1

        But the true blue, man of the land,Nat supporting people of Kaikoura havn’t been left to the same fate.

        • Keepcalmcarryon

          Kaikoura quake is different for all sorts of reasons to be fair. I doubt the big spend is to do with it being a blue electorate.
          Virtually all the govt money in kk is for NICTR : welfare for roading companies to future proof the highway= put more trucks on it to keep those nat connected lobby groups happy.
          Spend on local business is smallfry but good PR.
          They ( non local company in charge) blew the govt money (and local contributions from tourist operators) for the harbour pretty quickly moving gravel out and back in with a digger instead of using barge from the get go.
          Some great work being done in places and some pockets being lined in others ( buy shares in a helicopter or monsoon bucket company next kk quake )

      • tc 1.1.2

        Didn’t look like they were all that interested themselves in sending a message to national via their voting patterns.

        This tended to make others outside chch think they were doing an OK job…..till you visited and went WTF does this still look in parts like mid 80’s West Beirut

        • weka

          I’d be interested to see a break down of voting by suburb and analysed by which suburbs got hit the worst by the quakes and which got shafted the worst after the quakes.

      • Sabine 1.1.3

        No NZ did not leave CHCH to its fate. We collected, volunteered, prayed, and did a many many other things to help. However we are not the government, and it is the National Government that has dropped the ball – or worst case never even picked it up – and people voted for this government. Again and again and again.

        And why do people always bask in bewilderment that a resource extraction orientated government does precisely what it advertises, run a profit for the few at the expense of the many. National! Sell, Sell, Sell. That is all they ever got.

  2. So smelly this one – profiting from others misery is sick.

  3. Michelle 3

    NZ never left chchs to it fate Weka chch went blue and now they still have the blues
    as tc said via their voting patterns the rest of NZers would naturally think they are happy with the status quo

    • weka 3.1

      Looks to me like a rough split between left and right,


      • Antoine 3.1.1

        A large chunk of Christchurch remains happy with National’s handling of the earthquake, as evidenced by their voting patterns.

        (I was expecting Christchurch to swing way red in 2017 as National’s response seemed to have gone well off the boil in the last few years, but I don’t live in Christchurch and like most who don’t, I misread the mood of the electorate.)


        • Jerko

          The Western suburbs have always been National. They went largely unscathed in the earthquakes. I know this because I was there. I was Redzoned in Avonside and I took the money and ran, never looking back. However I still get to vote for Port Hills after boarding with a friend for a year in Linwood and by virtue of the fact that I visit New Zealand for a week every two years. I rented a place in Ilam for a while. There was minimal damage to the unit I rented that backed onto a creek, except for the Concrete block garage. Anyway What I’d like to know is why the Port Hills electorate that has been Labour forever gave their party vote to National. Yes 5000 Labour voters party voted National. I believe it was because a. New Zealanders are pretty ignorant politically and b.There are a number of people who bought into Nationals bribes of Tax cuts and the other bullshit stories Lynton Cosby had them feed the media. That being said, the Red zoned land should never have been built on and should never be built on again. There is no amount of remediation that will fix liquifucked land – the land is still sitting on Liquified silt. It’s a swamp! If the National Party Govern again they will surely sell off the land to some foreign buyer/developer. That’s what they do.

          • Antoine

            > There is no amount of remediation that will fix liquifucked land – the land is still sitting on Liquified silt. It’s a swamp!

            I’m no expert on this. The original article mentions “filling and raising the land, and shoring it up with stone piles”. Is this not effective?


      • tracey 3.1.2

        You also have to look at where the 7000 went. They are probably not in Poto Williams electorate anymore. Anecdotally I have been told many moved to Rolleston area which puts them in Selwyn.

        Nonetheless there does seem to be a sense in this country that no matter how shafted people are by national they deserve another chance to deliver…

  4. adam 4

    And yet you will still cling to believing the state is good.

    • Who believes that Adam – i spose you mean nrt – can’t agree with that.

      • adam 4.1.1

        So you are happy for us to remove the state, because it fails at being good?

        • weka

          the state does good things too. I’ll be more interested in removing the state when I see some serious addressing of what it would be replaced with. For instance, no police force, how will women manage safety issues? Or if there is no welfare state, how will I live with no income and no ability to earn enough to live on?

          • adam

            So the state is good for you, as it keeps itself tethered to it.

            • weka

              “So the state is good for you”

              I wouldn’t say it’s good for me so much as it provides things that need replacing if the state is removed.

              “as it keeps itself tethered to it.”

              I don’t know what that means. As the state keeps the state tethered to the state?

    • Stuart Munro 4.2

      The state is the current unit of political accountability. Globalisation = less accountability. Anarchy is simply a very bad idea – unless you’re a predatory corporation.

      • adam 4.2.1

        Your funny Stuart Munro – how has the last 9 years been any sort of accounting for those who took their own lives, the people losing their houses and made homeless, the deaths in prison, the murders by the police.

        Where is this accountability you talk of?

        All I’m seeing is the predatory corporations getting what they want, profit – at any cost. That is the state perpetuating that, not the absence of a state.

        • Stuart Munro

          That is because the current crop of thieves and scoundrels pretending to the mantle of Westminster descended governance are a pack of crooks and scofflaws who don’t give a deleted expletive about their people much less their country.

          Traditionally such behavior entails certain risks, not least of which are charges of treason, writs of attainder, and an opportunity to ‘show what they are made of’.

          Until we revive these important checks and balances our outlook is bleak. But one should not mistake the outcomes of a failure to govern for a failure of the nation state per se.

          An anarchist state would suffer from the same malaise, but the citizens would have no constitutional apparatus for bringing the guilty to heel. We would be obliged to adopt more spontaneous forms of political censure that, typically, are a short cut to despotism.

  5. Antoine 5

    It’s weird to characterise the red zone offer, and subsequent plans to sell some of the red zone, as profiteering.

    The land was bought at a generous price and since lost almost all its commercial value. Even if the Government does manage to get some money for bits of the red zone, it will still have made a substantial loss on the deal. That loss has gone to the pockets of the red zone residents to (in many cases) save them from financial ruin.


    • Stuart Munro 5.1

      I think you’ll find many of those obliged to relocate would not agree.

      Compensation was not generous, and resulted in numerous court cases, which the government generally lost. https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/95319282/quake-outcasts-decision-unlawful-for-govt-to-discriminate-in-red-zone-buyout

      It was just another instance of Gerry Brownlee riding roughshod over NZ voters – not in his own electorate of course. They got pampered.

      • tracey 5.1.1

        And the stress which goes way beyond a financial value

        • Antoine

          There was no way anyone in the red zone was going to escape without _some_ stress, whatever happened.

          I think most of them, exiting with a large cash settlement, would have ended up much happier than many landowners outside the red zone.


          • Stuart Munro

            Perhaps you should take the trouble to inform yourself about the issue before offering your opinion. I had family members in the red zone who would disabuse you of your fantasy in short order.

            • Antoine

              They’re not remainers are they? I understand the remainers have a pretty rough time


              • Stuart Munro

                Who and what they are is none of your business. They and their former neighbours are very well informed on the progress of events in the red zone and I can promise you none of them have a good word for the outgoing government.

                They hate them, and their neighbours hate them, and every day they marvel that Brownlee the crook remains at large.

          • tracey

            That shows a lack of understanding of how money compensates (or does not)stress. Relationships under stress can fail. Families under stress suffer mentally and this includes children. Young children feeling stress do not have the cognition to process the facts and turn it on themselves (somehow they are responsible for this stress in the family, what did they do or not do). lack of sleep. Physical health problems.

            Can you explain what you mean by “large cash settlement”?

            • Antoine

              > That shows a lack of understanding of how money compensates (or does not)stress.

              Of course, I appreciate that people in the red zone were stressed. I never said otherwise and it was never going to be otherwise. People outside the red zone were stressed too, for different reasons.

              > Can you explain what you mean by “large cash settlement”?

              Enough money to buy a home somewhere else. As opposed to the situation of someone outside the red zone, potentially waiting on an insurance settlement for years, unable to move.


              • tracey

                Ok so enough money to buy a similar home somewhere else is not necessarily the same as a “large cash settlement”, given the value of the majority of properties impacted were from poorer areas of Christchurch.

                we can also discuss the callousness of the insurance industry’s response and the part the govt played in that if you would like? Inextricably combined with what is anecdotedly described as corruption which is suggested to have been known about right up to Brownlee’s office and those attempting to shine a light on it dealt with swiftly.

                You can choose to intellectualise this Antoine, and use words like “appreciate” to suggest an understanding of the issues beyond monetary but it is ringing a little hollow tbh.

                • Antoine

                  > we can also discuss the callousness of the insurance industry’s response and the part the govt played in that if you would like? Inextricably combined with what is anecdotedly described as corruption which is suggested to have been known about right up to Brownlee’s office and those attempting to shine a light on it dealt with swiftly.

                  I don’t have a view on any of those things

                  > You can choose to intellectualise this Antoine, and use words like “appreciate” to suggest an understanding of the issues beyond monetary

                  The OP is about a monetary issue – profiteering – so my comments were about monetary issues as well.


              • KJT

                It. In most cases, ended up as not enough money to get anywhere near replacing what they had lost. As speculators in Canterbury housing and land have made a killing.

        • Stuart Munro

          Yes – folk under stress, and many were after the earthquake, have fewer financial or nervous resources with which to contest Brownlee’s egregious theft.

    • tracey 5.2

      Generous? People had to sue the govt! That action alone is not cheap. Factor in the stress of beibg offered low ball… then suing your own govt.

      Can you post your evidence for the loss the govt will have made on the red zone even ” if it does manage to get some money”?

      • Antoine 5.2.1

        > Generous? People had to sue the govt!

        Is this with reference to uninsured land, where people were offered half the 2007 value (which is a lot better than the zero they would otherwise have got), and then sued the Govt, ending up with a new offer of 100% of the 2007 value (generous to the point of creating moral hazard)?

        > Can you post your evidence for the loss the govt will have made on the red zone even ” if it does manage to get some money”?

        Easy, right now they are about $1.3B in the hole: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/96144297/govt-spent-15-billion-acquiring-christchurch-red-zone-land-thats-now-worth-just-21m


        • Stuart Munro

          The court obliged the government to lift the offer because it was manifestly unjust.

          So it wasn’t generous at all – why are you trying to sell this outrageous nonsense?

          • Antoine

            I just explained that. The first offer would still have been better than the nil that uninsured parties might rightly expect. The second offer, which was what they actually got following legal action, was generous.

            Red zoned people should know they are unlikely to have done better under a different Govt.


            • Stuart Munro

              Oh I don’t know – a government that did not conspire to rob them of their land with a view to profiting from it later might have behaved very differently.

              It’s fair to say that Christchurch people suffered greatly from Brownlee’s greed and corruption – he even went so far as to load CERA with fraudsters.

              Red zoned people know that they were robbed by a government paid and sworn to protect their interests – they wouldn’t agree with a fool like you anytime soon.

            • tracey

              Maybe not better but quicker. And I base that on not all parties having a spreadsheet only or poll driven, approach to social justice.

            • tracey

              Are you saying the legal action did not impact the outcome for the people? You certainly cant be saying the Courts made a moral, rather than legal decision?

        • tracey

          Let’s wait and see if it is worth just $21m now that it has been rezoned and developers are hovering to build river view property. I wonder if the book value took account of this?

          Nonetheless you do seem to be quite blasé about the impacts of stress on human beings, for many over lots of years and that a stroke of a pen and some money can just undo all that harm.

          *I* am one of the people whose money helped these folks out and I have no doubt that whatever money they ended up with, in most cases, does not undo what they endured both as a result of the physical movement of the earth and the slow progress and barriers of govt and insurance companies.

          And to qualify this I was a leaky home owner, not because of an accident of nature but deliberate actions of human beings within the buliding industry and amongst legislators and regulators and there are tens of thousands in Auckland alone who cannot sell or repair their leaky homes, and most fall outside the 10 years to claim in Courts and to recover 25% from the govt.

          • Antoine

            > Nonetheless you do seem to be quite blasé about the impacts of stress on human beings

            I don’t think my views on the impacts of stress on human beings are relevant.

            NRT’s original post and most of the reactions to it above are predicated on the idea that the Government was profiteering on red zone land. That is, the Government bought the land cheap and will make money by flogging it off. Hence for instance Marty’s comment that “profiting from others misery is sick”.

            The primary purpose of my comments was to remind people that the Government will still end up having made a very large financial loss. The purchase of red zone land was never intended to be, and will not be, a profitable venture.

            The secondary purpose was to remind people that the red zone offer was on the whole reasonably generous in financial terms. Some years ago, this was the view of the majority of interested people both within and outside Christchurch, and I was surprised to find anyone arguing the reverse now.

            That is all.


            • Stuart Munro

              That is all nonsense.

              The offer was measly. The court found that it was inadequate. Moreover, the outgoing government has a prodigious talent for losing money – from SCF to Saudi sheep to flags to the Asian bank – these poltroons don’t a fucking fiscal clue. Why the already suffering citizens of the red zone must further subsidize Brownlee’s blithering incompetence is not apparent to anyone not a vile toady of that abominable failure of an administration. They need the proceeds from their property to rehouse themselves.

              The understanding under which they were deprived of their homes was that the area could not be made habitable – now suddenly it can. So it was a fraud. Par for the course from this disgusting graft-ridden cesspit of an administration. Many of these people put years of their lives into back-breaking toil clearing tonnes liquefaction to make their properties habitable once more. But they were ruled uninhabitable. Until Gerry was ready to profit from the theft. The bastard should be horse-whipped.

              • Antoine

                I dont really agree with any of that. Im just glad that some of the red zoned land, previously thought unfit for habitation,will now be put to use and some families will get homes there.


    • Jerko 5.3

      Really? And you know this because?

  6. RedLogix 6

    The Public Works Act has pretty much always allowed this sort of thing to happen; especially for road construction. It’s not at all uncommon for a large corridor of land to be compulsorily purchased for a new highway, way more than is required … and what is not used is later sold for a considerable profit.

    It’s rarely happened on this scale and it begs the question that if the land was condemned as ‘unsafe’ and this was the reason for the compulsory purchase, then how has it been ‘remediated’ and now deemed ‘safe’ for residential purposes.

    • Craig H 6.1

      It was always the case that the red-zoned land was deemed unsafe without remediation, not necessarily totally unsafe forever. Not that I agree other aspects of the process or some of the prices on offer, mind, but the government never ruled out selling some of the red zone as residential land after remediation, because it was always recognised that some of it was more about allowing people to move on and make a life elsewhere rather than trying to work through the insurance and EQC morass.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        Thanks … that does make sense.

        Maybe the old owners should have been given first option or right of refusal. That may well be have better optics.

        • Antoine

          While at the same time destroying any chance of getting substantial new developments in place any time soon.


          • tracey

            Why would that have destroyed chance of substantial new developments (needs defining btw) “any time soon”?

            Such offers have a reasonable time limit placed on them to exercise the option or refuse. Why should third party developers be a better option than owners returning to build their own building?

            • Antoine

              Well, I think giving ‘first right of refusal’ would have quickly led into an emotive morass with no end in sight and few or no dwellings getting constructed. If you have a different view as to what would have taken place, that’s fine.

              Anyway, it’s a moot point as the original red zone offer provided no right of refusal. Indeed, I think it would have been a mistake to include such in the offer, as it would have given many false hope as to the ongoing viability of their property.


              • Jerko

                Actually after the Sept 4 earthquake – the biggest one, they fully intended to remediate the land where I lived in the Avon Loop. It was going to take forever for them to even know if it would work and then the second and third earthquakes hit each one depositing more silt and each time my garage sinking further and the house tilting. Try r mediating that. It would have cost billions more to have fixed the land and the houses on it. The Government and Insurance were off the hook. There is no way I would ever buy any of that land again and it should never be built on – ever!

      • greywarshark 6.1.2

        The people did try to introduce some raional thinkingand cost benefit analysis and community support combined, into government thinking but lost.

        When the entire Brooklands suburb was red-zoned by Cera, [Olly] Ohlson helped set up the community group of 50 families called Brooklands Stayers.

        He is filming the community’s struggles and progress, and has plans to turn the footage into a documentary….
        His own home has been red-zoned and, like others, he has been caught in the insurance twist where the insurance company will only pay the amount to fix a home, rather than the amount to replace it – even though the house will be lost because it is on land that the homeowner has to leave….

        “The legal opinion by Dr Duncan Webb, a partner in the Christchurch law firm Lane Neave, provides some hope for red-zoned residents such as myself. He has stated: ‘It is our view that on the terms of standard insurance policies, other than those expressly limited only to physical loss, that where a property is in the red zone the obligations of the insurer will be to replace that property’.

        “This means therefore that everyone in a red-zone area should be rebuilt or alternatively cashed up to that amount.
        “Based on this legal opinion there could be an avenue for people to take insurers to court in retrospect for losses they incur as a result of being bullied into accepting the Government’s offers.”

        Ohlson says Prime Minister John Key should instruct Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee to fix the land at an estimated maximum cost of $45m as opposed to the cost of red-zoning, estimated to be $57.7m. “These figures were from documents released by Cera,” Ohlson says.

  7. Jum 7

    read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine and Christchurch will know it’s been had by political and privatisation greed, that benefits from people’s misery.

  8. Pat 8

    for anyone who wishes to begin an understanding of the Christchurch EQ experience….and keep in mind the statement from John Key shortly after the Feb 2011 quake (from memory) re winners and losers……Christchurchs recent history has indeed been a very different experience depending on which side you fell….
    it begs the question ‘what is the role of government’…..especially when the government adopted exactly the same strategies as the private insurers.


    and a search of the phrase ‘delay, deny, defend will assist

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