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Open mike 26/02/2011

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, February 26th, 2011 - 97 comments
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Open mike is your post.

It’s open for discussing topics of interest, making announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

Comment on whatever takes your fancy.

The usual good behaviour rules apply (see the link to Policy in the banner).

Step right up to the mike…

97 comments on “Open mike 26/02/2011 ”

  1. William Joyce 1

    How would the emergency in Christchurch have fared if the notorious evil bloated “back office” of the public service had been decimated in favour of the “front line staff” ?

    The actions I see on television make me proud to be a New Zealander.

    I am equally proud of all those “back office” people in our “bloated” public service who for years have indeed “pushed paper” as they thought about what-if-scenarios and have allowed our nation to have the human and physical infrastructure to respond as well, and as speedily, as we have.

    Even now, these people are working in places that the camera will not go, (ie, that evil place called the “back office”), to make this effort happen.

    There’s nothing so civilising as having a good civil service. Congrats to all you hard working “back office” people.

    (It’s wearying having to check and recheck my spelling of “Christchurch” for fear that Debra C. might be drinking for breakfast again *sigh*)

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Exactly… in behind all the tragedy and losses it’s easy to lose sight of all the things that did work. The buildings that did remain standing and saved their occupant’s lives, the emergency power systems that did work, the plans that were practised and tested and did work on the day, the staff who pulled out their response folders and looked to see what they should do, myriads of small complex details that were necessary to get important tasks done quickly and effectively.

      And while there was a huge amount of spontaneous and wholly admirable responses from ordinary people who reached out to help those around them, there was an equally important planned response to this crisis…without which there really would have been utter chaos for days and weeks afterwards.

      As one person put it .. surviving the event is a matter of luck, surviving the aftermath is a matter of planning.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      The rescue and civil defence response has been called, by an international involved in it, the best prepared he’s ever seen.

  2. Nick 2

    Just got back from elderly parents in Lyttelton, complete nightmare and shambles. Amazing how community and neighbours pulled together. A most comforting thing for the whole community was having our Army and Navy personnel in port and on the streets. Having the Army dish out meals coooked by the Navy at the Community Centre meant a lot, people ate together and swapped tales of woe and wonder. A big thank to the Forces for that gesture.

    On another note the water is off, and three days of no water is no fun. You notice it on the kitchen surfaces, you cant wash hands, you have to boil what you have carried in. Its a recipe for disease. No sewerage, ditto. Little things you normally take for granted, three days without a wash, no ability to wask clothes etc.

    The information flow, a comment: constant calls to check the Web for service information etc. Its a great tool, BUT not everybody has it, or has current access. Its a double edged sword, it can dissempower as much as empower.

    • Carol 2.1

      Thanks for the report. We have heard little from Lyttelton. It’s good to hear about the community spirit. I heard a tip on the radio yesterday, from someone who’d been in a disaster in another country. Apparently neat washing up liquid works well as a hand sanitiser.

    • lprent 2.2

      I am not surprised that it is a shambles. Looking at the available data on the quake, I am just amazed the the town has buildings standing. It was really really violent there.

      Civil disasters are the number two mission of the military. They now have their biggest civil deployment ever inside NZ. But I have to say that having the Canturbury in the harbor was sublime fortuitiness. It would have provided the required support to get the relief effort up and running there – a good thing.

      Btw: have they reopened the tunnel?

      We have a number of our authors in and around Christchurch at present – mostly helping elderly family. They are also saying the network access and even the media access is difficult.

      • lprent 2.2.1

        They must have reopened the tunnel. Breakfast just did an interview looking at the incoming vessels to Lyttleton and what was on them. They must be shipping those goods through the tunnel because the road through the hill looks like it will require some significiant repairs.

        • Lanthanide

          They opened it yesterday to general vehicles I believe. There was a comment by someone (Bob Parker?) that it had held up very well, and he’s heard from miners and like that being inside the tunnel is often safer than outside during quakes, due to rock falls.

          • ianmac

            They feared that the entrances were the problem from the possible rock falls which could block the entrance rather than falls in the interior.

            • jimmy

              The interview with a bus driver who was in the tunnel at the time of the quake was classic. He said he looked back to the people on the bus and said ‘you will have to excuse my driving’ and then boosted it out of there, top bloke.

          • jcuknz

            Safe in tunnel …. As was illustrated by the sad case of the woman who rushed outside of a shop with her baby and was killed by falling brickwork …I thought the first rule was to stand under a doorway or a stout table as some of the survivors had done.
            If more people used alcohol rubs they would be available for emergencies. Waiting in doctor’s rooms and hospitals I have been interested to observe how many do NOT use the hand disinfectants provided.

            • jimmy

              I have heard that the doorway trick is not as relevant as it used to be as the doorways in modern houses are much less sturdy than they used to be. Dont quote me on that though as im no expert.

            • Colonial Viper

              Unless you have direct cause to worry about microbial contamination (e.g. you are stitching wounds, preparing food etc) you should never use hand disinfectants. They ruin the normal protective immune functions of commensal skin bacteria.

              • jimmy

                My thoughts exactly, whenever I go to peoples places who have dettol hand soap or the likes I always give them a lesson in evolution. Hospitals need that shit for important stuff like saving lives.

              • jcuknz

                If my son who is an infectious disease specialist uses alcohol rubs when we are out camping it is good enough for me. As also does my Daughter in law who is an ICU nurse. I take your point but what is your source CV? I can also see it might be a professional habit being carried over from work to play 🙂 Having wiped off all the good bacteria at work you need to keep up the practice away from work perhaps.

            • Lanthanide

              Certainly during the quake you should definitely stay inside, preferably under a table or in a doorway. It’s quite common for there to be big shakes within a few minutes of each other as well, so best to stay inside for 2-3 minutes before you decide to rush out of the building.

            • Deborah Kean

              Thanks to my son the nurse, I have a good supply of alcohol rubs here in the house! (He would put them in his pockets during a shift, forget them, and bring them home, then take them out of his pocket before washing his uniform tunic and leave them lying around.)
              I would hate to be without water, and I hope I will never need to make use of these things!

          • lprent

            Good. It is probably going to be easiest to resupply the city from the sea. I would expect that the rail system has taken another hit.

    • just saying 2.3

      Hi Nick,

      Are you usually called Nick S?

      Have been hoping that s/he, and other regulars from ChCh are OK.

      • IrishBill 2.3.1

        I’m also concerned for our regulars including vto.

        • lprent

          I will email them. If they get access to a net link then that is the lowest bandwidth.
          Looks like I have a valid email for vto. Know I have one for Nick S. Anyone else?

          • just saying

            I don’t know if Bill’s from Chch, but he is a mainlander, unheard of since the earthquake. Puddleglum has been open about living in Chch.

            I quite understand that all the Cantabrians will have much better things to do than interwebbing, that’s assuming they are in a poition to do so.

            lpent, I always assume you techo-boffins are pretty much omniscient. Would it be poss’ to do a search of the ChCh/Cant commenters, and then email the regulars from that list?

            • IrishBill

              Bill’s fine.

            • lprent

              Yeah most will have better things to do – water, food, sanitation, and habitation. But there is always quite a lot of “hurry up and wait” that the net addicted tend to fill if they have access. But the comms there are pretty poor. Lyn got a rapid conformation on her family down there. However she hasn’t been able to get hold of an old boyfriend despite trying many times – she has been getting worried about that. Fortunately I don’t have family or friends who are in Christchurch these days.

              Ummm I will have a look at the IP’s and emails and see what I can do for commentators from Christchurch. I am finding it a bit frustrating that there is little I can do at present due to my recent heart attack.

        • Lanthanide

          I posted in openmic yesterday or the day before. From vto’s comments on the 4th September, it looks like he lives in Brighton or to the east, so may not have power yet.

      • Nick 2.3.2

        No, normally post under another name. Hope he / she OK, I just went to help parents.

        Capcha: vacation LOL

  3. Wyndham 3

    William Joyce.

    You say precisely what has been passing through my mind these last few days.

    Let’s hope these sentiments get through to Bill English who seems to be the one constantly using the terms ‘back office’, ‘bloated’ and ‘bureaucrats’ whenever he refers to the public service.

    • Peter 3.1

      Interesting terminology from Bill when you consider he is referring to his own staff. Clearly Bill is not cut-out to be a CEO.

      • William Joyce 3.1.1

        Good point, Peter. These guys have each day full of appointments, appearances and pressers that there is no way they do the sort of nuts and bolts work that develops policy. They rely heavily on the “back office” in order to look like they work for a living.
        Then to publicly demean and demonise the people that make them look good……there are names for people like that!

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.2

        Sheeesh if Bill English wanted to look find one of his self-labelled career bureaucrats and lifetime feeders out of the public purse he merely need to look in a mirror.

  4. ianmac 4

    The tap runs clean water.
    The stove cooks porridge.
    The freezer preserves.
    The windows keep the flies out.
    The toilet flushes.
    The drain drains.
    The roads are smooth.
    The internet keeps in touch.
    The text responds.
    The Supermarket markets.
    And the passersbys are at ease.
    All is well but
    Our tears fall for Christchurchians.

  5. weka 5

    Kim Hill is interviewing an earthquake engineer. He’s just said that rebuilding is a matter of risk management vs economics.

    In other words (my words), if they rebuild from the ‘technology will solve our problems’ paradigm, inherent in this is the fact that people will die again. Buildings are not eq proofed, they’re quake resistant. Get a big enough quake and buildings will fall. Alongside that is, how can we afford to build the best eq resistant buildings? And replace the substandard ones? The reality is that we can’t. There will have to be a risk vs economic trade-off in favour of economics.

    We need to think about this differently. The solutions aren’t solely technological. More important is changing how we think about cities and our lives and design from that (at the moment pretty much everyone is talking about rebuilding what was there before only stronger). There is an important opportunity here for Chch to build itself in preparation for peak oil and climate change, and lead the way for the rest of NZ. Stop thinking highrise, centralised CBD. Think low level, decentralised, localised. For instance, if you have a series of interconnected and networked communities that have their own power generation, then in a disaster you don’t lose power to a whole city, particularly if you include low tech solutions like passive solar and solar hot water. There is a huge amount of knowledge and experience now with those kinds of technologies, but they work best if we change how we think about the problem in the first place. Main point: we need a paradigm shift in thinking about city design, and because of peak oil/climate change etc we need this whether there are more earthquakes or not.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      You got it. This is an opportunity to make Christchurch one of the most well designed, resilient cities in the world. Ready for peak oil, ready for maximum community interaction, commons for all ti share and enjoy and of course resilience to future shocks – oil or earthquake.

      As for buildings, I wonder if buildings can be designed in a way so that if they fail in an earthquake the failure is more highly survivable by the occupants.

      • weka 5.1.1

        I’m wanting to know the ratio of deaths to height of building. Is the reason we’ve needed highrises because of centralisation?

        Who are the movers and shakers (sorry about the pun) in Canterbury and NZ who are already on board with peak everything and who are in positions to influence policy making and the media? (I’m largely out of that loop now).

        • ianmac

          There is a team of volunteer architects for Christchurch post September and I think Ian Athfield spoke on radio this morning saying “its back to the drawing-board.”
          Looks good Weka: “Think low level, decentralised, localised. For instance, if you have a series of interconnected and networked communities that have their own power generation, then in a disaster you don’t lose power to a whole city, particularly if you include low tech solutions like passive solar and solar hot water. ”
          Like suburbs with purpose rather than by evolution which is always the way settlements have happened.

          • Colonial Viper

            Also the city water reticulation system – a compartmentalised design where damaged areas can get sealed off independently of each other to maintain pressure to other areas. Valves which turn off automatically at a certain maximum flow rate (which would indicate a completely burst pipe). And each neighbourhood area is supplied pressure by more than major pipe for redundancy.

            Mind you they might already do this, I have no idea. Of course it sounds bloody expensive.

            • RedLogix

              ChCh already has an unusually diversified water supply system, consisting of a large number of wells spread over the whole city, generally supplying a local zone. Completely different to Wellington or Auckland where the ‘maximum flow cut-off ‘ technique you mention is used to protect the outflow of most larger reservoirs. (They are in fact usually called ‘earthquake valves’.)

              The big problem as I understand it is that until they can get electrcity supplied to the wellhead controls they cannot pump, no pumping means no water and no ability to find the leaks. Probably there are some areas where the entire distribution system is trashed and will need full replacement.

              The other problem is that some of the aquifers themselves will have been damaged geologically. This had already knocked out around 20% of capacity after the Sept event… and I cannot see this event making this figure any better at all.

              • lprent

                Same problem with their sewerage from what I understand. It is a mostly pumped system.

                • Colonial Viper

                  This is the problem with highly interlocking systems. Take out one component (power) and everything else falls over.

                  Now who in their right mind would want to sell off our power generation facilities after this.

          • prism

            “Looks good Weka: “Think low level, decentralised, localised.”

            Doesn’t a city need a heart rather than clusters of villages around something that isn’t a heart, perhaps a light industrial zone? Christchurch
            deserves better than that.

            • weka

              There’s no reason why you can’t have a heart to Chch. Just don’t make it highrises and your most important economic infrastructure. Rethink what a heart means in a city. Is it the CBD? (we have to move past the idea that economics is the centre of our cultures if we want to manage peak oil). I haven’t lived in Chch for some time, but I’d say the important things, heartwise, to rebuild within the 4 Aves is the cathedral and the arts centre, and build out from that – give the heart to the creative communities, build lots of parks and gardens (including parks that produce food). Support that with accomodation and eateries, built to good eq resistant standards, but give up the idea of concentrating thousands of people and resources in a small space (esp vertically). Then each community can have its own heart as well as its own business and industrial centres etc. It’s not that long since NZ was organised like this.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Stop thinking highrise, centralised CBD. Think low level, decentralised, localised.

      I think that may be an oxymoron. Cities have a lot of people in them and so need a lot of transport. Going low level and spread out increases the amount of transport and other needed infrastructure while going high-rise decreases those needs. Considering that Peak Oil is essentially resource constraint then using less resources in important and so, in a Peak Oil world, you want to go high-rise and compact.

      • weka 5.2.1

        “Going low level and spread out increases the amount of transport and other needed infrastructure”

        Why? If most of the things that you need are within walking and biking distance, what’s the need for increasing infrastructure and transport? The better scenario in peak oil is to design communities to be localised as much as possible so you don’t need massive, extensive transport systems, and infrastructure is held within each locale. If you use alternative and low technologies, costs decrease and efficiencies increase. eg every new house built now in Chch could be designed for passive solar gain, and had to have solar hot water. So the power generated and used is contained within that location, instead of the hugely wasteful power generation from say the big rive dams (can’t rememeber the figures, but there is a signficiant percentage of loss of electricity simply by transporting mass distances).

        Permaculture design has a lot to teach about this. It’s a design science that focusses on creating systems that are self contained and minimse waste. The more you can generate your own food, power, economy etc from within your locale, the more resilient you are during and after peak oil. And the efficiencies increase markedly, including economic.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Why? If most of the things that you need are within walking and biking distance, what’s the need for increasing infrastructure and transport?

          The natural effect of disbursing over a greater geographic area is to increase the need for transport and other infrastructure. Cities didn’t come along with the use of oil – they came along as close communities are more efficient. Once you get communities measured in the 10s of thousands then you start building upwards as it uses less resources.

          The better scenario in peak oil is to design communities to be localised as much as possible so you don’t need massive, extensive transport systems, and infrastructure is held within each locale.


          Localised = build upwards. Building outwards, as you say to do, will increase the needed infrastructure and resource use. Every building will require connections (sewers, water, telecomms, power, road etc) to services. Now, say it takes an average of 100m to connect every building that means for a hundred houses requires 10km of connections. 10 buildings of 10 stories each provides the same housing capability but only uses 1km of connections – and I’m just talking connections here, I haven’t even mentioned the extra resource use all that extra transport will need.

          Modern cities are badly designed – they should never have been built around single level dwellings as it uses a huge amount of resources both to build and to maintain them. In the future (starting now) we need to decrease the are that cities cover and build upwards.

          • weka

            “The natural effect of disbursing over a greater geographic area is to increase the need for transport and other infrastructure.”

            Draco, that’s old paradigm thinking. You’re assuming that we can keep on having all the resources and facilities that we have now at the level we have now – we can’t once the cheap oil runs out.

            If you have infrastructure localised around a community why the great need for transport and expanding infrastructure? Think of Chch as a series of towns. If you live in Brighton, you work there, shop there, food is grown there, you socialise there etc etc, why do you need expensive and expansive transport networks? Most people can walk or bike those distances, and those that can’t can have access to transport.

            “Once you get communities measured in the 10s of thousands then you start building upwards as it uses less resources.”

            But *only* because you have cheap oil. Once the cheap oil is gone, then the ability to build up decreases. I know lots of people that can build houses with basic power tools. You can’t build highrises that way (actually you can to an extent, because cultures have done that pre-industrial revolution, but they’re not suitable for an eq zone) and are heavily dependent on oil based industry.

            “Localised = build upwards”

            have a think about what your ideas are based on. Because they’re not taking into account design systems that decrease energy use at the same time as increasing efficiency. Your examples of infrastrucure costs are based on oil wealth. Once you have to start thinking about how to do those things without cheap oil, other solutions become apparent.

            eg Power: reduce consumption (no more heated towel rails sorry), use passive solar heating/lighting and cooling, use solar hot water (and get used to the fact that oil gives hot water on demand but this is not going to be possible forever), build smaller houses that need less energy to heat etc. Once you do all those things you find that a community can generate its own power in many cases.

            In terms of space, the immediate solutions I see are:

            – reduce population growth,

            – and size (many people will leave Chch naturally now, take advantage of that and then rethink how to manage subsequent increases);

            – build smaller houses – don’t know what is happening in Chch, but in many parts of NZ the square metreage of housing is grossly oversized for what humans need;

            – have more people living in existing houses – I’m not talking over-crowding, I’m talking about the large number of houses with extra space in them;

            – have people work from home (if you work away from home then you need twice the shelter space than if you work at home).

            David Holmgren did some important work on retrofitting the suburbs (in NZ and OZ). He calls current suburbs ‘dormitory suburbs’ because many people sleep in them, but live the rest of their lives (work and recreation) elsewhere. He details how to bring work, recreation and life back to where we live, relocalising economies, infrastructures, and communities.

            Not sure what the link policy here is, so will drop some links in a couple of posts.
            on this too.


            anti-spam: SLOW

            • weka

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cjhQWdbqE4 (start at 7.20 mins) – Holmgren’s presenation on retrofitting the suburbs for powerdown/peak oil.


              The Transition Town people have done lots of good work on this too, looking at how to recreate communities, towns, cities in the context of peak oil.

            • Draco T Bastard

              You’re assuming that we can keep on having all the resources and facilities that we have now at the level we have now – we can’t once the cheap oil runs out.

              No I’m not. I’m wondering where we’d put all the houses if we spread them out even more than we have now and how much more resources that it’s going to cost to do so. I’ll also let you in on another secret – NZ won’t run out of power so, yes, we will be able to keep a lot of what we have now. What we won’t be able to keep is the present transport system – individual transportation is going to go the way of the dodo – and population will have to be restricted so that everyone can have a good living standard.

              But *only* because you have cheap oil.

              No, not only because of cheap oil – also because it happens to be more efficient. High-rise buildings were being built before we used oil and the reason why they weren’t built even higher than they were was because we didn’t have the knowledge to do so. Now we do and so we can continue build them. Oil helped but it’s not a pre-requisite.

              Once you do all those things you find that a community can generate its own power in many cases.

              For basic living – sure, a big enough house can produce enough electricity to power itself but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. One person living alone doesn’t need or want a three bedroom house which is about the size needed to be able to produce enough power. Industry will still need to be connected to the grid and won’t be done at home. All houses will still need to be connected to the grid and the grid will have to be national so that if one place isn’t generating enough for itself it can be fed from somewhere else that’s generating excess.

              He calls current suburbs ‘dormitory suburbs’ because many people sleep in them, but live the rest of their lives (work and recreation) elsewhere.

              I realised that a long time ago – didn’t need anyone to tell me. How many people can work from home though?

              reduce population growth,

              We’re already over populated so we need to actually stop population growth.

              build smaller houses – don’t know what is happening in Chch, but in many parts of NZ the square metreage of housing is grossly oversized for what humans need;

              Agreed – another reason to build high-rise. You can put both small and large dwellings in the same space.

              have people work from home (if you work away from home then you need twice the shelter space than if you work at home).

              I’ve been an advocate for working from home for some time. We, quite simply, shouldn’t need office buildings but working from home comes down to connecting them all up again and lots of single level dwellings will cost more in real resources than high-rise buildings for the same number of dwellings. It also comes down to being suitable to work from home – not every job is.

              There’s no one solution. We’ll end up with a combination of the suggestions. It’s more a case of how much of each and, IMO, it’s probably better to have most housing as high-rise dwellings.

              • Rosy

                I’m stuck 😉 in one of the grand old cities of Europe for 2 years. It works pretty well. The city is divided into a number of districts each with it’s own town hall functions, shopping area, market squares etc. There are plenty of cars but not the massive traffic chaos in Akl or even wgtn also if you don’t have one (we don’t) most stuff you need is in walking distance, there are trams and an underground. Residential and city centre (yes it does have a heart and is almost entirely pedestrianised) are 4-5 stories usually with an internal courtyard of some descriptions. Food shopping etc is local – so no need for cars to go to enormous centralised supermarkets. The only downside is the local may not have the variety of foodstuffs you would expect in an NZ supermarket. High rise commercial is away from the traditional city centre, with great public transport links.

                I’ve read somewhere – I can’t remember where – that there was a debate about how 4-5 stories may have higher populatione densities than high-rise apartment blocks, given the footprint and open space requirements of the high-rises. I’m not sure if that is true, or not, but for lifestyle the place we’re living is pretty good and worth a look at in terms of ideas for liveable, compact cities.

                • prism

                  You’re thinking very clearly at 3 am Rosy! We definitely need to look to more closely settled places like Europe for examples. The NZ colonial self-sufficiency patch continued to the quarter-acre suburban sprawl, smaller now, but the houses now advertised are similar to the ones being built in the 1960’s. And the houses are getting bigger. There seems little leadership to change mainstream NZ housing trends to fit present and future needs.

                  But the other extreme is the very high rises, up to 15 stories, and the green space required around them. Also the social consequences eg the difficulties of reaching the top (equivalent to climbing a large hill) if the lift doesn’t work. I have lived one floor up with stairs, quite good for us though the next storey more difficult. I don’t think we had a lift which is definitely needed when there are three floors or more (counting ground floor). I am a fan of duplexes, two separate apartments on the same block, one over the other. Very efficient use and with proper planning and design, neither detracts from the other.

                  I have heard about other problems of very high rises. The regular unpleasantness if the lift is rarely cleaned and ends up smelling of well-matured urine, or if it is controlled by hoons, thugs, or just used by people with aggressive and anti-social tendencies who must be endured each time the lift is used to gain access to the world. Then there is a tendency to utilise gravity in shifting heavy goods, faster to toss them over a balcony than haul them all the way down in the accepted manner. That can be frightening for those nearby, and of course fatal if passing by at the wrong time. No-one knows where they came from so they can stay smashed where they lay without the perps paying for disposal fees.

                  • Rosy

                    “I don’t think we had a lift which is definitely needed when there are three floors or more”
                    We live on the 5th floor and yes, if the lift is broken it’s a bit of a hike. Almost all apartment blocks here have lifts. I worked in Southampton for a while also and there was a lot of regeneration flowing into the city. One of the problems they did not expect when doing needs assessment in social housing was young mums wanting to move out of their 4-storey flats to highrise – known to be the worst possible situation for them. The problem was simple – no lifts and they had pushchairs, groceries, kids and toys to lug up 4 flights of stairs. Simple solution – lifts.

                    It’s the simple things – apparently the first terrace-style state housing in NZ was copied directly from the UK, without noting that we had larger sections and in the 2 central flats lawnmowers and gardening tools had to be dragged through the house to mow front and back lawns. No-one wanted to live in them so this helped this style of housing become the sink estates of state housing. Hopefully this is no longer the situation, I know there has been a lot of work on these blocks. We need to look elsewhere to see what works and then adapt for our lifestyles.

                    • prism

                      Rosy – “Simple solution – lifts” and perhaps limited numbers to each main door and lift with gated access using those number code panels. Also a speaker phone to apartments. That would allow control of the concourse areas and keep the ratbags out.

                      That reference to middle houses having no access to their back yard except through the house is remenicent of the old Brit mass housing with numerous two-storey units side by side. No doubt in our ‘individualistic, pragmatic’ fashion we slavishly copied Britain’s ideas in some areas. We pride ourselves on a No.8 wire cleverness but the thrill is the occasional times we are clever, the exception that proves the rule.

                      I believe in Britain that these blocks with common walls had privies provided not individually, but for the group, and these could only be accessed from the back alley. When the middle ones wanted to use the services, they had to walk to the corner, along the side, and up the service alley. This may be incorrect, but it is possible. Gettting away from the pervading poverty of the British Empire to a land with hope, jobs with decent wages, better housing and privies was what brought many folk from Brit to NZ. May we hold onto that scenario.

  6. todd 6

    Christchurch: Rebuild or relocate?


    What do you do when there are huge sinkholes swallowing up cars and trucks, silt washing all over the place, buildings falling on top of you and the ground beneath you continues to shake? Shifting Christchurch is a consideration many people will not like to make, but in the aftermath of Christchurch’s largest aftershock earthquake event ever, some hard decisions need to be made.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      If the city had been completely levelled by a 8M+ quake in the same spot, then yeah, significantly relocating CHCH would be an option. But there is still significant infrastructure intact, and with new buildings being more earthquake proof, the level of destruction doesn’t really warrant relocating the city at the moment.

      • William Joyce 6.1.1

        Yes, this is not a green field development. So many people have money, businesses etc invested in buildings that have survived.
        We too would rebuild on the slopes of Mt Etna.

        • RedLogix

          Actually a lot of the buildings that are still standing will have been fatally damaged. They were designed to be resilient and save the lives of their occupants.. but many of the the components that absorbed the quake energy will have by now cumulatively exceeded their original design life over this series since September.

          Unfortunately in many cases it will not be economic to restore many buildings to full code compliance.

        • Deborah Kean

          “We too would rebuild on the slopes of Mt Etna.”
          I have a couple of friends who come from villages that are literally right below the slopes of Mt Etna!
          One of them explained to me years back, why it’s more logical and safer to re-build right under a volcano that has previously erupted.
          I am not sure if he was right, but I know he thought he was, which is why people have..

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      But here’s another consideration: imagine you are the owner of a group of multimillion dollar buildings downtown.

      Most of them have to be pulled down.

      You get insurance $ for each one, cash in the hand.

      The business decision: in this depressed property market, with many of your tenant’s businesses gone or going, their staff gone or going, with a high degree of uncertainty in Christchurch property prices going forwards, do you as that property owner take all those millions in insurance money and rebuild, or do you take all that money and run.

      This is going to be a major problem for Christchurch.

      The invisible hand of the marketplace is not going to sort this one out in a good way fellas.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1

        Considering the greed that our society is based upon I suspect that for a lot of them it will be take the money and run.

        • weka

          Maybe it’s time we stopped placing the security of our communities in the hands of big businesses that have no real, personal investment in the place beyond the money.

  7. Peter 7

    Shock Doctrine – Paul Krugman New York Times

    Worth a look given the current circumstances


  8. tea 8

    I see there is never an opportunity to spin lost.

    Fran O’shillivan and NACT to Len Brown: STFU about trains in Auckland, we need to rebuild Christchurch. Auckland isn’t our primate (sorry the 4th form geography term eludes me) city. It’s a drain on the nations finances.

    Divide and rule Auckland/Christchurch. Labour did it after the last one too. Cosgrove the culprit.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      The end of the Holiday Highway then? Unlikely.

      More pressure to sell off our assets? Very likely.

      Len Brown’s comeback: Auckland needs to prepare for the next big one. We have seen how fragile our cities can be. A major earthquake in AKL would be devastating and the city needs to build up its resilience and its systems NOW, not in 5 years or in 10 years time – that may be too late.

      • ianmac 8.1.1

        Crikey Colonial. Do you think that the cry will become, “Christchurch has been flattened. Christchurch will need billions. Therefore we must sell the Assets to fund Christchurch. And anyone who does not support selling assets must be uncaring.” Surely not.

        • Kevin Welsh

          Well, if the cry goes out to sell assets to save Christchurch, then the original reason for selling was clearly a lie.

          • jimmy

            Frans just proves hereself as an opportunist hack, all of a sudden interest free student loans and WFF become the reason why we cant afford to rebuild chch.

            Way to go young padawan learners and people who breed, your the source of all of our problems.*


            • Tigger

              This is a depressing point, but so true. They won’t scrap projects like the Holiday Highway over asset sales but clearly the former should happen. Relook at all infrastructure projects – delay any that can, on the balance, be delayed. We’re talking the decimation of a major city here. Saving Aucklanders 20 minutes on their holiday driving is utterly luxury compared to what the Christchurchians now need.

  9. William Joyce 9

    My worry about the “movers and shakers” who will be appointed to rebuild is that we can have the best future-proofed, iconic, earth & people friendly plans for a world heritage Christchurch but these are likely to fall foul of the grandstanding of politicians, power groups and special interests like the corporates. There will be short cuts, power plays, hissy fits, compromises, back handers, bully-boy tactics and we will end up with a lost opportunity.

    Jørn Utzon left Australia and his opera house never to return
    Walter Burley Griffin did not get to finish Canberra.
    Robert Lawson was exiled from New Zealand by the power poltics.
    Robbie never got his rapid rail.

    Appointing Brownlee does not bode well for a smart future. Perhaps he is more suited to employing his wood work teacher skills on some of Paula’s work schemes or growing pumpkins.

    • weka 9.1

      Probably. But true resilience comes from within communities, not some power mongerer in Welly. We can’t do much about Brownlee and his ilk in the short term. But we can support the true visionaries and the people the ground who are the ones that will make real change. I’m just not sure who they are in Chch now.

  10. bobo 10

    Blatant opportunism from fran, she wants working for families cut, student loans no interest cut, auckland to sell its assetts, but makes no mention of reversing the tax switch….

  11. vto 11

    We made it!! Don’t get rid of this rwnj so easily ha ha..

    All of us were as close to the epicentre as anyone. Running from boulders, seeing buildings collapse, the whole lot. 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.

    You have to bet your money that there will be more. People are on the run.

  12. Colonial Viper 12

    Professional Astroturfing of Internet Forums – Beware

    This is a worrying development and one being used to dumb down and derail otherwise productive debate on the internet.

    After I wrote about online astroturfing in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them.

    Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments. I’ll reveal more about what he told me when I’ve finished the investigation I’m working on.

    It now seems that these operations are more widespread, more sophisticated and more automated than most of us had guessed. Emails obtained by political hackers from a US cyber-security firm called HBGary Federal suggest that a remarkable technological armoury is being deployed to drown out the voices of real people.

    As the Daily Kos has reported, the emails show that:

    • Companies now use “persona management software”, which multiplies the efforts of each astroturfer, creating the impression that there’s major support for what a corporation or government is trying to do.

    • This software creates all the online furniture a real person would possess: a name, email accounts, web pages and social media. In other words, it automatically generates what look like authentic profiles, making it hard to tell the difference between a virtual robot and a real commentator.

    • Fake accounts can be kept updated by automatically reposting or linking to content generated elsewhere, reinforcing the impression that the account holders are real and active.

    • Human astroturfers can then be assigned these “pre-aged” accounts to create a back story, suggesting that they’ve been busy linking and retweeting for months. No one would suspect that they came onto the scene for the first time a moment ago, for the sole purpose of attacking an article on climate science or arguing against new controls on salt in junk food.

    • ianmac 12.2

      It sort of makes sense. There is something about the responses of some which has made me wonder about their origins on numerous blogs that I visit. This seemed to be very noticeable especially around the 2008 Election and it would be likely that 2011 Election will be very active.
      So how would you tell and what to do about the weevils in the woodwork? Especially with an election coming up.

      Wonder if the flooding of online polls have the same origins?

    • Draco T Bastard 12.3

      There’s only one solution for this – removal of the ability to have multiple identities on the internet.

    • chris73 12.4

      I could get paid for this?!?!?! Awesome, where do I sign up?

  13. Treetop 13

    The art deco rebuild in Napier is a good example of a rebuild after an earthquake. The most important structure for Christchurch will be a memorial to those who perished in the earthquake and to those who endured the many hardships which resulted due to the earthquakes.

    The future is somewhat uncertain for many in Christchurch. Tough decisions will need to be made as well. Oppertunities have arisen for some out of being displaced. I predict that Timaru and Dunedin will grow in size.

  14. What will be interesting is how prompt the insurance companies will deal with claims. I have no doubt that big business will have no trouble but what about the ordinary working people.? Will they be put under pressure over details and anything else that will delay, or worse ,cancel payout.
    I have not a lot of faith in insurance companies ;a necessary evil.
    Im hoping its not going to turn out to be a reason why we should not privatize ACC. Keep,watching you good concerned people out there .

  15. This Wisconsin business isn’t going away, and it’s not going that well for the GOP. The polls have them on the wrong side of it and it’s got all sorts of people talking about labour, class and the social contract in ways that is unusual these days everywhere, and in the US in particular.

    A coupla data points:


    “Firefighters and police officers around the state, we’ve all said, in order to help with the budget, that we don’t mind taking concessions as well,” said Mahlon Mitchell, state president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Inc. “If you want to capture more money, you can do that by putting us with those others. And get rid of all the collective bargaining stuff that has nothing to do with the budget.”


    The fact of that matter is that Wisconsin’s law enforcement community opposes Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate most union activity in this state, and we implore him to not do anything to increase the risk to officers and the public. The costs of providing security can never outweigh those associated with a conflict.”

    Palmer also announced that, beginning tonight, the WPPA is formally requesting its members from across the state to come to the Capitol to sleep amongst the throngs of other union supporters.

    “Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong,” continued Palmer. “That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight.”

    A video doing the rounds:

    This balloon-juice post is basically a bit of front page blog-whoring, but it marks an easy entry point to a very interesting roundtable discussion going on at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. The discussion itself is good, and E.D. Kain (who kicked it off with a guest post from lefty libertarian Kevin Carson) is a recent convert towards a more left wing approach to things.

    It’s interesting shit.

    Also, that ‘Uncut’ protest movement in the UK has spread to the US with 2moro their first day of protest. I’m picking it’ll be very small, but they have got a lot of people saying they have something planned, so who knows? From little acorns.


    It almost looks like some narratives are being challenged.

  16. todd 16

    Stop Bashing Beneficiaries


    There’s nothing like a good beneficiary bash to get the banjo’s a picking though. You can just about bet on there being a few examples leaked to the media by WINZ each month, so that the bigots can really get their hate on. Being that poor people are just so evil and all. It’s sort of like throwing a lamb to the slaughter, to keep em mean and get them hungry for more.

  17. todd 17

    Asshole of the Week Award: Fran O’Sullivan


    Way to go Fran, a good dose of divisiveness is exactly what the country needs right now. That there ladies and gentlemen is why Fran O’Sullivan wins the asshole of the week award.

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