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Red zone ride

Written By: - Date published: 5:50 pm, September 17th, 2012 - 34 comments
Categories: disaster, Gerry Brownlee - Tags: ,

Went for a ride through the Red Zone yesterday, and I am feeling it today.

Not so much in the legs, as it wasn’t a particularly long ride. More in the heart.

14 years ago we were looking for a house after moving back to CHCH , and Avonside was where we wanted to buy. We spent a lot of time looking in the area, before settling on one “one suburb over” in Richmond.

I felt connected to this part of town. But not any more. After yesterday I realise that there is nothing left to connect to.

To many people reading this, that statement won’t really be real. Even sympathetic readers might take the position , “Well, yes of course, this has been a major event – people have been displaced and their lives disrupted”.

It is so much more than that. Almost all of the terrain that I covered yesterday was broken ground, filled with broken stuff – that will never be fixed. And it is that last statement that “gets me”.

Some people have hung on, but they will all be gone by April next year. I saw one family packing up. No moving company involved, just an old Holden and a trailer. Something must have been keeping them there for them to hold on this long. None of the houses around them looked to be maintained.

I could keep on writing on this theme, or should that be “I could keep on carping and moaning” (don’t do Facebook), but I want to change tack.

Two bloody years, this has been going on – and people are still, largely left to cope with this on their own. Where is the leadership we were promised. Or alternatively, what efforts have been made to empower people to solve their own problems?

Either option could work, but instead information is withheld, or arrives at a glacial pace. Every month seems to bring another layer of bureaucracy to navigate through.

And our so called leader has just shown himself, again in case you missed it the last time, to be an incompetent, gutless, bully. Gerry, if the job is too hard for you, stand down and let someone else have a crack.

Most of the people caught up in this disaster paid their insurance and taxes in good faith. What some of us are slowly waking up to is that the whole process of redzoning, government buy outs, “negotiations” with insurers and the wall of vacuous silence from the likes of the EQC have all served to slowly, step by step, get us to accept that commitments that were made to us via things like “full replacement policies” are never going to be met. The contract with the community has been broken. Like the land, the houses, the roads and a good few of the people.

We should do better. And yes, Gerry, I am looking at you.

— Andy-Roo

34 comments on “Red zone ride”

  1. prism 1

    I noticed the unmaintained look of many houses in the still current residential zones. The flat land at the south-east still occupied has water lying in pools -the house I visited had narrow open drains to try and collect it and get it to flow, or maybe they pump it, to the public stormwater drain that seemed itself to be fairly full.

    But to get anything done people would have to mass and create some noise. I didn’t like the satisfied, accepting sound of some commenters when they praised residents resilience. Such as
    “23 Dec 2011 – One year on from the earthquake that claimed 185 lives in Christchurch, … Social worker Wilfrid McKerras says residents are fairly resilient and stoically get on ….” As some have found you have to moan to even get noticed. And then Brownlee gives you heaps. Right from the beginning he was more interested in the CBD. Which he wanted to clear fell, very dismissive of old buildings and history. He sees himself as top dog of Christchurch all right. What do you think – will he get a knighthood when it’s more advanced?

    Just to refresh here are a few links.
    Here is Hugh Pavletich who I think is a housing speculator in the early days.http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1110/S00308/christchurch-earthquakes-the-political-circus.htm

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/5142774/Christchurch-Should-we-stay-or-should-we-go

    • Andy-Roo 1.1

      The concept of Sir Gerry turns my stomach.

      But then again I am not much of a fan of “Sir” Anybody.

      Right now one of the perceptions we need to fight against is the perception that is very very prevalent in some quarters that red zoners have been generously and fairly treated.

      This is what allows people to stick the “carping and moaning” label on them – which undermines anything and everything that they (or anyone who supports them) have to say.

      People have not been well treated. That message needs to stop.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Throw away NZers. All but forgotten, left to struggle one by one, family by family, quiet invisible crises in each house. Where are the country’s leaders?

  3. Carol 3

    What’s happened to parts of Christchurch is sad, and so much is wrong in the way the government’s handled it.

    I lived there a couple of years in my younger days, and have fond memories of it the way it was.

    The government is being autocratic, and pandering to the moneyed interests. It really would be better to have a more consultative and inclusive approach.

  4. Wayne 4

    However, if it is Redzone it is intended the the owners will to leave. That is why the offers by the government have been made, either the 2007 valuation, or the insurance and the EQC payment (I think I am correct on the second option). Lots of people have accepted and are getting on with their lives, having purchased new properties elswhere (often in places like Rolleston).

    It is not really accurate to say there has been no assistance. There has been a lot, and the most important were the offers, generally recognised to be be at the top of the market. However, I appreciate there has been some hard cases. If someone had an especially smaller older property, it will be hard to buy something comparable elsewhere in the city for the same price.

    I would hope that as summer comes on there will be a sense of real progress on the ground in the Eastern suburbs. When you are living in a damaged home as do my elderly Aunt and Uncle it is a long and frustrating time to wait to get repairs done.

    I think CERA and the City will need to soon set out what they intend to do in the Redzone. As with the central city once a property is condemned and vacant it is best to demolish and to set out the vision for the Redzone, that can be seen as revtalising the East. Presumbably parks, recreation spaces and wild life refuges. It could be done really well, with the new sort of concept as envisaged for the CBD.

    • fatty 4.1

      “Presumbably parks, recreation spaces and wild life refuges. It could be done really well, with the new sort of concept as envisaged for the CBD.”

      Yes, there needs to be a plan for the East, but can we get some competent people onto it?
      The CBD plan is a sham. Absolute bollocks. Those responsible for it should hang their heads in shame. Those money-grabbing arseholes need to leave Christchurch alone, they are just causing more damage.
      What’s there to like about it?

    • No, the second option is that you get the private insurance valuation for your building and the crown purchases your land from you for the most recent valuation, buying out your EQC claim. (This gives you an out if your building valuation was unusually low. I assume the Crown will simply ask EQC to write off claims assigned to them) Neither option involves EQC directly and is pretty much just in the hands of CERA.

      I agree with you that some sort of plan for the red zone land, and action to demolish properties already brought out, is long due.

    • Andy-Roo 4.3

      Hi Wayne,

      Yes, lots of people have accepted the government offers. And from the outside looking in, these offers might have looked like they were generous, or “top of the market”.

      The question I am asking though is “which market, and for whom?”.

      The market is not your freind in Christchurch right now. Most of the people shifting out to places like Rolleston will be taking substantial losses in terms of “like for like” that they would not have expected to take as they shelled out for their total replacement insurance policies.

      Even had the market not moved, post quake – prices in the East did not generally match those in the West. And the market has moved, a lot.

      Looked at from the point of view of who’s needs have been served, the buy out has worked well enough for the government, and for insurance companies – given the magnitude of the liability they were facing – but it has not stopped large numbers of people getting shafted.

      We as a society have been prepared to let that happen.

      Hence my question – “Which market, and for whom”.

  5. Murray Olsen 5

    Why isn’t there a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Christchurch rather than in Afghanistan propping up some smack dealing dictator?

  6. Rich 6

    Why are NZ’s construction crews in Wellington working day and night building an highway tunnel by the war memorial, rushed through under urgency because nobody could foresee that it would be the hundredth anniversary of Gallipoli soon? (you’d have thought that before slaughtering the flower of a nation’s youth in a pointless cause, the authorities would have put in train plans for a memorial?)

    They could be in Christchurch fixing the place up.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Christchurch? Hardly any pollies spend time in Christchurch. Wellington is the place to be, and is where all the spend is needed.

    • prism 6.2

      Rich 6 These authorities don’t like any plan that has ‘train’ in it.

  7. RedLogix 7

    What did anyone expect? … It was a Labour electorate after all.

  8. MrSmith 8

    I have to admit things at EQC are really starting to improve after two years. I just receive today, a reply to an email I sent in July, yes this year, but unfortunately they said they couldn’t help me! stupid me for asking them for help, shame on me, I will now write them back over the next 8 weeks, then as I have nothing better to do I will sit around and wait for a reply.

  9. Dr Livingstone 9

    Christchurch Democracy was stolen by this National Government with ECAN Sacking on Flimsy word of Mayor Bob Parker & Now Quakes have given Central Government Tsar Gerrys unbridled power with The Christchurch City Council and Government observerKerry Marshall aided and abetted by Sideshow Bob & Tony Marryatt and the dictatorial CBD BLUEPRINT which has replaced “SHARE AN IDEA in which all of us once upon a time in fairyland had a Say. Rent-A Key who only comes here for photo ops and his starring role in the Six Part $5 Million NZ. ON AIR Film” After The Earthquakes.” and then there,s Cera, EQC, and Insurance Companies.We know REDZONE People $100,000 out of pocket with Govt. offer ..OUR CITY Has been stolen from us The People have been sidelined in all of this and we have all discovered we don,t actually have absolute rights to our land Businesses and homes.But wait there is more…We now have the School Closures and more decimation of our communities by a heartless Hekia Parata and John Key whose National Secret Agenda is for Charter Private Business Schools for profit.Everything is For Sale.!People don,t count..

    • mike e 9.1

      Nationals plan for CHCH a Circus of Lackeys to replace democratic institutions.
      The Circus will distract the poor people of CHCH while the cronies take the money and run!

    • Andy-Roo 9.2

      Hard to argue with any of this.

      And I am not inclined to try.

      The ECAN affair was a debacle from start to finish.

    • prism 9.3

      Paragraphs? Somewhere to take a breath?

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    It seems to me that the only way Key & Co are able to do what they are doing is that there are large numbers of influential people in Christchurch who are fine with what is happening, or who are actively backing it.

    • fatty 10.1

      That’s true, there are too many people in Chch without a political voice, or who believe they have no political voice.
      The response to the CBD plan was disturbing. For all the good work John Campbell has been doing for children lately, he let down the people of Chch. The powerpoint presentation / champagne party was presented by the media as a positive, but I am yet to see how? The protesters outside that event were largely ignored as the media and the public got a boner over some computer graphics.
      For some reason NZ celebrated a bunch of rich pricks taking over Chch….and the East of Chch continues to wait for something to happen. But there is not much chance of anything happening soon. I’m guessing another powerpoint presentation and a champagne party is the best we can hope for.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        Of course the ordinary people of Christchurch have a political voice. If they want to take it and make it heard.

        Frak the MSM. Non-violent and civil resistance techniques are well known and easily utilisable. Make it impossible for them to ignore you.

        That’s true, there are too many people in Chch without a political voice, or who believe they have no political voice.

        Your initial response seemed to miss my point a bit. I was saying that the top 10,000 well connected and wealthy people in Christchurch who make the key decisions seem fine with the way Key & Co are running the show.

        • fatty 10.1.1.1

          I don’t think I missed your point at all…I did point out that: “The response to the CBD plan was disturbing. For all the good work John Campbell has been doing for children lately, he let down the people of Chch. The powerpoint presentation / champagne party was presented by the media as a positive, but I am yet to see how? The protesters outside that event were largely ignored as the media and the public got a boner over some computer graphics.”

          “Of course the ordinary people of Christchurch have a political voice. If they want to take it and make it heard.”

          I’m not so sure about this, there are people trying to organise things from the grassroots, but it is so difficult. The Government’s response kills their voice so effectively, The Government responds with ‘this is a major disaster’, ‘we are doing all we can’, ‘everyone is suffering’ etc.
          Its not that the people of Chch aren’t trying, what more can be done to overcome this disaster capitalism? The media and the main opposition Party have done little to help.

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1

            Ah, OK.

            I’m not so sure about this, there are people trying to organise things from the grassroots, but it is so difficult. The Government’s response kills their voice so effectively,

            Hmmmmm. To be clear. I’m not talking letters to the editor, interviews on RNZ and cups of tea with people in City Council. Or waiting for the Opposition to have a moan in the House. If Christchurch has got to the stage of being as serious and as desperate as some people say it is, then this needs to move to non-violent non-co-operation/civil resistance/civil disobedience.

            • fatty 10.1.1.1.1.1

              “Hmmmmm. To be clear. I’m not talking letters to the editor, interviews on RNZ and cups of tea with people in City Council.”

              Neither was I…the media and the city council are not grassroots movements. Like most people in Christchurch, I have given up on hoping our city council or Government will help the marginalised. A grassroots approach has been, and still is far more effective, its all we have…some good examples are Student Volunteer Army, the Christchurch Youth Market, Gap Filler, Greening the Rubble, Rebuild Christchurch, the Avon Otakaro Network, and Whole House Reuse.

              “If Christchurch has got to the stage of being as serious and as desperate as some people say it is, then this needs to move to non-violent non-co-operation/civil resistance/civil disobedience.”

              What do you suggest the people in the East do? Remember that as soon as they get together and push a protest beyond the law, they will get arrested and then be told that they are not helping a ‘difficult situation’ blah blah blah. Brownlee will then pop up on the news and then say he understands our frustrations, but this is ‘not the way to go about things’. Paula Bennett will bash some beneficiaries, Shearer will strum his banjo…and the rest of NZ will feel sorry for us and shrug their shoulders.

    • Andy-Roo 10.2

      But is this not always the case? No matter where you are?

      I don’t think CHCH is anything special in terms of number of pigs willing to stick their snout into the public trough if they can get some one else to pay for it.

      It’s just that they have been handed a set of ready made earthquake sized excuses to hide their anti democratic agenda behind.

      Plus – most of us are still distracted by day to day stuff. Right now I am living in half my house, my commute to work is much more complicated than it used to be, I am arguing with my insurance company, the bloody builder still hasn’t been back to pick up his stuff or finish painting the backwall of the house, my parents roof starts leaking again after every significant aftershock…

      And when we do organise a protest we don’t really get much coverage because much of the country is sick and tired of hearing us whine when we have been so generously treated and are just a bunch of racist, iunsular, rednecks who probably deserved what they got anyway. To echo some of the stuff I have read (here and other places)

  11. JonL 11

    EQC!
    Since the disaster, they have been stacked with rejects from ACC and WINZ – self serving, incompetent, useless bullying toadies who are less interested in helping people and more interested in climbing, tooth and claw over each other in some sort of heirarchical frenzy.
    All the older members, who were actually interested in helping people have bailed!
    You’ll get no help out of EQC these days- just like the rest of this government!

  12. Dr Livingstone 12

    As long as John Key has a compliant media in this country who don,t ask the real questions anymore and cut to the chase we will be downtrodden& ignored..I am fed up with all the lies and the bullsh we are fed .People ,The community, Residents are not being listened to. New Zealanders need to sit up and take notice.Heartbreak despair and life lessons in Christchurch have us discovering we don,t actually have absolute rights to “OUR” Land and homes. It could come to your town or City.too.

  13. I do think there has been some help and I also think by and large SKIRT is doing a great job. I also acknowledge that the earthquake has been “huge” and that it was always going to take a long time to get some things done. But as you point out, Andy-roo, we are now two years in and that excuse is wearing very thin.

    I also think it is time we saw some prioritisation to ensure that those most in need, like those in the TC 3 featured last week, get priority, plus the elderly, those with disabilities, and families with little kids. As someone who, although TC 3, is only ‘moderately uncomfortable’ and can probably ‘box on’ as is for some time, I am very happy to be prioritised behind those more in need and would like to see it happening.

    I also seriously question whether Gerry Brownlee is the right person to lead Christchurch’s recovery. Last week’s remarks regarding TC3 residents were only the latest of several similar outbursts. While I appreciate that circumstances are very difficult and I wish to believe he is doing his best, his approach appears divisive and combative, when what Christchurch needs is leadership to inspire and pull people together, and to work together positively and constructively, demonstrating leadership by example on difficult issues–not attacking and abusing. In short, the Minister for Earthquake Recovery needs to be someone who is part of the solution for Christchurch, not creating additional and unnecessary difficulties. And the “solution” overall needs to be one that involves and empowers the community, not result in remarks like those from one acquaintance yesterday (whom I had rung on another matter):

    “EQC and insurance. ECan and water, schools, CERA & the central city: every day feels like an assault.”

    One would have thought that the earthquakes themselves were enough of an assault in that respect–and that if the government felt confident of their vision for the city and the region, then they would feel confident of their ability to bring people with them through the usual dem,ocratic and government processes. Instead have set up institutions, i.e. both CERA and the ECan commissioners, where everything is imposed unilaterally from above with little recourse though the justice system–which of course along with represtation is another of the integral planks of democracy. Planks now largely denied to Christchurch and Canterbury residents.

    Also denied, with respect to the central city rebuild in particular, is the principle deriving from natural justice, which is that those who pay the piper should call the tune. In this case, we are told that rebuilding central Christchurch will be entirely paid for by Christchurch ratepayers, but that we are going to have no say at all in the form of that rebuild, let alone in cutting our rebuild cloth to fit our financial cloth. And what we are getting is a gold-plated CBD rebuild plan, that is to be paid for by people who live in broken homes, or can’t live in their homes because they are too broken and so are paying both rent (often extortionate, although that does not appear to be of concern to the minister & CERA) and a mortgage, or are living in cars and tents and caravans because there isn’t enough housing to go round. The CBD proposal, I have to say, smacks to me very much as being someone’s “monument.” I do not feel this is appropriate, or again, what Christchurch needs right now. What we need is a CBD rebuild that won’t break the bank, or impoversih the city for years to come, and that feels like “our city”–not someone else’s monument where our only input is that it is paid for by our money.

    I would like to make one final point though. When it comes to the sweeping powers granted the Minister for Earthquake Recovery and CERA (as opposed to ECan), these were not solely put in place by the National-led government, but by parliament as a whole (with the exception of the Greens the second time around.) So I believe that parliament as a whole therefore needs to take responsibility for what is happening in Christchurch right now, as well as for scrutinising, reviewing, and as necessary amending the powers it has granted.

    • Andy-Roo 13.1

      +1 on this comment!

      How a party which supposedly champions individual liberties, (National in case you missed the connection!) has been so very ready to see democracy (you know, individual liberites…) set aside so swiftly and so comprehensively, beggars belief

  14. Dr Livingstone 14

    Unbridled Power has gone to their heads.I have watched Question Time and snap debate on Shock Schools Closures and ECAN Commissioners Extension Bill in Parliament today. One word sums up Hekia Parata, Gerry Brownlee and David Carter.Unbelievable arrogance about 12,000 Earthquakes and the stress levels of our Community.. And as for John Key & John Banks today They are an unbelievable Act of insulting New Zealanders intelligence.

  15. fatty 15

    Gap Filler Co-Founder and Life in Vacant Spaces Chief Evangelist, Ryan Reynolds at TEDx.

    • BernyD 15.1

      Great approach, you gotta remember th Government is the point of call, you still have to work with them.

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