Vanishing rebuilding rhetoric

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, March 21st, 2011 - 6 comments
Categories: disaster, john key, leadership - Tags: ,

We’ve had the memorial service. Now we need action. Now we need the plan. Or at the very least, the plan on how we get the plan. Christchurch needs rebuilding. How is it going to happen? Does the current government have the will?

I went looking for clues in John Key’s three big speeches to date. The first was on the day following the quake, 23 February. Like many, perhaps, in Christchurch, I took a break from clearing up the wreckage, and I sat down and listened to the PM speak on RNZ. Someone wrote him a damn good speech. The commitment to rebuilding was huge:

This devastating event marks the beginning of a long journey for your city. It will be a journey that leads us from ruins and despair to hope and new opportunities. From great hardship will come great strength. It will be a difficult journey, but progress is certain, things will get better, Christchurch will rise again.

On behalf of the Government, let me be clear that no one will be left to walk this journey alone. New Zealand will walk this journey with you. We will be there every step of the way. Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test. I promise we will meet this test.

In the weeks ahead our journey will take us to new obstacles, new challenges. We have a city to rebuild. We have peoples’ livelihoods to restore. We have a community’s confidence to inspire. We will rise to these challenges. We will rebuild this city resolutely, and with the conviction that this is what it is to be a Cantabrian, what it is to be a New Zealander.

Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though your city will never look the same again, you will rebuild your city, you will rebuild your lives, you will overcome. We have seen many cities in the world come back from disasters on this scale, and Christchurch will be no exception. I know that all New Zealanders stand ready to help.

As we look to the future, New Zealanders should know that the Government is going to do everything we can to support the recovery and rebuilding of Christchurch..

Very fine words indeed. “Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test”. Yes it is, nailed it, right there.

A fortnight later, 8th of March Key made a Ministerial Statement on the quake:

We are thinking of you. We are standing alongside you. And we are committed to rebuilding your lives and your city.

In the challenging times ahead, you have the full support of this Government, of this Parliament, and of all New Zealanders.

Rebuilding Christchurch is a key priority for the Government this year. We will provide the necessary resources to make this happen over the coming weeks, months and years. It will be a long and complex task, which we will need to work through step by step. But one thing is certain. Christchurch, we will rebuild you. You will once again be the successful, vibrant, and beautiful city that you were just over two weeks ago.

With the help of many people all over the country and the world, we will rebuild this great city. We owe it to the people we have lost to keep our minds on the brighter future that we are all striving for.

Rebuilding Christchurch has been downgraded from a test for the nation to “a key priority”. (How many other key priorities are there?) Still the commitment is fairly strongly stated, with “full support” pledged.

Then of course, at the memorial service on 18th March. The third speech:

Let us today re-commit ourselves to the resolve to rise again.

This city will be rebuilt. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here today. Thank you for caring. That makes you part of the story of rebuilding Christchurch.

Yep, as far as rebuilding goes, that’s it.

We don’t yet have action. We don’t yet have a plan, or even the start of a plan. All we have is words. All we have is a promise, which appears to be fading with each repetition. Christchurch must hold the PM to his word. To his first word, to his strong commitment: “Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test”…

6 comments on “Vanishing rebuilding rhetoric”

  1. Rob 1

    Perhaps that is why he said New Zealand’s test rather than “the National government’s test”

  2. handle 2

    You guys really need to get over throwing this “no plan” line at every government action. Doing that makes it difficult to mobilise opposition to schemes being hatched or to speak out when they are revealed. It is also achieving little resonance with voters so is not much help this year in particular.

    Of course there’s a plan – and it is one you should be intelligently opposing at least parts of. Don’t get sucked in by the bland delivery boy.

    • andy (the other one) 2.1

      Of course there’s a plan – and it is one you should be intelligently opposing at least parts of.

      ‘The plans have been available at your local planning office at Alpha Centouri for 50 of your Earth years’..

  3. vto 3

    One thing which seems to be well overlooked when it comes to rebuild, especially in the CBD, is the fact that pretty much all of the land is privately owned and the decisions about whether something will get rebuilt on each site and what that will be will to a significantly significant extent be a private decision.

    And that private decision will drive off economics and market demand for the vast majority. Essential to keep this in mind when it comes to formulating some new city and the like.

  4. Jim Nald 4

    Seen this?

    Dear National Government
    With regard to Christchurch, you have been rated Epic Fail.
    Stop entertaining and try governing.

    Is there a wake-up call that can be organised in city centres around the country? I know my Christchurch friends in town and I will turn up.
    And a petition?

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