Can we prevent a repeat?

15/08/2012

Alan Reay whose design firm Alan Reay Consultants designed the Canterbury Television building which collapsed in the Christchurch earthquake has accepted full responsibility for its failings.

Without in anyway minimising the tragic loss of life in that quake, the death toll was low considering how many people were in the city centre and most of those who died were in just two buildings.

Taking responsibility for building failings can not change what happened and its tragic consequences.

But learning from the mistakes and shortcomings not just in the design and construction but in inspections after the pre-February 22nd earthquakes could prevent them and the tragic consequences being repeated.


Drop, cover and hold

09/06/2012

People in Christchurch know the drop, cover and hold drill and it is important that the rest of us do too.

That’s the motivation behind the Great New Zealand Shakeout – the country’s largest ever earthquake drill which is being held at 9:26am on September 26 (9:26 on 26.9).

Why bother?

While earthquake hazard varies from region to region (see below), all of New Zealand is prone to earthquakes.  You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes – at home, at work, at school or on holiday. 

New Zealand ShakeOut has been created to help people and organisations get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to be protected when they happen.  Everyone will practice “Drop, Cover and Hold”—the right action to take in an earthquake.

New Zealand ShakeOut also provides a fantastic opportunity for organisations and businesses to examine and review their own emergency preparedness arrangements.  Families and households can create, review and practice their household plans.

Civil Defence Minister Chris Tremain says that more than 100,000 people have already registered to participate.

It’s easy to think it won’t happen here, but that’s what Canterbury people would have thought before the September 2010 earthquake. That and the thousands that have followed are proof it could happen anywhere and we all ought to know how to protect ourselves and those around us.

We’ve had all-too regular reminders that these are the shaky isles and we need to be prepared for the shaking wherever and whenever it happens.


Safest place on earth

01/04/2012

Sky today has compiled a list of the 10 safest places on earth if World War 3 breaks out.

The #1 spot is New Zealand about which they say:

New Zealand  might be the most isolated and expansive fully developed nation in the world. It shares no borders, sits relatively distant from any other nation, has no real national enemies, has a safe democracy and a diverse landscape with many remote places to hide away within. Furthermore, it ranked #1 on the Global Peace Index in 2009.

Numbers 2 – 9 are: Bhutan, Iceland, Tuvalu, Finland, Seychelles, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and Switzerland.

 

 


Kia Kaha Christchurch

22/02/2012

At 12:51 a year ago today, a violent earthquake shook Christchurch, Lyttleton and the hinterland.

It lasted just 24 seconds but in that time changed the city forever.

Among the victims on the day were 185 who were killed and many more who were injured.

The physical and financial costs of the quake, and the thousands of big and small ones which have followed, might be quantifiable.

The emotional impact on the people of Christchurch is not.

Today we will remember them all: the people who died; their family and friends who will still be mourning for them;  the people who were injured and those still supporting them; the people who were forced from their homes and businesses and those who have stayed.

Today is also an opportunity to honour the many organisations and individuals who have worked so hard to help the city and its people. Among them are Sam Johnson who was named Young New Zealander of the Year for his leadership of the Student Volunteer Army, and Federated Farmers’ John Hartnell who led the Farmy Army.

Today is an opportunity to look back in sadness but it’s also an opporutnity to look forward in hope.

Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Timetable of commemoration  services:

  • Christchurch

Where: North Hagley Park

When: 12pm-1:30pm

Christchurch residents welcome to attend the reading of names of the  185 who perished and two minute’s silence will be observed.

Where: North Hagley Park

When: 2pm-4pm

Christchurch Earthquake Awards will celebrate those who rose above the call of duty to assist others in the aftermath.

Where: Latimer Square

When: 8am-8.45am

Service focused towards those who lost loved ones as well as first  responders, the public is also welcome to attend.

Where: Avon River

When: 8am-8pm

An event called River of Flowers. The public is invited to  cast flowers into the river at particular sites. More information available here

Where: Christchurch Botanic Gardens

When: 10am-11.45am

Festival of Flowers where Golden Angel/Spirit sculpture will be  unveiled and ringing of Peace Bell by Japanese students who lost friends in the  CTV building.

Where: Wainoni/Avonside Community Services Trust

When: 12:45pm

Lighting of candles and two minutes’ silence along with other memorial  activites.

Where: Branston Intermediate

When: 4.30pm-7.30pm

The Crusaders will be manning the  free BBQ and there will be ice cream and games to entertain the  children.

Where: Sacred Heart Parish Church, Addington

When: 5pm-8pm

Mass by the Filipino community of  Christchurch.

Where: Queenspark Reserve

When: 5pm-7pm

A Memorial Reflection where northeast Christchurch residents can  reflect over the year at stations dotted around the park.

Where: Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

When: 7pm

Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood.  An installation of white chairs will represent earthquake victims.

Where: Holy Trinity Avonside

When: 7pm

Brief service and candle lighting will be followed by Ash Wednesday  service.

Where: Spreydon Baptist Church

When: 7.30pm

Remembrance and Ash Wednesday service.

  • Selwyn

Where: Selwyn District Council chambers, two minutes’ silence

When: 12.51pm

Where: Rolleston Domain

When: 5pm-7pm

Community picnic with music and children’s games

  • Waimakariri

Where: Kaiapoi Baptist Church, the Kaiapoi Club and the Oxford  Workingman’s Club

When: 12pm-1.30pm

North Hagley Park’s Civic Memorial Service will be screened.

Where: District Council Rangiora and Oxford service centres and  Darnley Square, Kaiapoi

When: 12.51pm

Two minute’s silence.

  • Auckland

Where: Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral

When: 12.30-1:00pm

Mayor Len Brown will lead two minute’s silence at 12.51pm.

Where: Aotea Square

When: 12.51pm

The Auckland Town Hall clock bell will ring at the start and finish of  two minutes’ silence.

Where: Auckland War Memorial Museum

When: 12pm-2pm

Reading from The Broken Book by Christchurch author Fiona  Farrell, two minutes’ silence at 12.51pm and a screening of When A City  Falls documentary at 1pm.

  • Wellington

Where: Anglican and Catholic cathedrals

When: 12.30pm

Wellington’s service will be hosted by the Anglican and Catholic  cathedrals, as vigil of solidarity with the two iconic Christchurch cathedrals  that were destroyed.

  • Dunedin

Where: Otago Museum lawn

When: 12.30pm

Otago Student Association president Logan Edgar says a two minute’s  silence, mayoral address from Dave Cull and end karakia will be held.

  • Wanganui

Where: Majestic Square

When: 5pm

Wanganui District Council’s youth committee and Mayor Annette Main will  be hosting a service.


Pike River tragedy unresolved

19/11/2011

A year ago today 31 men went into the Pike River mine.

Two survived the explosion which happened that afternoon, the rest died in the mine.

The first anniversary of a death is a big milestone which usually helps families and friends in their journey through the grief maze. They know they have survived all the firsts – birthdays, Christmas, mothers’ and fathers’ days – without the one for whom they are grieving and can realistically hope that the next year will be better.

But the coming year will bring more of the same for the relatives and friends of the Pike River men. They still have to endure the Royal Commission into the disaster and a court case of those being held accountable for it.

And they still wait in hope that the bodies or remains might be recovered.

The Pike River mine disaster is still an unresolved tragedy.

It could take many more months before it is resolved and regardless of how it is resolved it can never bring back those 29 men who went to work a year ago today.


Stomach knotted, brow knitted

14/10/2011

Is a knotted stomach an inner luck-bringing contortion in the nature of the outer display of digit crossing?

If so, we should be right because the nation’s stomachs are knotted and brows knitted too as an extra precaution.

That doesn’t mean we can relax though, because any unknotting of stomachs, unknitting of brows and uncrossing of digits could be tempting fate and fate has a way of acting capriciously enough without any encouragement from us.

If none of this makes sense – pop over to read Jim Hopkins’ diary of a column and see if that helps.

 

 


The facts on Rena – UPDATED

13/10/2011

The captain of the Rema and another officer have been charged with ‘operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk’.

It is difficult to understand how a container ship could hit a well marked  charted reef but the court case may answer some of the many questions about that.

In the mean time, a media release from National MP Dr Jackie Blue answers the critics who think the government should have done, and should still be doing more:

1. What are Government’s environmental priorities?

The main concern is the 1700 tonnes of heavy oil on the Rena, of which an estimated 350 tonnes has leaked.  The second priority is
the 80 tonnes of hazardous goods, albeit these raise greater occupational safety risks for the salvage operation than environmental risks to the Bay of Plenty community.  The third is the risk to shipping from the containers lost overboard.

 2. Why was oil not removed from the vessel earlier?

The heavy oil tanks on the Rena are serviced by pipes in the duct keel which was extensively damaged when the ship hit the reef. 
The time critical issue in getting the heavy oil off the ship was putting together the alternative pipe system to enable the tanks to be emptied.  A further priority was pumping oil out of the bow tanks that were damaged to the stern tanks.  An additional complication was intrusions within the tanks that made the job of getting the pumps in from the top difficult.  Even if the oil transfer vessel, the Awanuia, had arrived prior to Sunday it would not have changed the time when the pumping could have started.

3. Why were booms not placed to contain the oil around the ship?

Booms are only useful in very specific circumstances and their performance varies with the type of oil and sea conditions.  They don’t work in a chop of more than 0.5 metres or in any significant sea current.  The fuel oil in the ship is heavy grade and can float below the surface, also making booms less effective in this spill.  Absorption booms are being used in some of the estuaries, but are limited to areas where there
is low current.

4. What about the environmental safety of the dispersant being used?

Dispersants help reduce the harm of an oil spill by breaking up the oil and thus reducing the toll on birdlife.  It is most effective as soon as possible after the oil enters the ocean.  Five dispersants were trialled because different formulations work differently on different oil types.  The dispersant being used, Corexit 9500, is approved by the Environmental Protection Authority and has a low eco-toxicity.  It is similar to dishwashing liquid or washing powder.  It can have ecological effects in shallow waters that exceed its benefits and, as a consequence, its use is being limited to deeper waters.  The Government is taking a cautious approach to its use but decisions on this, like on other parts of the operation, are being made by technical experts.

 5. What implications are there from this spill for the Government’s plans for petroleum development
in the marine environment?

The Government has taken a very environmentally responsible approach in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.  There was an independent review of New Zealand’s regulations and systems for managing the risks.  This review found New Zealand’s regulations and systems were in good shape, with the exception of the gap in respect of assessment of environmental effects in the EEZ.  The Government has introduced legislation based on world’s best practise for the EEZ and put in place interim arrangements.  This legislation was supported by the Greens but opposed by Labour.  You should note that there were 14 test bores drilled in the deep sea during Labour’s last term, without any mandatory assessment of environmental effects.  The connection between this shipping based spill and proposed deep sea drilling are thin.  The risks are quite different and no one is suggesting that an export based country should ban shipping.

This is an environmental disaster but TV3 has a history of maritime disasters which put it into perspective:

An estimated 300 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has spilled into the sea from the  Rena so far.

* Last year the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded, spilling about 780,000  tonnes of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

* In 2003 the oil tanker Tasman Spirit ran aground off Karachi,Pakistan, spilling about 27,000 tonnes of crude oil.

* In 2002 the tanker Prestige wrecked on the Spanish coast leaked an  estimated 76,000 tonnes of crude oil.

* In 1989 the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska,  spilling up to 119,000 tonnes of crude oil.

* In 1978 the oil tanker Amoco Cadiz ran aground off the French coast and  broke up, spilling its cargo of 220,000 tonnes of light crude oil and 4000  tonnes of fuel oil into the sea.

And in New Zealand:

 * In 2002, the Jody F Millennium broke free from her moorings in Gisborne Harbour and ran onto the beach in rough seas. An  estimated 25 tonnes of fuel oil leaked out, coming ashore over about 8km of  coastline.

* Also in 2002, the Hong Kong-flagged carrier Tai Ping, carrying 9500 tonnes  of fertiliser, ran aground at Tiwai Point, at the entrance to Bluff Harbour.  After being grounded for nine days, the vessel was refloated with not a drop of  oil spilled.

* In 2000, the Seafresh 1 caught fire and sank off the Chatham Islands,  spilling 60 tonnes of diesel.

* In 1999, the container ship MV Rotoma discharged around 7 tonnes of oily  water off Northland’s east coast.

* In 1998, the Korean fishing vessel Don Wong 529 ran aground off Stewart  Island, spilling 400 tonnes of automotive oil.

NZ History online has a list of disasters among which are the following maritime ones:

* The Maria broke up on rocks near Wellington on  23 July 1851, with the loss of 26 lives.

* The sinking of the Orpheus which hit the Manakau bar in 1863 killing 189 of the 259 people on board.

* The City of Dunedin which disappeared without trace in 1865 with 39 passengers and crew.

* After fire broke out on board the Fiery Star in 1865 the captain and 77 passengers took to the lifeboats and were never seen again.

* The steamer Taiaroa struck rocks at the mouth of the Clarence River on 11 April 1886, and 34 people drowned.

* The sinking of the General Grant in 1866 resulted in the death of all but 15 of the 83 on board.

* In 1869, 20 people died when the St Vincent was wrecked in Palliser Bay.

* In  1881, the steamer  Tararua struck a reef at Waipapa Point, Southland. In all, 131 passengers and crew died, including 12 women and 14 children. Most were washed overboard and drowned while the rescuers were held back by high seas.

* The following year a sudden storm wrecked two large sailing ships, the City of Perth and Ben Venue, in Timaru’s exposed roadstead. Nine lives were lost. Among the dead were the port’s harbourmaster and five local watermen, who had tried to rescue the ships’ crews.

* In 1886 Taiaroa struck rocks near the mouth of the Clarence River, north of Kaikōura, and sank with the loss of 34 lives.

* In  1894 the steamer Wairarapa hit cliffs on Great Barrier Island, resulting in the deaths of 101 of the 186 passengers and 20 of the 65 crew.

*  In 1902 the three-masted sailing ship the Loch Long was wrecked off the Chatham Islands, with the loss of 24 lives.

*  The same year  the steamer Elingamite was wrecked on the Three Kings Islands, north of Cape Rēinga, with the loss of 45 lives.

* In 1909 the Cook Strait ferry Penguin struck rocks off Cape Terawhiti and sank with the loss of 72 lives.

* In 1950 the passenger launch Ranui, returning from a holiday trip to Mayor Island, was wrecked on North Rock, Mt Maunganui. Of the 23 people on board, only one survived.

* In 1951 the 10 crew on board  Husky and Argo, were lost during the centennial Wellington-Lyttelton yacht race. (My father was on board the Caplin, another yacht which entered the race).

* The Holmglen foundered north of Oamaru in 1959. All 15 crew were lost.

* In 1966 the collier Kaitawa was lost with all 29 hands.

* In 1968 the  Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine struck Barrett Reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. Of the 734 passengers and crew on board, 51 died (a 52nd victim died several weeks later, and a 53rd of related causes in 1990).

These don’t make the foundering of the Rema any better.

It is an environmental disaster which will have social and economic repercussions but no human lives have been lost, nor should any be put at risk in the recovery and clean-up.

UPDATE: Whaleoil has some graphics which also put the Rena into perspective.


Can’t risk living to bring back dead

26/09/2011

Tom was only 20 weeks old when he died.

We were in hospital at the time and among the formalities which had to be completed was signing a form giving permission for a post mortem.

I had no objection to that. I was at least as anxious as the medical staff to find a cause of the brain disorder which killed him and I waited with increasing desperation for the results.

It was a very long wait. We passed the 20 week mark after his death so he’d been dead longer than he’d been alive and still the post mortem report didn’t come.

The longer we waited the more I focussed on the results but when the letter finally came it was an anti-climax and a disappointment. The investigations undertaken after his death told us no more than the results of the numerous tests Tom had endured during his life.

In hindsight I realise that it wasn’t just the absence of any answers to our questions of what had caused Tom’s illness, which upset me. It was that focussing on the post mortem results had led me down a by way off the grieving highway. The letter brought me to a dead end and forced me to accept there wasn’t going to be a happy-ever-after there. The son we had loved was dead and with him died the hopes and dreams we’d had for his future which we hadn’t even been aware of until we lost him and them.

The report on which I’d put so much importance was nothing more than a reminder I had to return to the main road, come to terms with Tom’s death and get on with living.

All that a long time ago now, more than 20 years, but reports on the desperation of the families of the men who died in the Pike River mine remind me of how I felt.

Anguish and anger are natural and normal reactions to the tragic deaths of their men and wanting to get them back is understandable. But even if, after two explosions and subsequent fire, there is something to bring back, it won’t by itself make anything better. The families are stuck down a side road, waiting as I was. Whatever they might have when the waiting is over it won’t be what they want which is the living men they remember and for whom they grieve.

Nobody could have told me I was waiting in vain and I don’t expect the Pike River families to give up on the hope a recovery operation could, and belief it should, be undertaken.

However, those responsible for the mine can’t be swayed be the strong and understandable emotions of those who grieve. No matter what the bereaved families think and feel, the living can’t be put at risk to bring back the dead.


9/11 ten years on

11/09/2011

It was the morning of September 12th here 10 years ago, but still September 11th in the United States,  when we woke to the sight and sound of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre.

As the day wore on we learned a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and another crashed in  Pennsylvania.

Ten years on we remember the people who died, the people who survived with horrific injuries and the people who acted with heroism to help others.

The best way to honour them is to celebrate freedom and live freely. These are things we usually take for granted and they are concepts the people who led and took part in the attacks and their ilk didn’t and don’t understand.

Keeping Stock posts a documentary on the attacks and the aftermath.

Liberty Scott says 9/11 was an attack on modernity.

Whaleoil reminds us that while most people were running out, people from the emergency services were running in.


Surely next year will be better

04/09/2011

Who would have thought that today, on the first anniversary of the Canterbury earthquake, life in Christchurch would be no better, and for many worse, than it was a year ago?

A friend had gas hot water until the February quake and he hasn’t had a hot shower in his own home since then.

Many people are in far more difficult circumstances than that. Even those whose homes and businesses aren’t badly affected are feeling the emotional strain from the on-going shakes.

One problem is the bottle neck of stalled property sales because insurance companies won’t provide cover for them. Another is the difference in the price of land in much of the red zone and other parts of the city where people might be able to build new homes.

People are living in limbo waiting for decisions and progress and are understandably running out of patience.

In a rare move, Cabinet will meet in Christchurch on Monday. They will be able to see for themselves the extent of the problems and get a better idea of what is needed to help with the recovery.

They can’t stop the shakes but hopefully they will be able to do something to ensure that the next year will be a better one for the city and its people.


Reminders good and bad

15/08/2011

My grandfather was nominally a Presbyterian. However, although he rarely attended church he wouldn’t attend the marriage of one of his sons because he was marrying a Catholic.

Last night’s Sunday Theatre Tangiwai was a reminder of the religious bigotry that was common in the 1950s.

The story of Nerissa Love and her fiancée New Zealand cricketer Bob Blair was a moving portrayal of one of our country’s greatest tragedies and it was also a reminder of how good television can be.

If you didn’t see the film last night, the link above will take you to it.

Jacqueline Smith tells the story behind the film here.

The Tangiwai blog is collecting personal stories of the disaster.

NZ History tells the story of the Boxing Day cricket test.


Terror or terrorism?

23/07/2011

Norway has suffered the worst violence since World War II with at least seven people killed in an explosion at a government building and many more shot dead at a youth camp.

These are acts of terror although it is not yet known if they were acts of terrorism.

Regardless of who was responsible, it is a reminder of how vulnerable we all are.

When we were in New York earlier this month we had to pass through x-rays at the entrance to places like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building. But there were many other places with no obvious signs of security where someone determined to unleash terror could have done so.

Today’s attacks in Norway show it is impossible to guard everyone everywhere and no-one should  try to. Just as the British people learned to live with the threat of IRA bombings in the 1970s and 80s, we must accept sensible precautions but not let them curtail our freedom.


Goodwill elastic but not infinite

26/06/2011

Canterbury people have had more than enough.

The rest of the country accepts that and that the government, and therefore taxpayers, will play a big part in the recovery.

As John Armstrong wrote:

The compensation package has other wider political connotations. It had to be fair to those who have no option but to get shot of their wrecked properties and rebuild elsewhere. And it had to be fair to taxpayers outside Christchurch who will end up paying the lion’s share of the bill.

Labour’s post-announcement silence suggests that party realises that carping about the package not being adequate would not go down well in the rest of the country.

The  package didn’t please everyone and some have complained they won’t be getting enough.

David Hayward  and others who find insurance companies won’t give them the full replacement value for which they paid premiums are justifiably aggrieved. 

But others – and it is a very small number – complaining that the value of the homes they’ll have to abandon isn’t high enough and who want more than the government is offering are on much shakier ground.

How much they think is enough for them would almost certainly be too much for the rest of the country.

 Goodwill towards Christchurch and its citizens is elastic but it’s not infinite.


Earthquake package gives choice

23/06/2011

The government’s announcement of the next steps for Christchurch people offers some choice to property owners in the worst affected areas:

Advice from geotechnical engineers has seen all greater Christchurch land divided into four residential zones – red, orange, green and white.

Residential red zones – which involve around 5000 properties – are where the land is unlikely to be able to be rebuilt on for a considerable period of time.

Homeowners in this zone face lengthy disruption that could go on for many years, Mr Key said.

For people who owned property with insurance in the residential red zones on 3 September 2010 there will be two options:

• the Crown makes an offer of purchase for the entire property at current rating value (less any built property insurance payments already made), and assumes all the insurance claims other than contents; or
• the Crown makes an offer of purchase for the land only, and homeowners can continue to deal with their own insurer about their homes.

The government has been criticised for leaving people in limbo but the Prime Minister explained why it has taken so long to get to this point:

Mr Key said the size, scale and complexity of the issues the government has been dealing with following the earthquakes means it has taken some time to get information to residents.

“Each subsequent earthquake since 4 September has made an already large and complex challenge more difficult.

“To put this in context, Treasury has estimated the combined cost of the first two Canterbury earthquakes to be equivalent to about 8 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP.

“Damage from the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan was just over 2 per cent of Japan’s GDP, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 cost about 1 per cent of US GDP, and March’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster was an estimated 3-5 per cent of Japan’s GDP.

“This has been a major event and the government is committed to getting things right for the people of Canterbury. We’re moving as quickly as we can to give some certainty to those affected,” Mr Key said.

Treasury estimates put the net cost of all the properties in the red zone – about 5000 – at $485 million to $635 million.

The number of people who take up the offer, government valuations and insurance payouts will determine the final costs which will be met from the $5.5 billion Canterbury Earthquake recovery Fund.

People have nine months to consider the offer.

The government can’t make the problems go away but this is a generous offer which gives people choices and time to consider their options.

Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee says the information released today is the most up to date information that can be provided. Details are here.

It includes the announcement that people in the green zone are free to rebuild. People in the orange zone – owners of about 10,000 properties will ahve tow ait before more work is done.

A website, LandCheck, has been set up for people to check the staus of their properties.

A video of the announcement by The Prime Minsiter and Minister is here.


What about the uninsured?

23/06/2011

This afternoon’s announcement on assistance for property owners in parts of Christchurch will apply to those who had insurance.

NZPA understands the offer that is going to be put on the table is for insured houses in the worst-affected suburbs and the payout will be at the government valuation for the houses immediately before the first earthquake in September.

The Government will pay the money upfront and then get most of it back from insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission.

What about the uninsured?

They might be eligible for welfare but they cannot receive compensation without undermining the insurance industry.

They took the risk of remaining uninsured and they will have to pay the price.

That might seem tough, but a conversation I overheard between two supermarket workers explains why that is the way it must be:

“I’ve paid premiums for 20 years and never had to claim. Why would you bother if you knew that those who paid nothing would get something?” one said.

“Well you wouldn’t would you?” the other replied.

 


Maybe the end of the beginning

22/06/2011

Some Christchurch people will find out the fate of their properties tomorrow with a briefing from Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee:

“As part of this announcement, the government will be presenting options for homeowners with insurance in some of the worst affected areas,” Mr Brownlee said.

“This is the next step in the government’s commitment to providing timely and accurate information to the people of greater Christchurch. While we will not be able to provide all the answers to all residents tomorrow, we will continue to provide regular updates to residents on progress over coming weeks.

“This announcement will provide some certainty for residents in the worst affected areas, and will give them options for their immediate future.”

Gravedodger says everyone is a little bit more fragile. That will be putting it mildly for the people living with the ongoing fear and disruption and Ciaron’s comment at Keeping Stock reminds us of the difficulties facing professionals who are tasked with recovery efforts.

Tomorrow’s announcement won’t be the end of the problems for the people affected nor, as Churchill said the beginning of the end, but it might be the end of the beginning.

“We will be releasing the most up-to-date information we have about the state of the land in greater Christchurch.”


Planet wins but doesn’t beat us

18/06/2011

This week we’ve been reminded again that nature rules, or as Jim Hopkins said:

No power on earth can regulate the power of earth. The planet wins. It always does. And has for 4 billion years.

The ground beneath us quaked and the air above us was full of ash.

Australia to the west or the islands to the north come most readily to mind when we talk of neighbours. But the eruption of Puyehue-Cordón Caulle reminded us that over the fence and across the sea to the east is South America and what happens there can affect us here.

And when things happen we like to do something about it. To quote Hopkins again:

Fatalism does not sit well with Kiwis. We’re a DIY, GSI (Get Stuck In) bunch, wedded to the optimistic idea that there’s nothing a bit of No. 8 wire can’t fix or recreate.

Much as we’d like to we can’t stop the earth shaking nor can we stop the volcano spewing.

But bad as this week has been for so many, there have also been many reminders that nature’s worst encourages people’s best:

 “Stuff happens. We’ve just got to deal with it.” And we do. And we will. Because we can. That much we do control. The best time to laugh is when you want to cry.

The planet always wins but it doesn’t always beat us. People whose homes are in ruins, who are living without power, running water, functioning sewers or dealing with the frustrations of cancelled flights have shown that they can not only bear the unbearable they can keep on doing it. 

They couldn’t control what happened but they can and do control how they react.

This week there have been understandable tears and tantrums. But even when people have had more than enough they have also been strong, resilient, selfless, determined and shown that while the planet won they haven’t been beaten.


Insurance log jam

02/06/2011

An insurance company has 1,000 claims all ticked off but has paid out only eight.

That’s what someone in the construction industry in Christchurch told us.

It must be bad enough coping with the February earthquake and its aftermath without having living in limbo because your claim is caught up in an insurance log jam.


Sutton right man for big job

13/05/2011

The appointment of Roger Sutton as the chief executive of Cera,  the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, is an inspired one.

The Press says:

Roger Sutton calls himself a “big picture guy”, but admits his new role heading the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is going to require a wider lens.

As chief executive of Christchurch lines company Orion for the past eight years, Sutton has built a reputation as an approachable, communicative, analytical, creative and quirky business leader. . .

. . . In 2003, he beat 38 other applicants to the chief executive job.

He has made it his own through a tumultuous time in the energy industry.

Sutton said he relished the cross-over of engineering into wider society – economics, environment and regulation – and saw an opportunity to take those interests by applying to lead Cera.

“I didn’t initially apply but a lot of people talked to me about the role and suggested it would be a good thing if I applied, so in the end I did, so here I am,” he said.

He has taken a significant cut in salary to take the job. On Checkpoint last night he said he’d be dropping about $200,000.

That is a considerable financial sacrifice which shows his commitment to his city and its recovery.

It is a very big job and the wide approval across the political spectrum shows he is the right man for it.


Inside the red zone

09/05/2011

Cerra has released a photographic tour of Christchurch’s red zone showing the earthquake damage.

Hat tip: Laughy Kate.


%d bloggers like this: