We remember


Six years ago at 12:51 Christchurch and the Canterbury hinterland were struck by an earthquake.

It’s easy for those of us who don’t live there to underestimate the on-going impact of it.

Friends are still arguing with their insurance company, the centre of the city is only very slowly coming back to life and the physical, emotional, and financial impacts are still being felt.

Today we remember Christchurch, Canterbury, the 185 people who died, their family and friends, the people who helped, and those who are still helping.

Kia Kaha.

Canterbury can


Quote of the day:

 Like this if you agree.

We have friends in Christchurch who keep us in touch with what’s happening and we toured the red zone a couple of months ago.

But no-one who isn’t living there can really understand what it’s like living there and dealing with the aftermath of the big earthquakes and the ongoing after shocks.

Those who are doing it are showing compassion, practicality and resilience that none of us know we possess until we’re put to the test.

They’re showing us Canterbury can and is recovering.

Two years on


It’s the second anniversary of Canterbury’s first big earthquake.

Update – the graphic was “borrowed” from a  friend on Facebook.

Should RMA consider management of natural hazards?


An independent report, commissioned after the Canterbury earthquakes,  recommends changes to the Resource management Act to take account of natural hazards and urban infrastructure development.

The risk of liquefaction wasn’t taken into account in granting consent for subdivisions because the RMA doesn’t require natural hazards to be considered.

Its priorities are preserving natural character, landscape, flora and fauna, public access, cultural values and heritage.

The report proposes changes to that, about which Environment Minister Amy Adams says:

The report proposes that changes be made to the principles in sections 6 and 7 of the RMA to bring managing natural hazards and urban and infrastructure into the list of things that should be considered when Councils grant resource consents.

It also says that none of these matters should be more important than another, and proposes changes to the structure of the RMA to make this clearer.

Most lay people hadn’t heard of liquefaction and wouldn’t have been particularly concerned about it before the earthquakes. But now we’ve seen its impacts it is not hard to make a case for including the risk of natural hazards in the RMA.

“A key consideration for the Government in thinking about any changes to the resource management system is to achieve enduring outcomes while reducing the time, costs and uncertainties involved in the process.”

The RMA isn’t working as well as it should and could. All these factors must be considered in improvements to it.

Interim quake report requires higher standards


The Royal Commission on the Canterbury earthquakes has released its interim report.

Commission chair Justice Mark Cooper said:

The timing has, of necessity, meant that the Royal Commission has not been able to produce a lengthy list of recommendations. However, this Report does make some recommendations which reflect our view that urgent action is required in respect of some aspects of current building design practice, both in Christchurch and elsewhere, to make some buildings’ elements (particularly stairs and floors in multi-storey buildings) more resilient.

 The Royal Commission is also of the view that immediate action is necessary to strengthen parts of unreinforced masonry buildings that could fail, causing injury or loss of life, in earthquakes that are less severe than the Canterbury earthquakes were. We have made recommendations accordingly.

Its recommendations include  soil analysis and appropriate foundation design, changes to some structural design standards and construction practices, and use of new building technologies.

Other issues which will be addressed in the final report including lessons to be learned from the failures of the CTV and PGC buildings where the majority of victims of February’s quake died.

Some recommendations are directed only at Christchurch but others will apply to the rest of the country as well.

Earthquake strengthening requirements have often been regarded as overly onerous but the February earthquake demonstrated the importance of high standards for design and building.



Surely next year will be better


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.

It’s Aftersocks Day


Rural Women NZ have declared today Aftersocks Day.

“Our aftersocks™ have been a huge success since their launch in July, with tens of thousands of dollars raised for the Christchurch Mayoral Fund,” says RWNZ National President, Liz Evans.

On 2 September Rural Women New Zealand is urging all its aftersocks™ customers to pull on a pair and to send in photos of where they get to in their socks.

Rural Women New Zealand members around the country will be hitting the streets selling aftersocks™, making sure everyone around the country has a pair to wear.

Sunday is the first anniversary of the Canterbury earthquake and the earth is still moving.

A 4.9 magnitude shake woke up Christchurch this morning, following  4.0 and 4.8 shakes yesterday.

Local body inaction leaves many in limbo


Earthquake Recovery Minister has delivered a pointed message to Canterbury local authorities:

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government is unwilling to tolerate undue delays over resource consents for new Christchurch subdivisions.

Mr Brownlee says local authorities cannot afford to have a business-as-usual approach to consenting subdivisions.

It sounds like the Minister is losing patience and if what I’ve been hearing is true he is justified.

His comment is aimed at Christchurch City Council, the Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils, Canterbury Regional Council and Christchurch Motorways. But the worst of the damage is in the CCC area and that appears to be where the least is happening.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker did a very good job as the public face of the city immediately after the large earthquakes. But leadership requires more than reassurance.

People living in desperate situations are in limbo and council inaction is partly to blame for that.

Maybe the end of the beginning


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.”

Paying a fair share


Jamie Mackay in praising Maori Television makes an interesting observation:

It is also to be congratulated for being brave enough to go where the major networks feared to tread by running a telethon for the Canterbury Earthquake, raising $2.5 million in the process. Of that, Fonterra contributed $1 million, or roughly $90 per dairy farmer. The remainder of New Zealand contributed $1.5 million, or roughly 35 cents per man, woman and child. And the Dom Post says dairy farmers are not paying their fair share?

Fonterra also gave another $500,000 towards production costs so all money raised went to earthquake recovery. And who knows how much of the other $1.5 raised came from dairy farmers?

Labour’s line on dairy farmers not paying tax was classic wedge politics based on a selective use of numbers. As Jamie says:

It’s now abundantly clear the dodgy Dom Post beat-up was a softening-up process ahead of Labour’s attack on farming at its annual conference. The politics of envy is alive and kicking (farmers in the groin). It’s a shame some in the Beehive don’t take a moment to reflect on agriculture’s contribution to society and the economy, rather than being hell-bent on making it a divisive election issue, pitting town against country. Rich farmers are not the problem. Rich farmers are the solution.

Dairy farmers do pay a fair share of tax – most of us  would say we pay more than enough. At the moment we’re also doing more than our fair share for the economy and like most other New Zealanders, businesses and individuals, also contribute to worthy causes.

2030 and counting


The aftershock count from the Canterbury earthquake was up to 2030 at 9.30 last night.

A friend was in a mall in Christchurch when yesterday’s magnitude 5 one struck. She said the worst thing was that there was nowhere obvious to go that might be safe.

She said that some people are coping better than others. She just takes a deep breath and carries on but a young man who was with her was still shaking more than an hour later.

Paul Nichol’s animated map gives a good idea of the number and frequency of the quakes, but it doesn’t, and can’t, show what life is like for the people for whom normal isn’t normal any more.

The best depiction of that is the speech Amy Adams made in parliament a few days after the first one:

A tale of two cultures


A New Zealand businesswoman was in China when the discussion with one of her hosts turned to the Canterbury earthquake.

He said it was impossible that no-one could be killed after a quake of that magnitude. The government must have very tight control on the media and the people to keep the death toll hidden.

She laughed.

Then she said that no, no-one had died which was due in part to an element of luck but also to our building codes. She added that had anyone died there would have been no attempt to cover it up, the media here is free and the government not only doesn’t, it couldn’t control it.

He laughed.

Mayoral fund for people not property


Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said that the mayoral fund won’t be used to help people whose properties weren’t insured.

Speaking to Guyon Espiner on Q&A yesterday he said:

No, I think that we can’t replace insurance.  We have to be really clear about that, and the money that we’ve got in that fund, we’ve said that’s for people, not for property.  We’re using that money to help citizens, help families that are in difficult times, and that’s going to be needed for a long time ahead, Guyon, we’re going to need that for another 18 months or so as we work through these problems.  I don’t think we can solve all of the problems for everybody if you don’t have insurance.  Really, that’s the decision you’ve made.  There will be some cases of hardship, and we are the kind of community that will try to help, and work with people to solve those problems.

He’s right.

It may sound tough but it’s also fair. People who weren’t insured took a gamble and lost.

If they received compensation from the mayoral fund or central government it would send a message to people that they don’t need to worry about insurance.

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