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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

EQC release fourteen more new geotech factual reports

EQC have released fourteen more T&T geotechnical factual reports. These reports are the results of geotechnical work undertaken months or weeks ago and so will throw no light on last week's events (see below). The reports cover:
  • Avonside
  • Beckenham & Cashmere
  • Bromley
  • Bryndwr
  • Burwood 
  • Christchurch City
  • Fendalton
  • Linwood
  • Merivale
  • New Brighton
  • Richmond
  • Shirley
  • South New Brighton
  • Woolston 
These, and the previously released reports, can be found here.

To repeat what was said in previous posts: much of the material is impenetrable to the normal mind but may have some useful background and summary information in the main part. The appendices have the bulk of the technical stuff. Appendix A defines the area under investigation, shows where the testing took place and what sort of testing it was. The other appendices vary in content and intelligibility.

The full list of releases is now:

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Zoning appeals

In today's Press (here) it is mentioned that on the 23rd a Green Zone resident received a letter from CERA advising his zoning appeal had been turned down: he was confirmed as being Green. On the same day his area of Burwood erupted into mud volcanoes and was awash with silt and water.

This raises serious issues about the zoning appeal process.

The first point to note is that the appeal process has yet to be made public by CERA (it isn't mentioned on their website and they are not responding to e-mails until the 4th of January). It possibly doesn't even exist in final form. Until the process is announced and scrutinised there is absolutely no certainty that the appeal process is accessible, fair or reasonable. At the moment it seems to be more in the nature of a secret tribunal.

The second point is the absence of access to information about how decisions are being made for particular areas or individual properties. On what criteria was a decision based? What weighting was applied to each of the criteria agreed by Cabinet**. This information needs to be available so that anyone contemplating an appeal has the opportunity to know how the original decision was reached, and an understanding of what they are appealing against. In some cases it may be clear that the grounds for appeal are not strong, while in others the reason for zoning will not be clear.

The damage in some areas on the 23rd, such as Burwood and Parklands, is a warning that Green Zone decisions may have been too general or overly weighted with non-technical criteria. Waiting months for a re-assessment of Parklands, for instance, cannot be assumed to give comfort or confidence to others who feel their zoning is inappropriate. And how will the uncertainties be resolved? Will the same people be involved in the reassessment? What will be done differently this time, compared to the previous assessment? Will it be any better? Where did the assessment fail? Why? Was it avoidable?

Friday's earthquake shows that not all the decisions of the past are vindicated. There is less confidence in the Green zoning than there was a week ago. Short of an open and informative process doubts will remain and can only increase. The Official Information Act was introduced to avoid secrecy such as this, the same Act that the Minister has been failing to honour. Now that it is clear that some of the decisions of the past are suspect, information must be made available to all who want to know.

An open appeal process, accompanied by access to all information that lead to a property being zoned, has to be available early in the new year.

** NOTE: The blog post for the 17th of September (here) covered how the cost-effectiveness of land remediation is measured. Here is part of that post:

What follows is extracted from para 8.1 of the Cabinet Minute of the 15th of August. A copy can be downloaded from the CERA website here.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

Post after-shocks report

Poor old Retreat Road experienced significant amounts of liquefaction and flooded again, as did the southern end of Keller Street (see photographs below). Chaddesden Lane and both ends of Cowlishaw Street also experienced liquefaction. Patten Street, Silverdale Place and Halley Place seemed okay. Once more the river turned the colour of mushroom soup.

There seems to have been no injuries or significant problems with property. The worst damage has been sustained by people, especially Orange zoned people, who still don't know what the future holds for them as their well being is battered again.

How long is it going to be until those in Retreat Road, Chaddesden Lane and elsewhere get rezoned? While government ministers and their officials take a nice long break, those who are in a most dreadful situation wait upon their leisure. Not the most civilised or humane of approaches for a government to take. Perhaps now the Prime Minister will exercise leadership and explain exactly what has to be done, how long it will take, and when it will be finished.

(click for photographs)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Support availability for the holiday period

During the Christmas shut-down period some support services will still be available if required. The following is from the CERA web site, and a list of support services is available here.  
Canterbury Support Line
The Canterbury Support Line for services such as counselling, accommodation assistance, financial assistance, legal services or health services will be available to callers over the Christmas period from 8.30am to 11.00pm seven days a week on 0800 777 846.
Temporary Accommodation
The Temporary Accommodation Service will be available on normal working days throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Their contact number is 0800 673 227. For accommodation assistance on other days people can go to or call 0800 777 846.
Government Helpline
The 0800 Government Helpline (0800 77 99 97) is closed on the statutory holidays. The normal operating hours are 7.00am to 6.00pm weekdays, and 8.00am to 1.00pm Saturday.
Housing New Zealand
Housing New Zealand is continuing to work with its tenants in the red zone to make their eventual shift to other accommodation as smooth as possible.
Over the Christmas/New year period the Corporation’s Contact Centre 0800 801 601 will be open 24/7 for any urgent inquiries. The Papanui Neighbourhood Unit at 6 Restell St and Linwood Community Link at 154 Aldwins Rd will also be open everyday except for the statutory holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and January 2 and 3).
Anyone who would like their eligibility for state housing assessed is welcome to contact Housing New Zealand at any time.
Earthquake Assistance Centres
The Earthquake Assistance Centre at the Avondale Golf Club on the Corner of Breezes and Wainoni Roads will close at Midday on 23 December 2011 and reopen at 10am on 4 January 2012.
The Kaiapoi Earthquake Hub at 11 Cass Street will close at 5pm on 22 December 2011 and reopen at 9am on Wednesday 4 January 2012.
Work and Income
Work and Income are open every day, except the statutory days, over Christmas and New Year.
Work and Income and Community Link service centres are open for business from Monday to Friday 8:30am–5pm, Wednesday 9:30am–5pm. To find the office nearest to you visit
You don’t need to be on a benefit to get help from Work and Income. If you’re not sure what you may be eligible for please visit or phone 0800 559 009 or visit a service centre.
Specialist mental health services
In a psychiatric emergency call Psychiatric Emergency Services on 03 364 0482 or 0800 920 092. In all other emergencies call 111.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

On being Green - technical categories and your property.

This week CERA sent Green-Blue TC3 properties a booklet called Technical categories and your property. The booklet can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

Over 12 pages the booklet endeavours to take away the mystery of what the categories mean, especially the Green-Blue TC3 category. This is done under the following headings:
  • Technical categories explained
  • Claim process flow chart
  • Technical categories and EQC
  • Next steps for your insurance claim
  • Infrastructure and consenting
Does it work to demystify the land categories? For me - not much. The reasons are:

Some of the wording used is more likely to cause confusion than reduce it.
  • On page 2 the introduction contains the following "Land in the green zone is generally considered suitable for residential construction ..." What does "generally" mean? Can it be inferred that some Green zoned sections will at some stage be deemed unsuitable for rebuilding? If so, a reference to where the explanatory information can be found is essential. 
  • On page 6, second paragraph, there is the following: "EQC covers damage to a residential building up to the EQC building claim cap (which is generally $100,000 plus GST per event)." It is repeated again in the EQC section on page 6.  What options does the word "generally" offer?
Relatively new decisions on who will do what are not explained. 
  • On page 4 the seventh step of the flowchart introduces the concept that EQC will undertake rebuilds of houses "Under cap". When was that decided, and where can more information about it be found? The explanatory note to that part of the flowchart (page 5) raises the concept of managing your own rebuild. Where is the information about values, options, processes, cash payments, accredited builders etc?  
Some of the important ideas and procedures aren't fully explained.
  • On page 7 the last bullet point includes the following: "If EQC determines remediation of your land is uneconomic, it will cash settle for the amount of EQC’s maximum liability. The owner retains ownership of the land ..." What options are there for broken land? Has EQC created a tiny Red Zone? What are the obligations and consequences for the land owner?
  • Throughout the document there are comments along the line "This means site-specific deep geotechnical investigation and specific engineering foundation design must be carried out." (from page 3). What are these activities, what do they do, who does them, how? A reference to where more information can be found is important to understanding what is involved. It shouldn't be hard to provide this because the next sentence says: " Site-specific engineering foundation design is commonplace in many parts of New Zealand."
The booklet is a valiant attempt to help understand what the technical categories mean, and how land owners will be affected. It fails through trying too hard to cover a lot of territory with too little information. Perhaps the use of both a suitable technical writer and editor might help.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Release of EQC and Fletchers repair time frames

EQC have today released information on the time frames for repair work to be undertaken by Fletchers/EQR. The main target for the Canterbury Home Repair Programme is 80 percent of homes in the managed repair programme completed by 2014.

Fletchers/EQR have stated:
“Within this target (80%), EQC will prioritise the worst damaged homes – those with over $50,000 worth of damage. We hope to have these completed by mid-2013, but it will depend on the number of properties which ultimately fall into this category. We will update our customers on progress against this target as we go."
The EQC media release is here and that of Fletchers/EQR here.

There is no hard information yet about how decisions will be made, and whether priority will also be assessed in terms of need ( e.g. health & well being, age, infants and young children, how long people have been out of their homes or living in damaged homes). So far costs and efficiencies appear to be the primary criteria (although see Fletcher/EQR's meadia release here). As prioritising is not covered in the EQC Act or insurance policies there would seem to be room to manoeuvre. Granted insurers and re-insurers will want to minimise costs, but the social impact has to be considered. EQC provide a brief overview of how they are currently looking at priorities here.

No mention is made of those cases where rebuilds are involved and EQC are of the view they should be done by Fletchers/EQR.

Also not mentioned is the potentially vexed issue of timetabling work around mutual convenience. Anecdotally the approach to date has been to tell homeowners when they must move out, at times with little prior notice, and pressurise the people to comply. Some time soon there will need to be a discussion over the relative positions of the parties to the EQC contract.

At this early stage there is not much that can be said about what is intended, other than a slight misapprehension that this could become a situation where easy gains and short cuts will be taken throughout the work chain to meet deadlines.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Today's re-zoning announcement and the Orange zones

Details of today's White Zone announcement are on the CERA site here. Residents will need to wait until 4.00pm tomorrow before the landcheck website here will show which properties have been reclassified as Green.

Confirmation has been received that Orange Zone properties will not be re-zoned this year, but remain a top priority. The reason for this is that the remaining Orange zones are the most complex areas to re-zone, and each faces unique geotechnical issues and potential solutions.

As well as identifying and investigating possible land remediation solutions, the Department of Building and Housing is undertaking research on design solutions for house foundations. The findings may or may not provide further options for rebuilding in these areas. The work of the DBH is not expected to be completed until February.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Red Zone maintenance

In his weekly update released yesterday Roger Sutton covered a number of issues important to those living in the Red zones or nearby.

Extracts from the update appear below. Some of the content needs to be seen as a starting point in discussions and negotiations between CERA and various communities. Areas where this will apply include destruction of established trees of various species and sizes, habitat protection, and how risks and security issues can be dealt with promptly and before damage, loss, or harm occurs. Not mentioned below, but starting to become a widespread health issue, is the growing number rats which will need to be tackled on an area-wide basis. 

An excellent concept is contained in the last bullet point where a single phone number will become available to deal with concerns.

  • Demolitions in the residential red zone will start in the new year with built structures such as houses and garages removed first. Remaining fences, vegetation, driveways and paths will be removed later. People may remove favourite trees and plants before they vacate the property.
  • CERA has been working with Fire Service, Police, Insurers, ECan and Councils around safety and security of properties in the residential red zone. Canterbury typically has dry summers and winds which increase the fire risk and the Fire Service continues to identify fire hazards and has a process in place to respond.
  • Responsibility for properties ultimately lies with the owners which includes mitigating risks on their properties including fire, security, hazardous wastes, swimming pools etc Owners may be private, Council, Department of Building and Housing, insurance companies or CERA. Councils have processes in place to inspect properties and can require owners to take steps to mitigate any risks or security issues.
  • Waimakariri District Council has a plan to mow grass on some of the empty sections before Christmas and Christchurch City Council mows the grass verges and is currently working with CERA to provide a service to red zone property owners who can call them to arrange to have their grass cut.
  • ECan has been funded by the Ministry for the Environment to collect hazardous waste from Red Zone properties – that might include garden sprays, engine oil, gas cylinders, fridges with refrigerant, paint etc.
  • We are concerned that people may either leave hazardous substances unsecured in empty properties or pour substances down the drain which will ultimately go into the storm water or sewerage system and into the environment. We are encouraging people to phone ECan to access this service.
  • We are also working together to produce one phone number for people to call if the have concerns about a property and hope to have that set up after the Christmas break. In the mean time, we encourage people to call ECan, Council or CERA if the have any concerns about properties – we can’t be everywhere and we appreciate people bringing any issues to our attention.
The full update from Roger Sutton can be found here.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Crown entity to manage AMI's earthquake claims

The information below is from today's media release by Bill English (Finance Minister, Minister responsible for EQC). The full media release can be found here.
IAG's agreement to purchase AMI Insurance, announced today, will strengthen the Canterbury insurance market and reduce the Crown's liability, Finance Minister Bill English says. As part of the deal, the Crown will take over ownership of AMI Insurance’s Canterbury earthquake related claims.
"The part of AMI dealing with earthquake claims – along with its reinsurance for those events - will be retained as a new Crown company and will continue to manage AMI's customers' earthquake claims," Mr English says. This will ensure those claims are managed effectively and with the minimum of disruption.
"For earthquake affected AMI policyholders, this means their existing earthquake claims will be managed by the new Crown company, while the IAG group will manage their ongoing insurance cover. For AMI policyholders around New Zealand, the IAG group will manage their insurance cover."
The Government has appointed Nelson-based company director Ross Butler to chair the new Crown company. Mr Butler has a background in finance and insurance-related companies and is currently chairman of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and deputy chairman of GNS Science.
The agreement is subject to regulatory approval, including from the Commerce Commission.
The media release includes information in a Q&A format. The following are selected from there:

AMI Insurance update - takeover by IAG

AMI has been purchased by IAG. The result is the Crown (government) through a Crown owned company will take over settling AMI's earthquake claims using AMI and government money.

The new AMI insurance company will be owned by IAG and carry on business as normal, with the exception of the earthquake claims. IAG today issued a commitment to AMI customers which can be found here.

AMI have a questions and answers page here to explain how policy holders will be affected. Some choice bits:
Does my AMI Insurance policy still offer the same protection?
Yes it does. Your current policies are exactly as before with the same renewal dates.
On what date will these changes become effective?
The changes are expected to be complete early next year subject to IAG obtaining the necessary regulatory consents.
Can I still take out new policies and will this new policy be with AMI or IAG?
Yes, we welcome your new business subject to current and future underwriting conditions that may be apply.  Policies taken out after settlement will be effectively underwritten by IAG, the new owner of AMI, but will be under the name of  AMI Insurance.
If I live in Canterbury, will AMI continue to insure my property when AMI is owned by IAG?
AMI remains committed  to continue insuring our Canterbury customers.
Can I still make a claim?
Yes - The claims process will remain unchanged. You will contact AMI in the normal way, via one of our Branches, by phone or by mailing a claims form to lodge your claim. If the purchase process is completed, you claim will be managed by AMI, a company owned by IAG.
Will my policy be renewed?
Yes, all policies will continue to renew on their annual renewal date.
Who do I contact – AMI or the separate government-owned earthquake claims company?
At this time please continue to contact us on 0800 100 200 for all your insurance needs.  If you have an earthquake claim with AMI please continue to use the direct dial POD phone number provided to you until otherwise advised.
If there was another earthquake or other natural disaster, would claims be referred to the separate government owned earthquake claims company or handled by AMI?
If there is an earthquake after settlement date, all claims will be referred to the insurer in the normal way. Up to that time, the Government backed earthquake company will be responsible for the management of earthquake claims.
Who will own the separate government owned earthquake claims company?
The Government will own the Canterbury earthquake claims company, including the existing earthquake reinsurance receivables associated with those claims.
 What about the earthquake claim I have already lodged?
You won’t even notice the transition to the separate government-owned earthquake claims company. Your claim will continue to be processed by the same people who are working on it now.
Will the separate government owned earthquake claims company have any income?
It will draw on Government provided capital to settle earthquake claims and will not generate any income from policyholders.
What happens if it runs out of cash and there are still earthquake claims to settle?
Based on the estimated claims cost and assuming the sale is completed, it is not currently expected that further Crown support will be required beyond the amounts already provided. However, if necessary the Government will contribute extra cash to settle every valid claim.
Do all the current rights of policyholders continue when the company is split?
All AMI current policies continue in force as before and can only be varied by agreement with the policyholder. 
More information is available on the AMI website here.

Holy Trinity Avonside - Christingle Service

Holy Trinity Avonside is holding a children's service, a traditional telling of the birth of Christ, at 4.00pm Sunday the 18th (this Sunday).

All are invited to take part and children are invited to dress as angles, shepherds, animals or kings. There will be a barbecue afterwards.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Is this depression?

The Ministry of Health have a website called Depression.

Featuring John Kirwan, the website is designed to help people analyse how they feel and what they are going through, and determine if they are experiencing depression.

From the website:
Most people feel miserable now and then, often when something upsetting or stressful is happening such as a relationship break-up, or losing a job. Feeling down in response to difficult situations is pretty normal, and usually the feelings fade over time and you get on with life. But when the feelings of unhappiness are intense and persistent - and they don’t go away even when things improve - this could be depression.
Those who want to can take a short on-line questionnaire and then join John Kirwan's programme. There are pages of explanations, techniques for finding a way through and a guide to staying well.

Equally important, there is information on how to help others and links to resources. 

The website is here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Land stability in the inner city - Tonkin & Taylor report

The city council has released Tonkin & Taylor's interpretative report on the central city (land within the Four Avenues - Fitzgerald, Moorhouse, Deans & Harper, Bealey - but excluding Hagley Park). A copy of the report can be downloaded from here.

The following are from the report's executive summary:
No areas within the CBD or adjacent commercial areas were identified as having ground conditions that would preclude rebuilding on those sites, although more robust foundation design and/or ground improvement may be required. The risks of lateral spreading adjacent to some sections of the Avon River will require detailed geotechnical assessments, however, the adoption of a minimum 30m set-back required for creation of the Avon River Park will likely preclude the worst affected areas from future development.
Christchurch is not unique in being located on soils susceptible to liquefaction within a seismically active region. There are a number of cities and large urban centres around the world (including Wellington on the North Island), where the level of seismic hazard is similar to or greater than that at Christchurch. Presuming that it is economically feasible to utilise appropriate foundation / ground improvement systems, there are few sites that would be considered unsuitable for development purely on the basis of a liquefaction hazard.
The following are a few extracts from the body of the report. While repeated here out of context, they may help understand the complexity of the geology of parts of the inner city.
It is important to appreciate that, whilst the presence of sand boils is a confirmation that liquefaction has occurred, the absence of sand boils or other ground disturbance does not mean that liquefaction has not occurred beneath the surface. The extensive coverage of land within the central city by large footprint buildings and thick pavements may have prevented significant formation of sand boils. Additionally, there are many locations within the central city where a relatively thick crust of non-liquefiable materials may have prevented surface expression of liquefaction. (pp 46-7)
The change in ground elevation since 04 September 2010 (inferred from the LiDAR data and taking account of likely regional tectonic uplift/subsidence), suggests that ground deformation has occurred in areas where little or no land damage was observed. (p 47)
The analyses indicate that a liquefaction hazard is present across virtually the whole of the CBD and adjoining commercial areas, and is not limited to those locations where liquefaction-induced land damage has been observed (i.e. suggesting that area wide deep liquefaction is likely to have occurred). This observation is considered generally consistent with the LiDAR data which suggests settlement may have occurred in some areas where no land damage has been mapped at the ground surface. (p 51)
It should be recognised that, apart from a few localised areas, the overall impact of liquefaction and lateral spreading on the central city resulting from the recent seismic events, has not been as severe as that which has occurred in many of the eastern suburbs and Kaiapoi. This is considered to be due to a combination of the generally better ground conditions present, greater land coverage from buildings and heavy pavements, lower groundwater levels and more substantial foundations. (p 56)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

News from Nowhere

Good news helps raise the spirits, especially if there is an element of humour in it.

Leanne Curtis of CanCERN fame, and formerly of the Avonside Red Zone, has moved out into the middle of nowhere near Waikuku Beach. Here is her latest report of life way out there.

Our move to Waikuku Beach has been great and I know it's not always easy to hear the good news stories when you are still stuck in the thick of it but I tell it because we need to know there is a future after the Red Zone and it can be a great one. Below is a summary of the first two weeks.

We have officially moved out to the wop wops - no internet access until a port becomes available (what?) and very limited cell phone access unless you put the phone onto speaker, leave it in the perfect place on the kitchen bench and shout at it. So we are satisfyingly disconnected from the social media world and that is all good from where we sit.

We thought the garden was pretty cool when we bought the house but now that we are slowly whacking away three years of growth, we are realising the garden is amazing. The whole place is being transformed and I'm not even a gardener!. The wind doesn't even begin to think it can enter our property such was the brilliant designer who made the extensions. We now have four carparks instead of two after Andrew took the weedeater to the driveway. It is truly a haven of peace and calm (unless the kids are there) and we couldn't think of a better place to recover from earthquake sh*t.

There were three gorgeous wee ducklings and parent ducks running around the backyard when we arrived and a not so gorgeous hen and baby chick. Some bastardly dog (not ours) put paid to the ducklings so we are almost bird free. Andrew is eying up the chicken to see how far it will go in a stirfry. Our dog is in seventh heaven swimming in the river, chasing rabbits and rolling in dead things. The cats have all lost weight and have become pro stalkers even though they have developed a healthy respect for the ducks. The kids are mostly gone from the house and when we asked if they wanted a trampoline for Xmas which we have been meaning to buy for about 5 years they told us it would be a waste of time because there's  too much to do - LOVE IT!!!

The drive in and out is not too annoying yet although we have to look for other people's houses to visit if we have a bit of spare time between city events. So if we casually drop in for a coffee, be kind to us and don't feel used. We chose you because you were special!

I think the coolest part of the shift is the school the boys will start at next year. The Principal wants to market is as the 'anti-safe school - we run with scissors'. I love that and it is going to be the making of Louis. He's into managing risk, they have a hedge with a magical labyrinth in it and guess what - the kids are allowed to play in it (just like the old days). They have a deal going that any kid who can do a lap of the netball court on the unicycle gets morning tea shouted from the Principal. Louis told him he could buy him lunch if he mastered it in less time and although he was told he would bleed trying, he's gearing up to the challenge. The school is designed for boys (bullrush included) and it is going to be great. It almost makes me want to go back teaching.

So that's a wee sum up of what's happening in Waikuku. We're happy to be there, happy to explore and happy to feel like we're living at the bach. Xmas will be happier for being out there and for that we're thankful.

I hope you're all well and getting into the Xmas spirit.

Four more new geotech factual reports

EQC have released four more T&T geotechnical factual reports. These reports cover:
  • St Albans
  • Waimairi/Queens Park
  • Wainoni
  • Waltham
These, and the previously released reports, can be found here.

To repeat what was said in previous posts: much of the material is impenetrable to the normal mind but may have some useful background and summary information in the main part. The appendices have the bulk of the technical stuff. Appendix A defines the area under investigation, shows where the testing took place and what sort of testing it was. The other appendices vary in content and intelligibility.

The full list of releases is now:
  1. Aranui
  2. Avondale
  3. Hillsborough
  4. Hoon Hay
  5. North New Brighton
  6. Opawa
  7. Papanui
  8. Somerfield
  9. Spreydon
  10. St Albans
  11. Sydenham
  12. Waimairi/Queens Park
  13. Wainoni
  14. Waltham

Monday, 12 December 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - building fatalities hearing

The Royal Commission has commenced hearings on the buildings (other than CTV and PGC) that caused fatalities.

The following is an extract from the opening submission by Mark Zarifeh, one of the counsel assisting the Royal Commission. The full 4 page submission can be downloaded from here.
The fact that over 80% of the deaths caused by these building failures were in relation to people outside the buildings - in the main, pedestrians and motorists -highlights that the issue of what we are to do about URM buildings is a very real community problem.
It also graphically highlights the futility of a Territorial Authority or Local Council having a passive earthquake prone policy and the need to urgently implement policies throughout New Zealand to, at the very least, address the potential dangers these buildings pose from collapsing facades, walls and parapets.
These hearings will also address other issues raised by the Royal Commission's Terms of Reference including:
  • The inspection and assessment of buildings following a large earthquake - in this case the September 2010 earthquake.
  • In particular the unreinforced masonry building failures highlight the need to look closely at the way these buildings are assessed and the need to take into account the potential for collapse in a significant aftershock.
  • Another issue that will come through in some of these hearings is the issue of cordons in front of a damaged building following a significant earthquake. In particular the need to ensure the placement of such cordons provides protection of the public by blocking, off footpaths or, if necessary, roads in the event of a significant aftershock.
  • Another important issue some of these hearings will address is the strengthening or retrofitting of unreinforced masonry buildings and the need for retrofit or strengthening measures to be able to provide effective protection and not fail in a significant earthquake.
  • An issue of communication will also be addressed. The importance of communication of potential dangers posed by a building after a significant earthquake to relevant authorities and to potentially affected neighbouring properties.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Updated guidance for the repair and reconstruction of homes in Canterbury published

The Department of Building and Housing (DBH) today released a publication Updated guidance for the repair and reconstruction of homes in Canterbury. A PDF copy can be found here. It is an update of a document released in December 2010.

Time will be needed to identify exactly what the changes mean for property owners. From a very quick skim through it appears that, in addition to new material on foundations (both building and patching them), the criteria in this amended document are "less onerous" than in the original version.

As a technical document it outlines what procedures are considered appropriate for various types of houses, the structural damage incurred, and the land category. While it describes what is permitted and recommended, one extremely important issue is only briefly addressed: the obligations of the insurer (EQC or a private insurance company) towards the policy holder.

Irrespective of what DBH may specify as suitable and satisfactory practices and solutions, they can only be applied if they meet the insurers obligations to the property owner. As a minimum these approaches can only be applied if they restore the property (house and foundations) to at least the condition it was in on the 3rd of September 2010. A "less onerous" solution may fall short of meeting this requirement e.g patching something that has cracked or broken is not the same as restoration or like new. 

One area where this tension may arise involves concrete slab foundations in TC1 and TC2 areas (TC3 properties will require site specific investigations).  A particularly common problem with new houses has been cracking of the foundation slab. An economical solution would be to repair these foundations where ever possible. This is addressed in Appendix 4 of the publication.

Research has been carried out overseas on the use of resins and grouts to repair cracks caused by slab shrinkage. The DBH has investigated these solutions and outlines how they could be applied in Christchurch to fix cracks varying between 1 and 50 millimetres or more.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Canterbury Affordable Sections

Canterbury Affordable Sections is an organisation established to:
... facilitate and provide governance for the development of a series of affordable section development projects for Red Zone home owners.
The intention is to identify suitable land that can be subdivided and sold in the range of $90,000 to $120,000 and still be close to the city. You can find more on their website here.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Cardboard Cathedral - to be considered at a council meeting today

The agenda for today's council meeting includes an item (number 55) to consider a location and financial support for the Cardboard Cathedral. Council staff have prepared a report for council accompanied by a recommendation.

The recommendation of council staff is:
It is recommended that the Council:
(a) Decline the request from the ChristChurch Cathedral Diocese for the Council to make available council owned/held land for a temporary cathedral (the proposed “Cardboard Cathedral”).
(b) Resolve not to provide any financial assistance towards the establishment of a temporary cathedral.
It seems ironic that council are keen to have a say on rebuilding the Cathedral yet wish to do nothing to provide interim support. The council meeting agenda is available here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

EQC - changes to urgent repairs process

EQC have announced that from the 1st of January the procedure for having urgent repairs made will be changed. Until now homeowners have been able to authorise their own repairs up to $2,000. From the 1st anyone with urgent repairs MUST contact EQC who will arrange for the work to be done.

From the EQC website:
Urgent repairs are those which ensure the house is safe to live in, secure, sanitary and weather resistant.
However, Mr Emson says with EQC completing assessments and well underway in repairing about 100,000 Canterbury homes, it needs to be able to better manage the repair workload, and customers will now be required to contact EQC to get the work done.
“Emergency repairs will be managed as the highest priority.
“Specialist EQC support staff will assess requests, and where the house in unsafe, insecure unsanitary or not adequately keeping out the weather, we will send someone in to do the work straight away.
“If they can wait, the repairs will be managed as part of the overall repairs.
The EQC media release is here

If you think your house needs urgent repairs call EQC on 0800 326 243

EQC's call centre holiday hours are:
  • Tuesday 27 - Saturday 31 December from 7am - 10pm.
  • Tuesday 3 - Saturday 8 January from 7am - 10pm.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

New central library - complete with free internet and WiFi

Christchurch City Libraries have announced the opening on Monday the 19th of December of Central Library Peterborough. Located at 87-91 Peterborough Street (near Colombo street) it is what was the former VBase offices and store. The hours will be Monday to Friday 9am-6pm and weekends from 10am-5pm.

For those who rely on the library for internet access this will be available, as will free WiFi.

From the library announcement:

What will be at Central Library Peterborough?
  • The temporary library will have a collection of more than 70,000 items, including books, magazines, CDs and DVDs.
  • Family history resources and microfilm newspapers will be available. The Nga Pounamu Maori and the Ngai Tahu collections are also included.
  • The collection features books, a range of new magazines, world language material, music CDs, DVDs, talking books and newspapers. It will cater for all ages.
  • Most of the collection is stock from the Central Library in Gloucester Street. This includes new items, and stock that was in circulation at the time of the February earthquake and has since been returned.
Technology at Central Library Peterborough
  • There will be 22 free computers offering free internet access. Free Wifi will also be available. Printing, copying and scanning facilities will also be on offer.
  • The library will open with new technology, which is being introduced to libraries across Christchurch. New service kiosks will make it possible for customers to issue and return the items they have loaned. Staff will work alongside customers, making it as easy as possible for them to use the new equipment.
Services include
  • Public toilets in the library, including disabled access
  • Baby change facilities
  • Parking outside the library for library customers, including disabled access Printing and photocopying Library computers
  • Scan to USB
  • Services available at all Christchurch City Libraries
  • Christchurch City Libraries events calendar
  • Free wireless internet access
Full details are here.

Private sector investment for failing schools in central and eastern Christchurch.

The Press this morning has an article on National implementing an ACT policy whereby schools that are failing can access private sector investment.

From the Press online
Failing schools in central and eastern Christchurch will be amongst the nation's first to allow private investment, it emerged yesterday.
A newly-agreed ACT-National coalition deal will allow private investment in failing schools and introduce a cap on government spending.
Under the deal announced yesterday, community, religious or ethnic groups, or private companies, will be allowed to operate state-funded "charter" schools.
The full article is here.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Orange Zone meeting - Friday night

CERA hosted an Avonside Orange Zone meeting in the Wainoni Scout Hall last night. For those who weren't able to attend here is a very brief report:
  • there were no new announcements
  • a major reason for the delay in rezoning our area is the complexity and variability of the underlying geology. Our part of Avonside has been the most complex of all the areas affected by the earthquake. 
  • the geotechnical work has been completed and the zoning decision process now rests with those who look at the aspects of cost and timeliness. After that it goes to Cabinet.
  • CERA are open to improving communications and are willing to have more meetings.
  • CERA will try to give advance notice of major announcements.
Timing of the rezoning announcement is crucial. The period around Christmas and New Year is not a good time for people to receive critically important news (especially if on holiday). Whichever way the decision goes there will be some who will suffer and, with support and information services closing down, there may be no one to call for help or advice. This point was made to one of the CERA reps and to MP Nicky Wagner. While neither can influence Cabinet's timing of the release, they may be able to bring it to the attention of others who can (which Nicky has undertaken to do).

Friday, 2 December 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - management of earthquake risk by CRC and CCC

The Royal Commission commissioned a report to look into how well both the Canterbury Regional Council and the Christchurch City Council managed earthquake risk through their respective planning processes.

From the Royal Commission's website:
The technical report Management of Earthquake Risk by Canterbury Regional Council and Christchurch City Council - Obligations and Responses under RMA was commissioned by the Commission. The purpose of the report is to investigate the manner in which issues of earthquake risk have been dealt with in the relevant planning documents of the Canterbury Regional Council (“Environment Canterbury”) and the Christchurch City Council (“the City Council”). This includes an analysis of the councils’ obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 (“the RMA”), and the various steps that the councils have taken in carrying out those obligations.
The report is here.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Basilica Update

Recently put on the web is the November edition of the Cathedral Update. It contains a brief description  of the structural damage, photographs from inside the building, and a list of heritage items recovered so far.

It can be found here.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Roger Sutton - assurances of community consultation over Residential Red Zone demolitions

Roger Sutton's update for the 30th of November 2011 includes the following regarding Residential Red Zone house demolitions:
Demolitions of houses in the residential red zone are not due to start until next year. We are working with insurers, Councils, support services and community groups to ensure that this work is coordinated and that there is minimum disruption to adjacent home owners.  We will continue to work with the home owners and communities as this work begins and will keep the public updated on progress.
In my mind this creates the expectation that our community will be consulted before demolitions start in February, and also during and afterwards. So far there has been no contact.

Whichever way our Orange Zone goes, and for those who are already Red or Green, there will be issues of importance to us not only around the demolition processes themselves, but also the short and medium term effects on health, well being, and the environment.

The full update is here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Visit to the CERA hub at Avondale

The first thing you need to do before visiting is ring up to make an appointment. We shot over last week as soon as an EQC issue arose only to find no one from EQC could see us - they were all busy. An appointment was sorted and I made a visit to the Avondale hub this morning as part of the saga of trying to sort out the EQC issues.

It was an interesting experience. The space provided is not big and there are a lot of staff and desks in a small space. Having dutifully arrived at least 5 minutes early there was time to fill in a form with claim numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and other statistical information.

At the appointed time one of the EQC people came up, introduced himself to me, and we went and sat at his desk. If you are a private person you may want to ring ahead to arrange something different, as the cramped conditions mean there there is a certain intimacy and mingling of conversations.

One by one we went through the issues and, for the first time, it felt like progress was being made. Only one issue was sorted, a repairs refund that had become stuck in an EQC backwater, but the others raised were explained satisfactorily. What made the difference was Paul, the real person at the desk.

Some things are not going to go anywhere fast, however he was able to explain why they hadn't happened, how the issues were inter-linked, and how external factors were affecting progress. We didn't talk about the hard things such as our perception that the EQC scope of works was grossly inadequate, but then it wasn't something he could fix so why waste his and my breath on it? At the end of the appointment it felt like time well spent - some of what I wanted remained unknown, but there was a satisfactory and sincere explanation.

Congratulations to those who pushed for a CERA hub and to CERA for making it work. There is nothing like dealing face to face with a human being for making progress. I recommend it, and we may try it out with our insurance company in a couple of weeks.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) building

The Earthquake Royal Commission today started a public hearing to consider all issues relevant to the failure of the Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) building.

Information, technical and historical reports presented today are available on-line in the Commission's document library here. Also available are statements and briefs of evidence from people caught up in the collapse of the building, and those otherwise involved.

Information about the Commission's PGC hearing programme is available here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

More new geotech factual reports

EQC have released four more T&T geotechnical factual reports for some parts of the city. These reports cover:
  • Avondale
  • Opawa
  • Papanui
  • Spreydon
These, and the previously released reports, can be found here. 

To repeat what was said earlier: much of the material is impenetrable to the normal mind but may have some useful background and summary information in the main part. The appendices have the bulk of the technical stuff. Appendix A defines the area under investigation, shows where the testing took place and what sort of testing it was. The other appendices vary in content and intelligibility.

The full list of releases is now:

  • Aranui
  • Avondale
  • Hillsborough
  • Hoon Hay
  • North New Brighton
  • Opawa
  • Papanui
  • Somerfield
  • Spreydon
  • Sydenham

Cathedral Square walking tours

CERA are opening up a walkway to allow limited numbers of people to go through Cathedral Square and see what has been happening.

The walkway is open on weekends only, between 9.00am and 8.00pm, until the 11th of December. Groups of no more than 300 per hour will be allowed onto the walkway and for a maximum of 50 mins at a time. Tours will start every hour, on the hour. Very stringent safety conditions will be in place, however hi-vis clothing and helmets are not required. Solid footwear is essential.

Information about the walkway is on the CERA page here. At the bottom of the page is a 10 minute video showing what will be seen by those taking the tour.

Central City Plan - update

The CCC yesterday provided an update on progress with the Central City Plan. It is currently being amended for presentation to council on the 15th of December.

The status of the plan, the draft plan itself, and the technical appendices that will accompany it can be found here. The appendices that can be downloaded are:

Appendix A  Public Consultation Summary
Appendix B  Central City Plan consultation phase key stakeholder briefings summary
Appendix B  Central City Plan Stakeholder meetings Summary May - July 2011 UPDATE
Appendix C  Remembering Christchurch Presentation
Appendix E  Population Forecasts and Demographics
Appendix F  Demand Analysis
Appendix G  Study of Trends for New 4 to 8 Level Buildings in Christchurch CB
Appendix G  CCC-Feasibility.gslm-61 22.Oct 11
Appendix H  Character Descriptions of Areas
Appendix I  Retail Peer Review
Appendix J  Tourism Strategy Peer Review
Appendix K  CCP Community wellbeing framework
Appendix L  Central_City_Plan_Integrated Wellbeing and Sustainability Assessment
Appendix N  Transport Choice Traffic Analysis
Appendix O  Transport Choice Public Transport
Appendix P  Parking Analysis
Appendix R  Colour Coded Status of Group 12 Listed buildings 2011-11-15

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Ansvar Insurance pulling out of New Zealand

The following is from the Ansvar website. More detail is available from their website here.
As a result of the Canterbury earthquakes, Ansvar Insurance Limited (Ansvar New Zealand) is regretfully ceasing to provide insurance cover in New Zealand and will undertake a managed withdrawal from the market.
We have begun notifying our New Zealand customers about what this means for them. We are committed to supporting our policyholders to the fullest extent possible through this process. We are seeking to implement arrangements with other insurance companies to provide replacement interim or permanent cover for most of our customers.
In addition, we remain focused on continuing to provide a quality claims service until all claims are settled.
Andrew Moon, Chief Executive Officer
Why has Ansvar made this decision?
This is a result of the prohibitive cost of reinsurance following the devastating series of earthquakes in Canterbury in 2010 and 2011.
I am an Ansvar policy holder, what does this mean for me?
You will receive detailed information by post about what this means for you shortly. However, we are arranging replacement interim or permanent cover for most of our customers.
I have a current claim with Ansvar, how will I be affected?
If you have a claim with Ansvar it will not be affected by this decision. We will continue to manage claims until they are settled.
Can I still make new claims?
Yes. (see the website)
Can I still pay my premium online?
Yes. (see the website)
Contact us: 0800 123 344

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Home Building Guide

For those who are amongst the many thousands of rebuilds in Christchurch, getting to grips with the building process is likely to be an enormous issue.

While nearly all these houses will be rebuilt courtesy of our insurance companies, it is important to have a head full of ideas when meeting with claims managers and project managers. If you don't know, you can't ask, so some background reading is essential.

The website covers a great deal of this information in an easy to read format. Better still they have put out a 82 page A4 size magazine that covers all the building phases from conception through to completion with a great deal of effort put into discussing design and materials plus the legal processes and requirements. Even the advertising is worth careful study as the ideas and products spark off all sorts of thoughts!

The booklet is called BUILDING GUIDE: your step-by-step guide to better home building. Shirley Library had a few copies today, and I would assume most libraries will have them. If not, you can request a copy (they are free) by going to the Building Guide website here and filling in your details.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Land information - the CERA database

CERA have a database that is to be central to all Red Zone legal transactions. Referred to as the CERA settlements database (part of Project Orbit) it is available to lawyers acting for Red Zone residents. The CERA web page Information for lawyers mentions it here.

However it seems the database may hold much more than just information about property transactions. The Department of Building and Housing (see reference below) describe it as having a use in Green Zone areas:
Insurers, their Project Management Organisations (PMO’s), Building Consent Authorities, designers and builders will have access to the Canterbury Recovery Orbit website, as necessary. This will enable access to Technical Category and existing geotechnical information specific to the site, provide a means to enter geotechnical data collected and facilitate building consent applications. 
It seems likely the databases mentioned by CERA and the Department of Building and Housing are facets of the same thing.

As CERA is gathering and storing geotech and other information at the individual property level, it should be available to residents as well as those on the other side of negotiations. Useful also to those wishing to challenge zonings, or at least to better understand them.

The DBH quote is from: P5, Sec. 3.1. Preview of the update to: Guidance on house repairs and reconstruction following the Canterbury Earthquakes, on the Department's website here:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Vero CEO on disaster insurance in New Zealand

Australian insurance website reports on an address by NZ Vero CEO Gary Dransfield given to the Trans Tasman Business Circle in Auckland last week. The full report is here.

Amongst the issues raised by Dransfield was the need for EQC to continue in an expanded role with greater capital behind it. One expansion would be to provide some level of insurance support for commercial properties. Another would be as a buyer of reinsurance for local underwriters (the Pharmac of the insurance industry?).

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Barbecue at Avonside Girls High School - with photos

Arrow, project managers for the work at the School, and the Ministry of Education hosted a barbecue this morning to which local residents were invited. It was an opportunity to see how much work had been done so far. Demolition work is almost complete and the original batch of relocatable classrooms are being prepared.

There are to be up to 25 more relocatable classrooms put on the site as the Jobberns and Gresson blocks do not meet the new earthquake standards and cannot be fixed in time for a term one opening next year. Most of the additional relocatable classrooms are to be built on site, but a few will be trucked in. The extra classrooms will provide staff facilities, science rooms, and a toilet block.

Click the link for photographs

Friday, 18 November 2011

Red Cross - Independent advice grant for vulnerable homeowners

The Red Cross have announced a grant for vulnerable homeowners who live in the Red Zone, or have repairs in excess of $100,000. The following is from the Red Cross website:
(a grant of) up to maximum of $750 per household to assist vulnerable homeowners with obtaining assistance on what to do with their earthquake damaged property.

The grant is aimed at assisting vulnerable people whose property has been assessed at costing over $100,000 to repair and/or their land has been zoned red. A vulnerable person can be defined as the applicant or a member of their household must either be disabled/have a pre-existing medical condition, or be over 65 yrs or have children who live with them who are under 18 years.
Full information and an application form can be found here.

Roger Sutton - Explaining the Green Zone categories

Roger Sutton will be on Maori TV at 1.30 on Saturday explaining the new Green Zone technical categories.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

CERA: zoning changes and updated Zone's map

CERA have updated their Zones map to take into account today's announcements. You will find it here.

The text of the announcements are here for residential properties, and here for non-residential properties.

The reasons for the decisions aren't known as the relevant Cabinet Papers have yet to appear on the CERA website.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Earthquake Royal Commission - Peer review of the Department of Building and Housing technical investigation reports

The Earthquake Royal Commission has received a peer review of the Department of Building and Housing's technical and investigation reports.

From the Royal Commission's website:
This report by William Holmes of Rutherford & Chekene consulting engineers in San Francisco peer reviews the following Department of Building and Housing technical investigation reports:
  • Structural Performance of Christchurch CBD Buildings in the 22 February Aftershock: Stage 1 Expert Panel Report dated 30 September 2011 (DBH Expert Panel);
  • Investigation into the Collapse of the Pyne Gould Corporation Building on 22nd February 2011 dated 26 September 2011 (Beca);
  • Report on the Structural Performance of the Hotel Grand Chancellor in the Earthquake of 22 February 2011 dated 26 September 2011 (Dunning Thornton Consultants Ltd);
  • Investigation into the Collapse of the Forsyth Barr Building Stairs on 22nd February 2011 dated 26 September 2011 (Beca)
The 13 page review (here) discusses the approach taken to preparing the reports, raises minor problems arising from presentation, and comments on some of the recommendations made. A couple of selected points:
  • For the PG building there is a discussion on page 6 of what might have been the critical structural weaknesses (CSW) that lead to collapse.
  • the goal of the program for earthquake prone buildings should be clearly identified before assessment guidelines are revised - will it apply only to the worst of the worst buildings, or to a wider range?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Insurance Ombudsman - information updates for residential and small business policy holders

The Insurance and Savings Ombudsman's office has produced consumer information sheets for earthquake claimants who have residential or small business policies. These sheets, along with a lot of others, are here.

More Green Zone information

CERA have added a new page to their website that brings together existing material on the three categories of Green along with information about the TC3 (Green-Blue) meetings to be held this week and next. The page is here.

The meetings from tomorrow on are:
Wednesday 16 November
For Parklands residents held at Parklands Baptist Church from 3-5pm
For St Albans / Richmond residents held at St Albans Baptist Church from 6.30-8.30pm
Thursday 17 November
For Woolston residents held at Woolston Working Men's Club from 11am-1pm
For Aranui residents held at Chisnallwood Intermediate from 6.30-8.30pm
Friday 18 November
For St Albans / Richmond residents held at St Albans Working Mens Club from 2.30-4.30pm
For Kaiapoi residents held at Kaiapoi North Primary School from 6.30-8.30pm
Monday 21 November
For Parklands residents held at Parklands Baptist Church from 2-4pm
For St Albans / Richmond held at St Albans Baptist Church from 6.30-8.30pm
Tuesday 22 November
For Bishopdale residents held at Belfast Rugby Club Rooms from 6.30-8.30pm
For Halswell residents held at Oaklands School from 6.30-8.30pm
Wednesday 23 November
For Aranui residents held at Chisnallwood Intermediate from 1-3pm
For Southshore residents held at Roy Stokes Hall from 6.30-8.30pm
Thursday 24 November
For Spencerville / Brooklands residents held at Brooklands Community Centre from 6.30-8.30pm
Friday 25 November
For Parklands residents held at Parklands Baptist Church from 2-4pm
For Parklands residents held at Parklands Baptist Church from 6.30-8.30pm
Monday 28 November
For Redcliffs residents held at Sumner Old School Hall from 6.30-8.30pm

Monday, 14 November 2011

Blog hack warning

Problem fixed - blog has been moved to for hosting

The companion version of this blog www.avonsideblog has been hacked and has a redirect to a site in Russia!

The folk who host the blog are looking at getting it back. In the meantime stay away.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Green/Blue TC3 zone meetings starting tomorrow

There seems to be a significant communications issue over CERA community meetings for those who are living on TC3 land.

Apparently the meetings aimed at those living in this area start tomorrow (Monday), and are scheduled for locations in Hagley Park and St Albans. The CERA website makes no mention of them, nor do their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

The following is from a newsletter put out by MP Brendon Burns:
Ø Monday, November 14: 1.00-3.00pm: Geodome Hagley Park
Ø Tuesday, November 15: 6.30-8.30pm: Geodome Hagley Park
Ø Wednesday, November 16: 6.30-830pm: St Albans Baptist Church (McFaddens Rd)
Ø Friday, November 18: 2.30-4.30pm: St Albans Working Men's Club (Hills Rd)
Ø Monday, November 21: 6.30-8.30pm: St Albans Baptist Church
Maybe CERA should run their 0800 number 7 days a week. This would help when things seem to have gone wrong, and especially when news releases are issued immediately prior to a weekend.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Major road works on Woodham Road

Major infrastructure work (sewer renewal) along Woodham Road will begin on Monday morning (14th) and is expected to finish within 4 months. The map below shows the extent of the work that will be done. The first phase starts at Tancred street and heads east. 

From the Infrastructure Rebuild website:
Full traffic management will be in place as detailed below.
  • This work will start Monday 14 November.  We will be working Monday to Friday between the hours of 7am to 5pm, and on Saturdays between the hours of 7am to 3pm. On rare occasions we may have to work on a Sunday to complete essential work.
  • We expect the work to take about four months to complete, subject to favourable weather and on-site conditions.
  • This first phase of works will commence between Gloucester Street and Tancred Street, and extend east to the Ngarimu Street / Woodham Road intersection. 
  • This work will impact on traffic movements.  The following traffic management will be in place:
    • One-way east-bound traffic will be maintained along Woodham Road throughout this phase of the works. Please take care when exiting your property to ensure you travel in the correct direction.
    • Between Gloucester Street and Tancred Street, the west-bound traffic lane along Woodham Road will be closed.  A detour route via Gloucester Street and Linwood Avenue will be sign posted.
    • When the work site is extended east to Ngarimu Street, west-bound traffic will be detoured via Worcester Street, Surrey Street, and Gloucester Street to Linwood Avenue.
    • Provision will be made for parking and access to the doctor’s surgery on the Gloucester Street / Woodham Road intersection.
    • On-street parking will not be available in the vicinity of the works to maintain a safe traffic lane.
    • Full signage will clearly indicate detours.
• An update notice explaining progress with the works towards Avonside Drive, and further traffic detours, will be circulated early in 2012.

 Full details are available on the Infrastructure Rebuild website here.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

New geotech factual reports

EQC have released T&T geotechnical factual reports for some parts of the city. The full list of releases is:
  • Aranui
  • Hillsborough
  • Hoon Hay
  • North New Brighton
  • Somerfield
  • Sydenham
The reports can be found here.

Much of the material is impenetrable to the normal mind but may have some useful background and summary information in the main part. The appendices have the bulk of the technical stuff. Appendix A defines the area under investigation, shows where the testing took place and what sort of testing it was. The other appendices vary in content and intelligibility.

Prior to February 22 the significance of the release of the Factual Reports meant that the Interpretative reports weren't too far away. This still isn't street or property level detail but, in the past, was a reasoned analysis of the wider area.

Earthquake Royal Commission - Local authority responses to the Commission's request for information

In October the Earthquake Royal Commission wrote to local authorities throughout the country and requested information regarding the following questions:
Has your Council taken any steps to review any aspect of its earthquake prone building policy since the Canterbury earthquake?
If your Council has taken steps in relation to its Earthquake Prone Policy since the Canterbury Earthquakes, or intends to do so, please advise to what extend your Council has or intend to consult with the following groups: Property Owners, Tenants, The community generally.
The Royal Commission would also like to receive any information you may have, bearing on whether insurers are taking a more demanding approach to the earthquake strengthening of existing building following the Canterbury Earthquakes.
The responses from a large number of local authorities have been released on the Commission's website here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Chlorine to go from the water

The Council has announced that chlorine will be progressively removed from the water supply and should be completely gone by early December. The media release is here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Would you want to buy AMI?

On insurance website there is an article looking at whether buying AMI would be a good idea. There is no conclusive answer, but the discussion is thorough.

One fact that seems to have escaped both the writer and the critics of AMI relates to the concentration of insurance in Christchurch. While criticising AMI of having too much exposure in Christchurch, no mention is made of the history of AMI and how, as SIMU (South Island Motor Union), it had been based in Christchurch with major local support for many decades.

The article is here.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Avonside Holy Trinity - all gone

On Wednesday the last of the rubble was removed from the site of Holy Trinity Avonside. Apart from some protection to the columbarium the fences are gone and the whole place open again. On the south side of where the church once was are graves that haven't seen the sun for many decades. For now they are basking in daylight and surrounded by exuberant shrubs, flowers and grasses. Nothing like an old overgrown cemetery to feel the age of a place.

A church has been on this site since 1857, longer than there has been a cathedral in the Square. The land in Avonside (named after the church - Avonside Holy Trinity) is one of the oldest areas of settlement in Christchurch. One of the first rural areas (!) in Canterbury it became the second suburb to the city after Heathcote. Just as the inner city is losing most of its heritage buildings, Christchurch is also losing almost the entirety of one of its heritage suburbs.

In all the discussion and noise about iconic buildings in the city centre, somehow the crowd has forgotten that Avonside is an iconic suburb. Incorporating houses ranging in age from more than 100 years, to just a few years, there is a parade of styles that well illustrates how house designs changed in the pre-earthquake lifetime of Christchurch. From a modern gated community, through infill housing and the kiwiana quarter acre section the suburb has the lot. There was a cottage school that became Avonside Girls High School, and some streets of social housing that accommodated those who couldn't afford the kiwi dream. There is even a kitset house shipped out from Britain in 1906.

Not much is likely to remain by the time the deconstructors are finished, and something tangible needs to stay. It seems imperative to keep the Church here, an anchor for those who experience the Red Zone turmoil, and for those who remain. Holy Trinity Avonside has been a help in the aftermath and probably more relevant and needed than it has been for a long time. That at least should be protected.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Real estate agents and their tricks

Back on the 28th of October the New Zealand Herald printed an article, Real estate agent tricks to watch out for, by Diana Clement.

The theme of article is summarised in the 3rd paragraph:
The majority of real estate agents do a good job and earn a fair income overall. Choosing the wrong agent, however, could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars - either through unnecessary commissions or jiggery pokery which ensures you sell for too little or pay too much.
and then goes on to cover the misconduct and disciplinary issues that have arisen in the real estate industry and how the occasional rogue agent keeps popping up. Some of the inappropriate practices are also mentioned:
Other common tricks agents play, which aren't necessarily in the best interest of the vendor or buyer, include:
  • Pushing vendors to pay for advertising they don't need in order to market the agency, not the property. Some agents take a cut from this advertising as well.
  • Quoting unrealistic prices in the hope of grabbing the business and then conditioning the vendor down.
  • Citing ranges of pricing to buyers that are lower than the vendor will accept in order to lure in buyers or condition down sellers.
  • Failing to disclose that the agent is either selling or buying the property personally or on behalf of a close relative.
The article is a very good read and can be found here.

If you want to find out whether an agent has been the subject of a complaint in the past, or are curious about the things your local agents get up to, go to the Real Estate Agents Authority (a government agency) website here. The link to the database of complaints is here and you can search by the agents name or location (e.g. a search on Christchurch will bring up all complaints recorded against Christchurch real estate agents). Clicking on the case number will provide you with lots of details including a link to the decision.

Video bus tour through the inner city Red Zone

For those unable to take a trip on the bus tours through the city's Red Zone, CERA have produced a video of one of the bus trips (31 minutes long). Narrated by Warwick Issacs, CERA's general manager of demolitions, it describes the scene as the bus travels along.

If you are able to take a bus tour there is an audio commentary to download and listen to while travelling on the bus.

Both of these are available on the CERA website here.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

ChristChurch Cathedral update

There are two new updates concerning the Cathedral.

The Church has released information about the state of the building, the planned deconsecration, and the subsequent partial demolition. This news release is available from the Cathedral website here.

CERA yesterday released what it calls The Christchurch Cathedral File on its website here. From the CERA web page it is possible to download the whole file (major download at 66MB) or parts of it. Unfortunately the CERA server, as of last night, does not support download resuming. This can be frustrating with large files. For those with slow internet connections the risk of having to try repeatedly top download a file can be reduced by using the option to down a section at a time.

The full File is made up of 460 pages going from the most recent (2 Nov 2011), back to shortly after the February earthquake. It is sort of in date date order, but only just, with recent material as likely to be found at the back as the front. The File has a large number of documents and no page numbers. The page numbers referred to below are from the PDF page numbers of the full document, and will not be the same in other versions.

Friday, 4 November 2011

EQC FAQ update: Land remediation timeframes and dwelling claims

The following is from the FAQ part of EQC's website which, by my calculations, was updated with these additions some time yesterday.

How do you fancy having your land repairs managed by Fletchers or your insurer? Do you know if your land assessment has been done? Read on:


The land claims FAQ is here.

What are the timeframes for land repairs, given that they will in some cases delay building repairs?
For repairs being managed through the Fletcher EQR programme, land repairs will be managed as part of the overall repair programme on each property, and the timeframe for land repairs is essentially the same as for other repairs. EQC and Fletcher EQR hope to make an announcement on specific timeframes soon, but this is a project on a very large scale, and it could be a matter of years before it all work is completed.
Who's doing land repairs (if under cap)? Is it Fletcher EQR?
For properties being managed by Fletcher EQR, all work will be done by accredited contractors, including land repairs.
Who organises the remediation of my land if I’m over cap?
Your land repairs are done as part of the total programme of repair to your house. If EQC is doing the repairs to your house through Fletcher EQR, EQC will organise the repairs to your land at the same time.If your house repair is being managed by your insurer then the land repair will either be managed by EQC or your insurer. The options will be discussed with you prior to your repair commencing.
Does my land need to be remediated before the foundation work can be done?
This will depend on the extent and nature of land damage. When are land assessments being done? Is there a list of suburbs where land assessments are being carried out? Land assessments will be completed by Christmas. If your land assessment has not been done yet, contact EQC. {NOTE: How would someone know of their individual land assessment had or hadn't been done?}

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Photographing the loss of Avonside

A photo documentary project has begun to record a number of post-earthquake personal experiences. It will, over a period of years, record the lives of some Avonside residents as they and the suburb experience the after-effects of the earthquakes.

It is intended the project will result in a public exhibition featuring the people and events, potentially a book, and a significant oral and visual record of what happened to the suburb and some of it's people. The material gathered will become a significant record and educational resource in the collections of the A Place in Time Documentary Project.

The aim of A Place in Time is to record the city of Christchurch and a cross-section of its people through photography, oral history and documentary writing. Since its establishment in 2000 it has produced an extensive archive of exhibitions, books, and educational projects under the directorship of Glenn Busch. Many of the projects have resulted in highly acclaimed and widely publicized exhibitions such as My Place (Glenn Busch & Bruce Connew), Red Bus Diary (Tim Veling) and Caring for the Dead (Bridgit Anderson).

The project is being undertaken by a team of three. Leader of the team is accomplished documentary photographer, and University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts lecturer, Glenn Busch. His role will be to spend time with the participants to record their lives prior to the earthquakes, their earthquake experiences, and how life unfolds for them as Avonside is depopulated, homes demolished, and lives begun again somewhere else.

The two other project members, who will be taking the photographs are:
Bridgit Anderson - photographer and manager of the University of Canterbury's A Place in Time Documentary Project and responsible for it's education programmes. Bridgit will spend time with the participants getting to know them and photographing them to accompany the stories recorded by Glenn.
Tim Veling - photographer and University of Canterbury photography lecturer. Tim will be recording the buildings and landscape as it changes, and has already started doing this.

If you are an Avonsider and would like to be considered, or would like more information about being involved, please send an e-mail to Bridgit Anderson with your name, address, e-mail address and telephone number. Bridgit's e-mail is If you don't have access to, or use, e-mail Bridgit can be contacted on 355-0473

For those who like technical details: Tim will be photographing with a large format 4x5 film camera (see Tim in action in the photograph above) shooting Kodak Portra. Bridgit will be using 35mm black & white film. Digital is different, not better. Amongst other things film is significantly more archival than digital images so the record of the project will last for very many decades.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Green-blue TC3 land and the potential for insurance problems

Back on the 9th of September there was a blog entry about insurance companies and how they might decide that not all properties in the green zone can be repaired because of damage to the land underneath (here and as reported by here).

Gerry Brownlee's media release from last Friday (here) states:
"The information released today will allow homeowners with damaged properties in the residential green zone to get on with the process of repairing or rebuilding their homes with greater confidence," he said.
Greater confidence is a start, but certainty is needed. Has the government discussed the status of TC3 land with insurance companies? Do they accept that land classified as TC3 is safe to rebuild on? What reservations do they have?

Once more we come back to the four points raised in the earlier blog:
  • Will the "damaged land, repairable house" scenario arise in the Green Zone as well?
  • Will insurance companies take upon themselves the power to unilaterally declare little "Red Zones", perhaps as small as a single section, if they feel their financial exposure is at an uncomfortable level?
  • Will insurers, in effect, be the only group with a re-zoning opportunity available to them?
  • If this is permitted by the government then what integrity attaches to the initial geotechnical decisions?
Might be a topic for the community meetings CERA are apparently going to announce next week?