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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Respecting waterways and land.

On the 27th of April 2011 the Press carried an article featuring landscape architect Di Lucas (page A5). Entitled Rebuild must 'respect' waterways, it discussed how parts of the inner city had been built on top of tributaries to the Avon, creating hidden vulnerabilities. To quote from the article: "When transposed on the present-day central city, the waterways mirrored some of the areas of worst earthquake damage."

The article lists a few of the inner city streets where there had once been streams, and which have now experienced significant land and building damage. A map showing the inner city in the 1850s, and the tributary streams, accompanies the article. An on-line version without the map is here.

Focused as it was on the inner city, the article did not mention the situation in the suburbs. We are most likely to find the same situation, and consequences, occurring there. For those who want to look at this on a broader scale, while waiting for the geotech reports in June or later, there are two items worth tracking down.

Black Maps

The first to look at is a copy of the original "black maps", or early maps derived from them (such as the one used in the Press article). The black maps were published in 1850s, based on the work of early surveyors. Unlike today's surveys, these maps do not contain micro levels of detail. What they do provide is a good description of the nature of the various areas within the city. Some areas have more detail than others, which are only broadly described (e.g. between Travis Road and Lower Styx Road the whole area is described as "swamp, Manuka scrub fern, swamp hills, manuka scrub and fern, sand hills". The Avonside part of the map was published on the blog in March, here.

The maps cover everything inside the area starting at the mouth of the Waimakariri, over to the back of the airport, across to Hornby, Halswell and the bottom of the Port Hills, through Cashmere, then follows the course of the Heathcote River and the land on either side, to Opawa, Ferrymead, the Estuary, Redcliffs and the Sumner bar.
The early maps don't give us a means for DIY geotech analysis, but do show what the land was originally like. When coupled with EQC's geotech results we can deal knowledgably with a few basic issues:

  • why some people do have to go
  • why some people should consider going instead of staying (or vice versa)
And ask the questions:
  • why were some developments or constructions allowed to proceed?
  • what developments and construction can be done safely throughout the city and the vulnerable suburbs?
A PDF map, based upon the black maps, is available from the CCC website here.  The map can be enlarged quite significantly to examine just one small part of the city.

Swamp City

Christchurch - Swamp to City, published by the Christchurch Drainage Board in 1989 (author John Wilson, ISBN 0908714041, copies at most libraries) is a history of the Drainage Board from 1875 to 1989.

Accompanying the history of turning Christchurch from swamps to dry land are interesting photographs of flooding in Christchurch at various times, and some useful maps. The map facing page 16 shows the height of the city using 1 metre contour lines. Its amazing just how low lying the eastern suburbs were back then, and now even lower. The fold-out map inside the back cover is a compilation from the original black maps overlaid with streets. Identical, or very similar, to the PDF version mentioned above.

NOTE: Di Lucas has a website

Friday, 29 April 2011

Why buildings respond differently to earthquakes

As mentioned in a recent post, the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) has have a selection of earthquake fact sheets (here).

Especially interesting is the one called Why buildings respond differently to earthquakes. It is a general introduction and applies to both commercial and domestic buildings. The chapter headings are:
  1. Causes of Damage
  2. Types of Shaking Damage in Earthquakes
  3. How are Buildings made more Earthquake resistant?
  4. Evolution of Standards and Building Codes.
  5. Buildings Not Built to Current Building Code
  6. Learning from the Events in Canterbury
It can be found here.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Canterbury Job Matcher

The government has a website for matching people's skills with job vacancies. It is part of the government's own careers website, but specifically for job seekers in Canterbury.

The site has a hint of the "What colour is your parachute" book, written for those dead-ended in jobs, or unemployed, and trying to sort out what else they could try (if that doesn't ring any bells, don't worry).  The advantage of the web site is that it matches your characteristics with jobs currently available.

It is simplistic, and there aren't many jobs on some parts of it yet, but give it a go (more than once). If enough people try it out that will encourage those behind the scheme, and those employers contemplating listing vacancies. You can find it here.

Earthquake damaged or lost library books, CDs etc.

The devil is always in the details of life. If you had books or other items on loan from the public library during the earthquake, and they are damaged or lost, you are responsible for replacing them. You will be billed at some stage for the cost of replacing them, so the library has released the following advice.
I have lost library items as a result of the earthquake. What should I do?
In the short-term we will not be billing customers for lost items, however, if you are currently going through the process of making a claim you may want to include the cost of library items that are on loan to you but are lost or cannot be retrieved. Your claim should include the cost of a processing fee. For an estimate of the cost of the items and the processing fee, please contact us.
You can contact them via the web here, or by phone on 941 7923

If you have lost your library card, or are unable to access it, there is information on how to deal with this here.

Temporary accommodation - Jennian Homes

The folks at Jennian Homes sent me some images to put on the blog, along with the press release issued a week or so ago. The very useful thing about that is we have access to them all the time.

Structural features of the temporary houses are:
  • exterior cladding of Shadowclad Ply
  • interior walls lined with plywood as well, instead of gib, for greater strength
  • lined and finished and ready to move into
  • insulated living spaces with double glazing and heat pumps
  • fitted with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
The colour illustration shows the front exterior.

The floor plans show both the three and four bedroom houses which are the same size. These houses will be 83 square metres in size, with the 3 bedroom house having a larger living room.

Three bedroom house

Four bedroom house
 The 2 bedroom house (not shown) will be smaller at 64 square metres and the same style as the 4 bedroom model, minus the bedrooms to the left. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Green Grocer

The Green Grocer, which was located in Linwood Village between Worcester and Gloucester streets on Stanmore Road, closed after the Boxing Day earthquake. Today they reopened in Richmond, at the top end of Stanmore Road, between Bin Inn and the butchers.

Community Forum - nominations for membership

The Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery has invited interested community groups to nominate people to be on the Community Forum. To quote the media release:
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is calling for expressions of interest for membership of the community forum to be formed under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

 "We are looking for representatives of community-based organisations to put forward their nomination for consideration to be appointed to the community forum," Mr Brownlee said.

Under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery must invite at least 20 people who are suitably qualified to participate in the community forum.

"The intention is to involve a range of grass roots community, business, social, and cultural interests in the forum.

“It will in the main be made up of non-elected persons who take a representative role in their communities."

The purpose of the forum is to provide the Minister with information or advice in relation to the operation of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

Any community-based organisation in Canterbury with a nomination for the forum should email a brief curriculum vitae of their suggested representative(s) to by 5pm on Wednesday 4 May 2011.

"We are looking to get this forum up and running as quickly as possible," Mr Brownlee said.

For more information about the Canterbury earthquake recovery and the new Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) visit:

Police: free programme to help keep property safe

The latest edition of Ten One Community Edition, the New Zealand Police online magazine, has an article about SNAP, a programme to help people keep their property safe. The following is an extract from the article:
Police are promoting the online Serial Number Action Partnership (SNAP) to help people keep their property safe.
SNAP allows members of the public to record information about their property, including serial numbers and unique identifiers, in a free and secure online system at This makes their items more secure and, in the case of loss or burglary, more easily traceable.
You can register you items at the SNAP website here.


The NZ Herald has published a magazine called 12.51 - The story of the Christchurch earthquake. 

It brings together newspaper articles written by Herald journalists following the February 22nd earthquake, and accompanies them with photographs from various sources. There is also a DVD with interviews and footage from the aftermath. Some of what you read and see will be familiar from the Christchurch Star when, for a short time, it returned to being the daily newspaper of choice. The cost is $10, with the net proceeds going to the Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. Copies are available from Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths supermarkets.

We bought a copy at the supermarket yesterday and found it compelling reading. The articles provide a diary and explanation of the times when there was no news, or too much information to take in. To have everything in one place makes understanding easier. The one disappointment was finding Gary McCormick's poem on the inside back cover. Charisma Rangipunga's He Poroporoaki/Farewell Tribute, from the National Christchurch Memorial Service, would have been a better way to finish. Perhaps by way of compensation, there are cartoons by Rod Emmerson which are worthy of the price, just for themselves.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

EQC - FAQ Update

EQC have made extensive changes to its FAQ, adding new areas of information, and supplemented or deleted existing material. There is too much change to be able to note it all here, however many of the highlights are listed below.

Some of the answers are useful, most of the others are disappointingly inadequate. It is still worth a look, especially the information about private insurance assessments "over the cap" (your insurance company doing the assessment instead of EQC), towards the end.

The FAQ is here.

EQC Coverage
  • Does EQC cover commercial property and loss of stock etc?
  • Who covers medical expenses like broken glasses or false teeth damaged by earthquakes?
  • What is not covered by EQC?
  • What do I do if I don’t have insurance?
  • What happens if my property was or is damaged by an aftershock?
  • I have no insurance and my chimney is not safe. Can I get an EQC assessor to look at the damage at no cost?
Claims Process
  • What is the payment process for claims?
  • What do I do if I have or find additional damage since lodging a claim?
  • What do I do if I have a question about my claim?
  • What if my property is red stickers and/or I am unable to access my property to lodge a claim?
Claims - Contents
  • I need to clean up my damaged contents. If I get a tradesperson or company to remove the damaged contents or I take the damaged contents myself to the tip – can I claim back the removal and tip fees from EQC if I have a claim?
  • What information do I need to provide to prove the value of damaged items?
Claims - Land
  • What is being done about land remediation?
(click on the link below to see the rest)

Project Plant - protecting garden plants

This week local National MPs are launching a project to help residents keep plants alive while their houses are rebuilt, or while residents relocate. Nicky Wagner has issued a media release on her website and the main content of the release is:
Pre-registered plants from damaged properties can either be delivered or moved by the team of volunteers to the community plant nursery in Marshlands over the weekend of 14 and 15 May 2011.  The nursery will accept plants such as roses, rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, hardy natives and small fruit trees. 

Approximate individual plot size is 2m x 10m with a 10 plant maximum per plot.  Maximum recommended plant height is 2.5 metres.   Land is peat and will be hoed and covered with weed matting.  Irrigation is planned for the spring.

Once the planting is complete owners will be responsible for looking after their own plot at the nursery (which will be open on two pre-arranged half days per month), however, support will be available for those with mobility or health issues.

The community plant nursery is free of charge but a gold coin donation to help cover costs would be much appreciated.
The full release, and registration form, can be found here. Registrations must be received by the 8th of May.

Liquifaction explained, Christchurch style

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) has the best explanation (words and diagram) I have come across of liquifaction in Christchurch.

They have a selection of earthquake fact sheets (here), including one on liquifaction. It is in PDF format and can be downloaded here.

Monday, 25 April 2011

New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Inc

Gail recently came across the website of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Inc. The NZSEE website has a section devoted to the February earthquake, with engineering articles on aspects of how land performed during the earthquake and what happened to buildings. The articles are technical, but some of the writing is digestible. There are links to images of the city and some suburbs shortly after the February 22nd earthquake.

The website is here. Other pages of possible interest:
  • liquifaction map here,
  • PDF file with selected earthquake images here (click on the map to get the PDF file).
  • image gallery here 
  • engineering field reports here
  • preliminary report (3 days after the earthquake) on the Pyne Gould and Grand Chancellor buildings here.
There is also a message board where you can follow the online conversations (here). Not much is happening but it may pick up as the engineers get more information.

300 posts

This is the 300th post on the blog, and much has happened to and around us in those five and a bit months. What seemed important has receded into the background now that the unimaginable has arrived

For a few there has been tragedy beyond anyone's ability to understand or describe. Despite this, we have all experienced an event we will survive. How we survive, and progress to something new, depends much upon factors outside our control but most significantly on how we see the world around us. The key is whether you see the cup as half empty, half full, or running over.

It may not be possible for all to remain where we now live, and somewhere else may be a good, or daunting, prospect.  Stay or go, want to or not, these decisions will mostly be non-negotiable. What is within our power is how we see things.

Look at the photographs below (click on the link). They were taken on River Road a few days ago, within a few hundred metres of each other, in a time span of minutes. Everything you see is the work of human beings, using the tools, vision, and energy available to them.  What we need to do is have the vision, and then work with everything we have to make it so.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Earth flood barriers along Avonside Drive

Flood protection work has been extended further up Avonside Drive. An earth barrier now runs from just below Retreat Road, at the Dallington Bridge end, around the loop stopping just short of the western end of Morris Street.

At the eastern (downstream) end of Robson Ave the barrier is about 1m above the level of the road.

The first two photographs show the area as it was a few days ago. The trees are being pruned to avoid damage from the earthmoving equipment.

Tree trimming about 150m upstream from Robson Ave.
Tree trimming at Robson Ave (looking upstream)

These are the barriers as at the 23rd of April.
Upstream from Robson Ave., Banks Ave top right.

Upstream from Robson Ave. (taken a little below the first image).

Downstream from Robson Ave.

Downstream from Robson Ave, Morris Street, middle right.

For the photo buffs who noticed the difference: the top two images were taken with a 20+ year old compact film camera, the rest with a compact digital.