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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Website for Earthquake junkies

There is a website, called Earthquake-Report, that claims to be the best non-governmental earthquake reporting website in the world. That may, or may not, be so however it is extremely good and covers earthquakes the world over. There is good news and information coverage of Christchurch.

If you are not yet sated with earthquake news the website is here. If you are so keen you would like to be a volunteer earthquake correspondent for their website click here.

Friday, 20 May 2011

CCC - Share an Idea public workshops

The CCC are holding a series of public workshops where participants are able to talk about ideas and generate new ones. Anyone can take part, but due to a limit on numbers it is by registration only. Registration is free and can be done on-line, or through local council Service Centres. If you want to register on-line click here.

The following information is from the council's share an idea website.
Share an Idea public workshops
Christchurch residents are being encouraged to keep talking and sharing their ideas during the next four weeks at a series of public workshops to generate more ideas and feedback as the Christchurch City Council begins work on drafting the Central City Plan.
The two and a half hour facilitated workshops are for anyone to attend but registration is essential as numbers are limited. Participants will work in small groups to talk about issues which have  already been raised and generate more feedback to help inform the draft Plan.
Workshop - North Beach  Saturday 28 May, 2.30pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - City  Sunday 29 May, 2pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - City  Wednesday 1 June, 6pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - Wigram  Saturday 4 June, 2.30pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - City  Sunday 5 June, 2pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - City  Tuesday 7 June, 6pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - Cashmere  Wednesday 8 June, 6pm  venue to be confirmed
Workshop - Russley  Sunday 12 June, 2.30pm  venue to be confirmed
Additional workshops may be scheduled if required.

Dissatisfaction with insurance companies

Waimakariri MP Clayton Cosgrove, along with the three other Christchurch Labour electorate MPs, participate in an on-line journal called Christchurch Earthquake bulletin. It is a daily account (Monday to Friday) of what each of them is doing and the issues being encountered.

Clayton represents an electorate with a substantial amount of earthquake damage, particularly in Kaiapoi. Waimakariri are further advanced than Christchurch in dealing with earthquake issues. Consequently whatever happens there in relation to assessments, the terms of insurance claims, repairs, rebuilds and land remediation can be seen as an indication of what might happen on a much larger scale in Christchurch.

In edition 45 of the Christchurch Earthquake bulletin (get a copy here) Clayton raises a number of crucial issues that will affect us. The whole of his text is reproduced below. There are lessons for us in what troubles him, and a collective approach where we support each other in dealing with the insurance companies may be the way to proceed. Let me know what you think.

(note: the original is one big block of text. I have broken it up into four paragraphs to make it less daunting, otherwise nothing has been changed)
Last night’s Kaiapoi Residents’ Association meeting focused again on dissatisfaction with insurance companies. Dissatisfaction is growing, not diminishing, and a common theme is the lack of information for residents, particularly around their claims. I told those attending (and was supported by a Waimakariri district councillor) that they should not sign off on their claims until they were entirely comfortable with them, but it is obvious pressure is being applied to some residents by some companies.
My advice is that residents get legal advice before signing, but some people can’t afford to do that. That’s why we asked Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee some time ago to provide a facilitation service, but nothing has happened. If people lose confidence in the claims process, they will become more reluctant to sign, and rebuilding will be slowed further. Lessons need to be learned from  Australia, where they have found out that providing legal facilitation actually speeds up the processing of claims.
The biggest obstacle to recovery will be if people can’t sign off their claims in a timely way. That’s what happening. A community law office has opened for one day every second week, but people at the meeting said it would be helpful if it could be staffed more regularly. A number of specific issues were raised about claims, notably around liquefaction and land remediation. What happens if a house can be repaired and the concrete pad under it is intact, but there is liquefaction underneath?
The Government has said that houses than can be repaired will be, but what happens in terms of equity if some houses are demolished, while others are rebuilt despite the presence of liquefaction? People also asked whether EQC, which has responsibility for remediating land, would agree to remediating it to its former ground level, because it some cases land has sunk drastically and there could be a real danger of flooding in the future. There are lots of questions out there, but people are finding the information flow is drying up again.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Community Law Canterbury - further update on hours

Community Law Canterbury have changed the hours when assistance and advice is available. The net effect is a change in the hours for the drop-in centre, and an increase in the hours available for appointments. The following is from their website (which is here).
We are currently operating free drop in sessions at 35 Riccarton Rd., Monday to Friday between 10am to 2pm.
We are also running an evening and Saturday morning service by appointment:
    Monday to Thursday 5.30pm to 7.00pm by appointment
    Saturday Morning 9.30 to 12.00pm by appointment
Other services offered include employment advice, legal help for young and older people. Each of these services is by appointment, with details on the website. There is also specialist help for Maori and Pacific people. Statutory declarations can be made between 3.00 and 5.00pm Monday to Thursday.

Linwood Park Village - temporary accommodation

Work started yesterday on temporary accommodation in Linwood park. Initially work will involve site preparation, followed by construction of up to 40 houses. The first houses will be available in early July.

The following are extracts from the media release:
The village will comprise a mix of two, three and four bedroom units. Portable homes will be fully serviced just like any other normal residential neighbourhood.
Mr Bywater says some sports and training grounds will be affected. “Building temporary villages is an extraordinary measure which has had to be taken as a result of the earthquake and Christchurch City Council is arranging alternative locations where necessary.”
He says care has been taken during planning for the village to ensure that residents and park users will have easy access to the rest of the park.
The council's full media release is here.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

CERA - Website update and revamp

CERA have updated their web site, and revamped it to provide more information at a glance.

The new style website takes up much of the information that was shared by Civil Defence and the CCC, on the Council's website.  CERA's website is here.

There is also a very extensive list of every organisation or person you might ever need to contact. It is here.

SuperShed - again

Since publishing the previous blog entry it transpires that council staff have known of the relocation of the SuperShed for some weeks.

The Council's Business Support unit published a web page dated the 27th of April called A Waste of Time. This is an educational programme for schools designed to teach "Waste minimisation and management issues, waste hierarchy, recycling technology, sustainability, personal and social action." The location of one part of the programme is shown as "EcoShop (SuperShed, Blenheim Road)". You can see the web page here.

In her comments in the Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 42 (here) Lianne Dalziel says:
"Among the directors of the company are the Chief Executive and General Manager of Corporate Services of the CCC, and yet the council itself has neither been informed nor consulted."
With the information available to council staff in April, it is curious no one thought to advise the Council, local community representatives and leaders.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Insurance rate rises has a brief article on insurance rate rises in New Zealand following the Canterbury earthquakes. Their article, Big rate rises follow NZ quakes, has no hard numbers but the message is strongly in the direction of sharp premium increases. The article is here.

There is also an article on regulatory changes in the NZ insurance industry, Regulatory push could lead to NZ market consolidations, and it can be found here.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Study centre to support AGHS students

Education Minister Anne Tolley has announced the establishment of study centres to support students whose schools have been affected by the February earthquake.

For Avonside Girls High School students the study centre is based at the New Brighton library, operating Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 11.30 am.

The following is from the Minister's media release, which can be found here.
“The centres will be staffed by trained and registered teachers, focussing on students in years 11, 12 and 13, giving young people a place to go to do their homework, study for tests, or seek extra help from trained teachers.”
The other schools covered by this scheme are: Cashmere High School (based at South Learning Centre and Shirley library), Papanui High School (Papanui League Club) and Linwood High School (Linwood library).

Earthquake Afterthoughts

On the 9th of April an e-mail was sent to residents asking for thoughts on how events unfolded after the 22nd, and what could be learnt from that (see here on the blog). A number did respond with an interesting array of comments and observations. There was a mixture of common and unique points in the responses. They have been gathered together for the time when preparedness needs to be revisited.

One person spent a great deal of effort reflecting on what happened on the 22nd and subsequently, which was recorded and passed on. As it is quite detailed, and provides a chronology of a shared experience, the blog seemed a good and accessible place for it. The writer is happy to oblige and we both agreed to anonymize it so the focus is on the content rather than the writer or the street.

It is a very thorough piece and consists of:

Most comments are based around experience following 22 Feb 2011 earthquake, only referring to 04 Sep 2010 for comparison.

These comments are intended to be helpful for the future rather than to be critical of what was done. They are not a moan.

Authorities in control of the civil emergencies during September 2010 and February-March 2011 are to be applauded for what they achieved and managed; however there still appear to have been some errors and oversights that leave improvements for the future.

It is intended that these comments be accepted, read & digested rather than generate any knee-jerk defence or challenge by authorities thinking there was no problem. What is written here is what many of us perceived to have happened or not happened; the perception may be right . Even if the perception is wrong then this still highlights a major problem that what actually happened was not clearly communicated.

There is much more in the piece, more than can be appropriately presented in blog format. The whole document can be downloaded in PDF format from Google Docs here.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The New City - the mayor's message

There is a message from the mayor in Saturday's Press, pages A4 and A5, addressing the need and opportunities for rebuilding the city (also on the Press website here.)

A number of themes run through the message. Most are what you would expect in the aftermath of disasters whether from natural causes, or arising from human catastrophes such as mass redundancies or chronic unemployment. A few themes stand out.


The first theme, which opens the message, is the need to create a city that changes the population demographics - the number of aging people is rising and this should be reversed by retaining and attracting those who are younger. All of this is true, and universally so, as Christchurch does not have a monopoly on an increasingly aging population. What mustn't be lost is that the city is for all, and must be rebuilt to include all, in all its aspects. Rebuilding the city must be done without prejudice to sectors of the population. Failure to achieve this will result in a draft plan that is not supported by the residents of greater Christchurch.


The matter of public consultation over the connection between the city and its hinterland is covered briefly. Contained in a few sentences is a desire to cut off this significant area of consultation by presuming to know the collective view on how the city connects with what lies outside:
I believe we are fortunate to already have behind us the major consultation and decisions that inform the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy.
It means we have a base document already agreed upon that lays out how the central city must connect with the greater Christchurch area; suburbs, satellite towns, transport and green spaces.
The Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy was developed well before the September earthquake (2007) and reflects the needs and visions of those living in a simple, almost naive, world. So much has changed that this document** cannot be considered to have much relevance, let alone give any mandate to proceed without consultation. As the rebuild beyond the inner city is CERA's responsibility, the interconnection between the two requires CERA and the Council to both consult with the people of Christchurch and Canterbury.

Changing Character of the City

Most people who have spent a number of years in the city have noticed its changing character, especially the drift from the city centre towards the suburbs and malls. Recalling his personal experience of changes in the city the mayor attributes this largely to external factors drawing people away from the centre.

Those sharing a similar chronology may, as I do, have a completely different understanding of the changes. The movement away from the central city arose very much as a result of the greater city becoming bigger. As this happened the inner city become less capable of, and later less interested in, serving the needs of the ordinary resident. Problems of access and parking arose, scarce land and buildings were increasingly dedicated to service activities, and later came a passion for making the city attractive to tourists and those with recreational dollars to spend. Over time the centre of the city became less relevant and less attractive for its residents.

The low relevance of the inner city is unlikely to be changed by many of the ideas now being promoted, and perhaps this is a good thing. If the inner city had been the primary hub for everything, as it is in Dunedin and for a significant part of Wellington, recovery after February 22nd would have been extraordinarily difficult. While the west would have remained undamaged, there would have been no infrastructure available (think malls and business parks) to provide emergency support, food, water, employment, and respite to the centre and the east.

Christchurch, like the internet, has evolved to have its important services distributed. There is no highly vulnerable centre upon which survival depends. For future resilience keeping this is essential, and any moves to bolster the inner city to the detriment of urban shopping and service centres must be resisted.


The message closes with an expression of hope for goodwill and a working together, rather than in competition. No doubt this is shared by everyone. Ensuring the needs of all are taken into consideration, and that this is done by allowing full community consultation to take place, will make this happen. Making presumptions, cutting corners, and too little community involvement will destroy any hope of goodwill and cooperation.

Ultimately the residents are the market, failure to provide what they want will result in discontent and a dead inner city, no matter how beautiful or green it appears.

**  The Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy and Action Plan 2007 and the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy Summary 2008 can be found here.

ps: just to set the record straight - the mayor's message ends:
To paraphrase an ancient truth understood by those founders arriving to establish Christchurch: "Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference".
As I understand it, this "ancient truth" is actually called the Serenity Prayer and starts "God grant me the serenity ...". It isn't ancient as its authorship is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, and dates to between 1937 and 1943 (authorities differ on the date). I'm not sure how this relates to the founders of Canterbury. For a good read on Niebuhr try The Atlantic journal article of November 2007 which can be found here (the 4th page makes reference to, and provides a date for, the Serenity Prayer).

Ooops - missed out the Niebuhr link. It has now been added (10.12 pm).