Search This Blog

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Crimestoppers is a New Zealand crime fighting organisation introduced from Britain as a result of the theft of Victoria Cross medals from the Waiouru Army Museum (there is a potted history at the end).

The concept is simple: if you think there is something suspicious it should be reported. If it is serious, and needs police help, dial 111. Where it is not urgent it would ideally still be reported directly to police. However there can be circumstances where the thought of others knowing you had contacted police can cause anxiety or fear. This is where Crimestoppers come in.

A topical issue in Christchurch is looting, and the disappearance of items from the Red Zone and homes in the suburbs. They have to go somewhere, to someone. Perhaps that someone has money or assets that seem out of character, or is offering you something at a bargain price. If this causes you disquiet contact the police, or use Crimestoppers.

Contacting Crimestoppers is easy and safe. All communications with Crimestoppers are anonymous. You can call them on their anonymous 0800 number 0800 555 111. Alternatively, you can use the encrypted online form on their website. The link to the form will take you to the UK Crimestoppers who will pass the information back to New Zealand. If you feel your situation is out of the ordinary, consider going to a public library and using a computer there.

Information received by Crimestoppers is checked, to ensure there is nothing which would identify whoever provided the information, then passed on to the appropriate authority (e.g. police, customs, immigration, corrections). They in turn will carefully investigate the information to see if it is correct, and whether there is other information to corroborate what has been given to them by Crimestoppers.

To find out more, go to the Crimestoppers' website: or use these specific links:

What does anonymous mean?
What information do you handle, and what should I report to other agencies?
What happens to information provided?
What if I am the victim of false allegations to Crimestoppers?
What about school crime?
Do you give advice on crime protection?
How good has Crimestoppers been in stopping crime?
Has Crimestoppers promise of anonymity ever been broken?
    For those of you who enjoy blogs, Crimestoppers have one here.

    Finally, a brief history from the Crimestoppers New Zealand website (here).
    Concept originated in US when a young college student was killed and no one would come forward to give information. The opportunity to give information anonymously and rewards bought results. Established in UK in similar circumstances. A policeman was murdered and no one came forward with information. Michael Ashcroft, a businessman, posted an award and the chance to give information anonymously. This bought results. Established in NZ as a result of theft of Victoria Crosses from Army Museum. This bought together Lord Ashcroft, who provided a reward for the medals return, and the Commissioner of Police and gave the impetus for the establishment of Crimestoppers New Zealand. The medals were returned undamaged. For history and success of our sister organisation, Crimestoppers UK.

    Clean Heat Project to end on July 1st

    Set up 8 years ago, this project was designed to help homeowners with old and polluting fires to change to non-polluting heat sources. It ends on the 1st of July.

    Those whose chimney or fireplace was damaged by earthquakes are eligible for new heat sources via the Fletchers/EQR Winter heating Programme. Anyone else with a non-complying fire has missed out, as the Project is no longer accepting appointments. 

    If you had an appointment made before the 22nd of February, and subsequently cancelled because of the February earthquake, Environment Canterbury will contact you. It might be worth calling the Project, instead of waiting for them to call you, to make sure you won't be overlooked. The numbers are: 03 353 9276 or 0800 32 92 76 (0800 EC WARM)

    The media release is here, and the Project details here. The latter page also has information on ECCA, another efficient and clean heat programme.

    Friday, 27 May 2011

    New bus information for AGHS students

    The Ministry of Education has consolidated bus transport and modified routes for Avonside Girls' High School pupils attending Burnside High School.

    Full details are available on the Ministry's website here. Changes have also been made to transport arrangements for pupils from Shirley Boys' High School (here) and Marian College (here). Information on changes to other school bus routes can be found here.

    The CCC - Reaction and Resistance

    After the September earthquake Christchurch police produced an intelligence report. Using past disaster experiences from other countries, they tried to anticipate how problems related to social cohesion and alienation would unfold in Christchurch (the police report is here). The most obvious ones seemed to be frustration and anger leading to legal disputes or protest action of the physical and confrontational kind. There have been hints of protest action to come, however bubbling away below the surface are two forms of protest not related to law enforcement.

    The first is at the individual level where a ratepayer in the east has decided to stop paying rates. There may be more than one, and as an idea it has merit. The council is providing nothing to the east, and because the council is taking away what little there is here (Super Shed, QEII pool, maybe all of the QEII facilities), the payment of rates doesn't seem appropriate. It might be an idea that will grow in popularity and, if the council cannot appease those who are unhappy with them, the council might go broke before the issue is otherwise resolved. It is worth thinking about.

    The second is an e-mail doing the rounds on the subject of transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability within the council. Raising performance issues associated with the chief executive it is calling, amongst other things, for an independent review of his performance. Addressed to all councillors, the e-mail allegedly comes from an organisation called the Christchurch Rate Payers Accountability Trust.  The Press has an article about this here. This is not a new issue but needs to be resolved quickly to retain the confidence of the people of Christchurch. If confidence in the Council and its officers is lost, every council action will be considered suspect. In this environment there is potential for some actions to be resented and resisted.

    Neither of the micro rates revolt or the push for accountability may get far, however if the council doesn't deal quickly, and successfully, with these issues there will be a rapid rise in dissatisfaction. What follows then will polarise the community and marginalise the council to the point where the government will need to intervene as it did with Environment Canterbury. In fact the November elections would be a very good time to have special local body elections for councillors and mayor to ensure the citizens of greater Christchurch have the leadership they want.

    Thursday, 26 May 2011

    Central City Plan - information update

     CCC have updated the Central City Plan FAQs, giving more information on the processes available to us to have input into the plan, and giving a deadline date of 20 June for public input. The FAQs can be found here.

    There is still time to register for the public workshops to be held between the 28th of May (this Saturday) and the 15th of June. The nearest workshop will be at Wainoni on Saturday the 11th of June. Find out more about these workshops here, and go here to register.

    Wednesday, 25 May 2011

    Lumley Insurance

    As part of the insurance survey we are doing, it turns out there are a few Lumley Insurance clients among us. That is a company overlooked until now.

    Lumley have a website here, and a web page devoted to the February 22nd Christchurch earthquake here.  As with other insurers it has a complaints procedure which is outlined here.

    Specific policy related information is not available so it may depend on who you got your insurance through. Click on the name of the organisation providing your policy to go to the relevant page.

    Unlike the large insurance companies, Lumley don't seem to have a FAQ-style claims guide (or at least not on-line). If you want to get an idea of some of the issues that can arise from earthquake claims, I would recommend reading either the AMI (here) or State (here) claims guides. Neither of them are going to have any influence with Lumley, however they might help you to frame any questions you want to ask.

    Tuesday, 24 May 2011

    Important information for people returning to Christchurch

    CERA have updated a document called Important Information for People Returning to Christchurch. It is a four page brochure with information likely to be useful for anyone returning after a few weeks or months away.

    It is a PDF file and you can read it here.

    Avonside Community Group - May 23 newsletter

    There is another newsletter written by Leanne Curtis of the Avonside Community Group (reproduced with permission). As it is covers a great deal of information, only the first few items are shown here. The whole newsletter can be downloaded from here.
    Hi people

    Well the much discussed Rapture seems not to have occurred so that's a bonus for Cantabrians. Personally, I'd like to throttle the person in The Press who thought Cantabrians needed this news story. We never discussed it with our kids but it's amazing what conversations take place in the school yard. As a result, the kids have been stressed and so have the adults. When did we get so susceptible to believing this kind of rot?

    There's still no word on land remediation and as the end of May draws near I can only hope Gerry Brownlee comes through with some decent information. CanCERN, like many MPs and Councillors, has been pushing very hard for extra support on the ground for the residents who will be most affected. Whether you are waiting for the word you can stay or waiting for the word that you can go, we are all going to be facing some very big and ultimately emotional choices.

    Greening the Rubble

    I'm trying to meet with Greening the Rubble and GapFillers to discuss what they could do in Avonside. There is a lot of support to do something that involves the Medway Street Bridge so fingers crossed we can address that issue.


    Red Cross has committed to looking at ways to support people with increased heating costs over the winter. The details are sketchy as yet so watch this space.


    Monday, 23 May 2011

    State Insurance policy increases

    State Insurance announced today on their web site that premiums for home insurance will be increasing by approximately 15%. The explanation given by State's CEO Jacki Johnson is:
    Our reinsurance costs are increasing
    Insurers take out their own cover against major events – called reinsurance. This ensures we have the funds available to cover the high cost of a major catastrophe. Over the last 18 months a series of global events, including the Christchurch earthquakes, has meant reinsurers incurred massive costs and have been forced to increase the premiums companies like State pay them.
    Our financial strength helps ensure we’re here when you need us
    Fortunately you are insured with State, which is part of the Insurance Australia Group (IAG). This gives us access to a large pool of capital and reinsurance funds, reflected in our strong Standard and Poor’s credit rating of AA-and ‘Very Strong’ claim paying status. It is crucial we maintain this solid foundation so you have reassurance that State will be able to pay out on your claims.
    My team has worked hard to provide the best balance between keeping premiums affordable and maintaining our business strength. That way, as we have been for over 100 years, we’ll always be here when you need us.
    There is no indication when the increases will occur.

    This, and other policy related news can be found on State's web site here.

    Avonside Girls High School and QEII Park - the land

    In the lead up to the release of geotechnical reports on the eastern suburbs there has been speculation on what might happen to particular significant assets.

    Two such assets are QEII Park and Avonside Girls High School (AGHS). Each has been subject to speculation about whether the services they provide will remain at their current locations or be moved. One example is a newspaper article about relocating field sports from QEII park elsewhere (e.g. Addington) because of the magnitude of the damage done to the facilities and grounds. The water sports activities have already gone elsewhere.

    At AGHS there has been major damage to buildings and the land under and about the school. If there is a setback from the river then the land available to the school will diminish. The time required to remediate the land and rebuild the school, associated with a smaller parcel of land and a significantly changed catchment population, may mean the school will be relocated.

    If either, or both, of these situations come to be then the land they occupied will be free for other uses. If it happens that either site is suitable for housing then EQC and CERA should earmark the land for use by local residents unable to use the land they own, but wanting to remain in the neighbourhood. It would be most inappropriate for this land to end up in the hands of developers.

    Sunday, 22 May 2011

    Change to building standards for house foundations

    New Building Code documents came into force on Thursday (19th), increasing the requirements for house structures and foundations. All new houses must comply with the new standards which are designed to make houses safer, and more likely to survive significant earthquakes. It is estimated that the additional cost for a new house will be the region of $2,000 to $9,000.

    A rather technical information sheet covering the new requirements has been released by the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) and can be found here.

    An outline of the changes is available on the DBH website (see link above) and is reproduced below. For those living in areas subject to liquefaction the bits about foundations on 'good ground', or not on 'good ground', are important. I have underlined these.

    What is not clear is whether these requirements apply to houses where the foundations/slab have been damaged. Will the fully repaired house meet the old or new requirements? The cost of insurance may hinge on the answer.
    Inside the Canterbury Earthquake Region, the following changes apply:
    • A new definition of ‘good ground’ excludes ground where liquefaction and/or lateral spread could occur.
    • For bracing demand, replace Section 5 of NZS 3604:1999 with Section 5 of NZS 3604:2011.
    • The Canterbury Earthquake Region shall be taken as Earthquake Zone 2.
    • Piled foundation details and perimeter concrete foundation wall details are unchanged.
    • All concrete slab-on-ground foundations on ‘good ground’ are to have reinforcing steel.
    • All perimeter foundations must be tied to the concrete slab with reinforcing steel.
    • All reinforcing is to be Ductility Class E, in accordance with NZS 4671.
    • Minimum slab reinforcing is to be 2.27kg/m2 welded reinforcing mesh sheets (1.15kg/m2 in each direction) lapped 225mm.
    • Once slabs exceed 24m, a free joint must be formed as required in the Standard, except that there shall be dowel bars placed to minimise the risk of differential settlement.
    • Brick veneer tie requirements are to be determined from NZS 4210 for Earthquake Zone A.
    • Foundations where ‘good ground’ has not been established, are outside B1/AS1 and need to be subject to specific engineering design. In particular:
      • Where liquefaction and lateral spread up to 50mm is possible and there is perimeter ground protection, designs may be based on the Department’s ‘Guidance on house repairs following the Canterbury Earthquake’.
      • Outside this, ie, where there has been severe land damage, the specific engineering design must include appropriate geotechnical investigations. These areas are defined by the Christchurch City Council, the Selwyn District Council and the Waimakariri District Council.
    There is a ministerial release here.