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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Christchurch earthquake grant - for BNZ Customers with school-age children

BNZ Markets has established a fund to provide grants to Christchurch based BNZ customers with school-age children.

Applications must be accompanied by a statement of less than 500 words as to the reason for the application along with quotes or estimates of expenses to be incurred, or invoices of expenses that have already been incurred. Applications close on the 17th of June.

From the BNZ website:
BNZ Markets have up to $15,000 available to give away as community grants to Christchurch based BNZ customers who have been financially affected by the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The grants are available to families with school-age children to give a hand with expenses that are not already covered by insurance. Expenses may relate to education, sports, health or music – wherever you need help.
The grants are a result of fundraising events held by BNZ Markets in memory of a former colleague, Cayne Dunnett, who suffered a fatal heart-related illness in 2004. BNZ Markets have already donated $3000 to Plunket Canterbury for much needed infant car-seats as part of this series of community grants.
You are welcome to apply for a grant if:
  • You are an existing BNZ customer
  • You were financially affected by the earthquake
  • You are still living in Christchurch or the surrounding area
  • And, it is for a specific purpose related to a child or children still in full-time schooling in 2011, up to and including year 13.
The web page and application form are here.

Friday, 3 June 2011

CCC - water supply update

The CCC issued a media release yesterday advising the release of a map showing where work is required to repair and replace the city's water supply.

It is quite a daunting task. A total of 124km of water mains were damaged by the September and February earthquakes. So far 10km of pipes have been replaced from the September earthquake and 12km from February, which leaves a very large distance to go (approximately from here to Leeston and back, or if travelling north, about from here to Amberley and back).

The map, in PDF format, is here, and the media release here.

Just our part of the map is shown below. The red parts are where there is damage to the water supply, the green area represents the site of Avonside Girls High School.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Orion newsletter

Orion have released a two page newsletter online describing the current power supply situation, and the temporary measures being taken to secure electricity to the city. In the newsletter is a message for customers living in eastern areas: conserve electricity if you can, but make sure you keep warm.

The second page of the newsletter is a map of the major projects Orion will be doing in its 10 year plan for Christchurch. The newsletter, in PDF form, is here.

More Red Cross grants

The New Zealand Red Cross have announced two new grants to help some people over winter, and those with school children travelling significant distances to school.

Winter Assistance Grant for those over 65

From the Red Cross website:
Up to $400 per household paid over four months to assist with electricity bills
The aim of this grant is to assist people over 65 years who are living in their significantly damaged homes caused by either the September or February earthquake. The significant damage must include serious compromise to the insulation of their homes.
This grant assists people with their electricity bills over the months of June, July, August and September.
This grant is for up to $400 in total and will be made up of four monthly payments of $100 which will be paid directly to electricity retailer outlined on the application form.
There is a downside to this grant. You must be able to prove your house has been significantly damaged. If EQC or your insurance company have yet to inspect your house you won't be able to provide the necessary evidence of your eligibility.

To see full information on this grant, and find an application form, click here.

Relocated Children School Grant

From the Red Cross website:
$250 per child to be paid to the primary caregiver of each child who meets the criteria.
This grant assists children who are attending their existing school but are commuting a significant distance because earthquake damage to their homes have forced them to relocate.
Children who have been displaced from their usual residence, as at 22 February 2011, and have moved to a new residence as at 22 May 2011, which is located outside a km radius from their school.
The grant is for $250 per child to be paid to the primary caregiver of each child who meets the criteria.
Red Cross will be contacting schools to ensure the child or children is enrolled, and that the applicant is the registered caregiver. Consequently applications may take some time to be granted.

Full information and the application form are available from here.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Avonside Community Group Newsletter 31 May 2011

Another great newsletter from Leanne Curtis. The newsletter contains a large amout of information so check for the link that takes you to its continuation.

Hi people

We, like many others, are trying to decide whether or not we stick it out in Avonside for the long haul or rent for awhile to get a bit of breathing space. The pros and cons list is a confusing one and not made easier by the lack of sleep and endless waiting! It's certainly more difficult after February and I fear many have retreated from their neighbours as we all struggle to keep our own families going through the difficult winter. I always want to hit back at the people who keep commenting on the resiliency of the eastern suburbs. Of course many are feeling resilient and are happy with their newly discovered community spirit. However, there are those of us who have done this for a long time now and don't feel quite so able to help the neighbourhood in the same way. There has been a retreat from the 'we' to the 'I' and although it is very normal (according to disaster recovery research), it does make it more difficult to stay. On a positive note, at least the weather has been bright and the ground relatively still!


There are already a good number of issues around insurance being discussed – of course they are not in our favour.  PLEASE email me any issues you may be facing (if you are far enough done that track yet). I may not have answers but the more info we can put together the clearer the picture we get as to what is happening.

IAG and Hawkins contracts that people are being asked to sign read is if no one will be liable for repairs / building.  This has been presented to these two companies by CanCERN and the contracts are now being redone.  I will send you copies of these when they come to hand so you know what they look like.  Be careful about what you are signing.  -  Watch this space.

Word is that AMI are still going ahead with valuing houses in the eastern suburbs (whereas most other insurance companies are waiting until the land announcements shed some light). AMI appears to be trying to settle claims quickly by paying what is called market indemnity value and there are complaints that some feel bullied into settling. The word from a local valuer is that if anyone is considering settling, get good legal advice, read the policy very carefully and maybe even consider getting a second opinion on value. The issue with indemnity may be that the cost of rebuilding to current building codes exceeds the market value of your house. Full replacement insurance addresses this issue as the house has to be built to current codes and the costings are based on the current cost of materials.

Indemnity (Present Day Value)
An indemnity policy puts you back in the same financial position you were in prior to the loss occurring, so that you are no better or worse off than you were immediately before the loss. The settlement is based on how much you would pay for the item second-hand or the replacement cost of the item less an allowance (depreciation) for age and use. Indemnity value may also be referred to as Market Value or Present day Value. Your policy document will explain this for you.

CanCERN will work hard to negotiate cheap / free legal support for residents on a big scale.  In the meantime remember that Community Law (a free service)  has now set up an office in New Brighton next to the National Bank.
(click on the link to continue reading the newsletter)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Lockyer Valley, Queensland - land swapping out of the flood zone

Ages ago, in January this year, the State of Queensland suffered unprecedented floods which caused loss of life, and major damage inland and around Brisbane.

The Lockyer Valley was the worst hit area and parts of it are considered unsuitable, and unsafe, for housing. Residents living in Grantham, Murphys Creek, Postmans Ridge, Withcott and Helidon have been offered a voluntary deal by the Lockyer Valley Regional Council: swap your old land for a new section in a safe part of the region. Their scheme is on a much smaller scale than would be needed in Christchurch, but shows what innovative thinking can produce. One aspect more generous than our EQC based system is the provision whereby residents will get a new section the same size as their old one.

The basics of the scheme are:
  • it is voluntary
  • it is free
  • it is designed to allow residents to rebuild within their communities
  • residents will be allocated sections the same size as the one they are swapping (like for like)
  • residents nominate their three preferences for a section
  • sections are allocated by formal ballot
The scheme is summarised in a master plan sketching how the new residential area is going to look, complete with new social, educational and recreational facilities (surprisingly no cricket pitch!).

The Lockyer Valley Regional Council has a website here. Information about the land swap proposal is here and a fact sheet here. The diagram of the Grand Plan is here, and Stage 1 here.

A question for us is whether Gerry Brownlee, or CERA, are contemplating something along these lines. Perhaps they are. Hidden away on the "About" page (now on CERA's home page) is the news CERA has opened a RFI (Request For Information) process to establish the plans and needs of property developers for the next five years. The last sentence on the page is:
The outcome sought is to identify what type, location and quantity of permanent housing supply is likely to be provided within the next five years by the residential property development sector (for purchase or possibly rental) in the greater Christchurch area.
This can be found here.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Holy Trinity Avonside - fun day

A reminder: Holy Trinity Avonside are holding a community fun day in the car park of Holy Trinity Avonside (Lychgate Close – off Stanmore Rd) on Monday the 6th of June from 10am until 2pm (Queen’s birthday).

The day will be a day for the whole family to enjoy! It will have give-aways, as well as activities for children, and free bouncy castle and face painting. This is an opportunity for groups from our neighbourhood to fundraise or to raise awareness for their group.

What the Minister told the Councillors about land retreat

Councillor Sue Wells has a blog which is very, very good.

On Saturday she recorded what councillors have been told by Gerry Brownlee, and others, on the issues with the land, and how complex a problem it is.

If you read nothing else on the internet today, do read her blog entry What the Minister told the Councillors about land retreat which is here.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Insurance industry disputes Ombudsman - ISO

The Insurance and Savings Ombudsman (ISO) is a person and organisation established and funded by the insurance industry to provide a means for unhappy customers to have insurance related disputes resolved. More information on the ISO can be found here.

The ISO have released a new two page disputes brochure.  It is not a particularly informative brochure, but does outline the procedure to be followed with your insurance company before you can complain to the ISO, and what happens after the ISO receives your complaint. You can get the brochure here.

There is a certain amount of window dressing in the brochure. It lays out an optimistic view, set in circumstances that don't include the scale and size of damage arising from a major earthquake. Despite the number of times encouraging words are used in the brochure (independent, impartial, free, help) the ISO is part of a potentially tortuous and one-sided process. These problems are discussed here.

The Terms of Reference (rules) covering the ISO (here), include the limitations on what the ISO can look at, and specifies the process to be followed. Some of these limitations and processes are covered below.

Despite what the brochure may imply, the process for dealing with difficult insurance complaints is neither easy nor quick. It is not user friendly, nor transparent - imagine being involved in a court case where you can't state your own case, you don't have a lawyer, the judge is another city, you don't know what is going on until the end, and up to $200,000 is at stake.

The moment it looks like something is going wrong in dealings with your insurance company, seek assistance. Try your local community group, or CanCERN ( or Community Law Canterbury who provide free legal help (here). There is too much at stake to try and sort it yourself.

The limitations on what the ISO shall consider include:
  • claims exceeding $200,000 plus GST will not be considered by the ISO without the consent of the insurance company. (Some houses requiring major repairs, and the many more that are to be rebuilt, will exceed this amount. It is not clear whether the $200,000 amount includes, or excludes, the money paid out by EQC).
  • cases that should be dealt with elsewhere will be excluded (i.e. cases the ISO is satisfied should be referred to one of the following: courts, statutory complaints or conciliation services, mediation or arbitration).
  • cases which are also under consideration by some other process (e.g. as in the previous bullet point).
  • complaints will not be pursued if the complainant (you) has behaved unreasonably - in a trivial, frivolous, or vexatious manner, or in bad faith. (Don't get angry - get help! If your relationship with your insurer deteriorates, you get angry towards them, say what you think, treat them as they treat you, they may use this as evidence of unreasonable behaviour. If you feel that the staff of your insurer are treating you badly [anything from inefficiency or incompetence to rudeness or abuse] talk with someone about it before you do anything you can't undo).
The process is also covered by restrictions:
  • a complainant must give an undertaking to keep all information relating to an investigation confidential. (where a number of people share the same complaint they cannot share their experience in having it resolved. If this information is disclosed before the complaint is resolved the ISO will stop investigating the complaint.)
  • the ISO does not usually hold a hearing. (i.e. you cannot appear before it to state your case. The ISO is based in Wellington and has already stated an office will not be set up in Christchurch to deal with local complaints. The ISO will consider holding a hearing, but that seems to involve travelling to Wellington to do so.)  
  • the ISO is not bound by precedent.