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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tower insurance - some not so good news

David Haywood, who lives in Avonside Drive towards the Medway footbridge, is in the Red Zone. Yesterday he rang Tower and they gave him some bad news - his house is not a write-off so Tower won't give him a replacement house. Tower's view was that demolition of his house because of a government decision was not their business.

The full story is on David's blog here.

Other insurance companies respond to the land package

The following companies have created web pages outlining their response to the land package. Click on the company name to go to their site.

When reading the information on these websites do not take them as the last word on the payout scheme. The fine detail has yet to be worked out, and some of what has been announced may be fine-tuned over the next few weeks. If anything appears wrong or harsh let me know.

BNZ who ask their customers to fill in a questionnaire to help them understand the impact of the package. BNZ are also offering a Christchurch Resilience Package for all owners of residential property inside the red zone, who are eligible for and take up the Crown Red Zone assistance packages.

IAG are apparently preparing comprehensive information to be released for their clients in a few days. IAG  insurance is offered through Lantern, NZI and State.

So far the most useful insurance company information page is that by Tower, here.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Thank you Gerry

Last night a number of us went to a very useful televised meeting on the corner of Retreat Road and Keller Street. TV One's Mark Sainsbury was interviewing Gerry Brownlee with local residents, followed by a short interview with Roger Sutton.

We have had meetings in this area before, and ages ago there was one on a hot, dusty afternoon where Roger Sutton rolled out his now famous diagram of Orion's issues in getting power through the city and into our homes. Organised by local MP Brendan Burns it was a very useful meeting, complete with a side show. The mayor turned up to take part and get into the photographs. An unnecessary distraction, he arrived in an army vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier I think, accompanied by army personnel and a small contingent of Australian police. Brendan Burns came in his little electorate car bearing gifts of dust masks, bottled water and hand sanitiser. Legend has it Roger Sutton arrived on a bicycle.

A lot has happened since then. So many have wanted and waited to see the way out of the misery that parts of the city have become. The package announced yesterday is intended to provide that. A huge amount of effort has gone into preparing it, and the government has done what it can to balance the needs of Christchurch with those of the rest of the country who are helping to pay for it. Behind all this no-win situation has been Gerry Brownlee. While some Redzoners will not be happy with the government's offering, and many Orangers are wishing it was all done, it does not detract from the fact it is a pretty good package. For the first time in nearly ten months the hardest hit of homeowners have options to restart their lives.

Last night the dignitaries arrived quietly by car. Despite the possibility of an unfriendly reception the Minister arrived with just two of his staff and, if there were any security people present, they were invisible. No fuss, no pomp, and as direct to the point as a politician is able, the minister answered questions about the land package as best he could. When his turn was over he hung around for questions from those present. Having worked in central government I know how hard, unrelenting, unappreciated, and unrewarding working life can be for a politician, let alone a minister with an incredibly difficult portfolio. So thank you Gerry.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Tower Insurance on the land package

Tower have published a very useful information page on how the land zones affect their customers, and how Tower will respond to clients in the Red Zone. Part way down the page is a quick check list of client situations, and Tower's obligations in each of the circumstances.

A good and not very long read, even if you aren't insured with Tower. The information page is here.

For those outside Christchurch

Everyone in Christchurch is up to their ears in the land package. As about 30% of the readers of this blog are outside Christchurch (with 18% of those outside NZ) the following is a brief list of links that may help you to get your head around what is going on.

The basis of the whole thing is that residential land has been divided into four zones:
  • Red - the land is unsafe and is to be abandoned (5,000+ residential sections)
  • Green - the land is safe to live on (although some land repair work may be needed)
  • Orange - due to the possibility of damage from the 13 June earthquake, further assessment is required after which the land will be reclassified either Red or Green 
  • White - either hill suburb land, which will be assessed in spring after winter rains and freezing have identified hidden problems, or non-residential land.
Those who are in the Red zone are eligible for a government payout for their house and land, or of the land only (with the insurance company dealing with replacing the house). The payout amount received is equal to the rateable value of their land (and house if applicable) on the 3rd of September 2010.

There are two main websites associated with the land package: CERAs,, and the land status database  Between them they should provide all the information you need.
  • an FAQ covering the process is here.
  • to check on the staus of the land for a particular address go to the web page here.
  • a map of the city and environs showing the zones is here.
  • land payout examples are here.
  • The CERA support resource page is here.
Both the Christchurch Press and New Zealand Herald have on-line editions with articles on the land package. The Press is here and the NZ Herald here.

Land announcement day

Before the day is over many of us will have received what we've been asking for - an answer on the status of the land, and how that affects us personally.

A few things to keep in mind until we get to see the map:
  • today's announcement covers some of the worst affected areas. Other areas will be added over time. 
  • not all areas have had their geotechnical surveys concluded (there were geotech people measuring things in Cowlishaw and Galbraith streets yesterday). Consequently the status of some addresses could change (most likely to a worse land quality than the initial assessment)
  • not everyone in the named river suburbs will be receiving the package, or at least not in the first round of announcements. This is a deduction based on numbers. Gail has worked out from Government statistics for 2006 that there were just over 7,000 dwellings in the areas named (Bexley, Avondale, Dallington, Burwood - Horseshoe Lake and Avonside - assuming Statistics and CERA use the same geographical boundaries). This number must have increased since 2006 so, with up to 5,000 being offered packages, there must be a balance well in excess of 2,000 which are undecided, on safe ground, or a mixture of both.
  • there is a 9 month period during which you can consider your options. No need to decide anything until you have had a chance to cool off
The key word in the softening-up announcements made last night was offer. Those concerned will be made an offer. Wherever there is an offer there is an opportunity for negotiations. So, if you aren't happy with what is announced, don't worry. There will be time to tackle issues such as valuations and whether the purchasing power of the money offered is sufficient to allow reinstated to something similar to what existed on the 3rd of September.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The upcoming land information release

Last night I attended a CanCERN meeting. The main speaker was CERA CEO Roger Sutton, who was there with three of his staff.

The following are my gleanings from the meeting.

The Package - a partial release
  • The information soon to be released is not the whole package, as work is continuing on some parts of it.
  • What will be provided is the status of land in the eastern suburbs.
  • The identification of areas at risk from rock falls and hill instability will occur later (no indication when).
  • Shortly (timing not indicated but apparently not far away) information will be available on new housing locations and the cost/prices for each area.
  • Announcements on the financial aspects of the packages are a bit further down the track as there is a huge amount of work involved in discussions with insurers and reinsurers.
How will people find out?
  • While widely considered the most desirable option, property owners are unlikely to get individual letters. It is too big a task to coordinate so that everyone finds out at the same time.
  • The most useful, but acknowledged as not being universally applicable, means of providing the information is via the internet. CERA is setting up a website for this purpose.
  • It is likely the media will give priority coverage to the identification of the areas etc.
  • Both the website and the media will provide information on hot line numbers you can phone for information on the status of the land.
  • Community meetings will be held within 24 to 48 hours of the announcement. Representatives of the various social service agencies and other organisations will be there. Details of the meetings will be released very soon after the land information announcements.
What information will CERA have on the website?
  • The website will be designed so interested parties can enter a street address and find out the status of the land. This will allow those out of Christchurch (or the country) to have equal access to the information.
  • Anyone can look up any address. Trying to add a level of security (e.g. using a rating number for identification purposes) is too hard, and likely to delay and frustrate far too many people for whom life is complex enough.
  • There will be a map on-line where the status of areas, streets, and addresses can be identified by the colour code used.
  • The maps are as definitive as possible, however not all the geotechnical investigation is complete so there may be some small areas of uncertainty.
  • The website will have information on hot lines to be called.
What help is available to those who are affected?
  • An analysis has been underway since the first earthquake to identify the vulnerable who may need particular assistance. It was reassessed after the February earthquake and is the basis for what is being arranged.
  • The support needs that have been identified will be provided by established government and NGO services.
  • All who have been identified will be contacted and attempts to make contact will be continued until it happens (e.g. if an initial attempt is made by phone, it won't matter if someone is not home; those concerned will keep trying until contact is made).
  • A small core of people have received training in pastoral care, and other forms of support are being prepared.
  • Information about what support is available will be publicised. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Avonside Community Newsletter 21 June

Leanne's latest newsletter is here.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Holy Trinity Avonside - saving the west gable stained glass

There is a possibility that the stained glass in the west gable can be saved, but it needs to be done urgently. There is more information on the Holy Trinity website here.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Gerry Brownlee on TV ONE's Q+A programme

I've just read the transcript of the interview between Paul Holmes and Gerry Brownlee on TV ONE's Q+A programme today. You can read it here, courtesy of TVNZ and (Note: the transcript is in a raw state). You can replay the interview here.

There has been criticism that Gerry Brownlee talks a lot about nothing but there is a good deal of information in what he says. Perhaps part of the problem is Gerry doesn't have the demeanour or delivery of a television presenter. In the case of the Q+A programme the usual inadequacies of Paul Holmes (not well informed, quick to interrupt and overly fond of his own voice, not following up on some of the key points) interfered with an important opportunity to glean more information.

Whatever the problem, there is information in what Gerry Brownlee is saying. The important bits for me of what he said were:
Liquefaction: "So, liquefaction alone is not a reason for abandoning land.  There are other factors, and they're all being categorised and measured against individual sections as we speak." (emphasis added).
Other factors: "I think one of the clear issues will be the capacity of that land to hold housing in a safe way.  And there is a balance point, too, between what is economic and what's not." (at this point Holmes interrupted and moved away from the topic before Gerry Brownlee could mention the other factors) .
Increased damage: "Well, we got a 6.3 shortly after that ... And what we observed is - and I think this is a very important point - is that there was an intensification of damage in the most damaged areas; residentially, a couple more areas that become more questionable; ..." (emphasis added).
Should people in Bexley and Avonside still shovel silt: "Well, I think if they want to stay in those homes for however long it may be, then yes. "
Will whole suburbs go: "And I think the other point is there is a perception growing - and it certainly hasn't been driven by me - that it is entire suburbs that will go.  I think, uh, that may be the case in some places; it's more likely to be streets or houses.  And I think that also presents a bit of a problem.  The problem here we've got, in essence, is you can't communicate what you don't know."

Sue Wells - the Stockdale Paradox

An interesting blog item on emotional survival in desperate times from Sue Wells (here).

Charge your phone using boiling water or an open fire

Warning - gadget alert!

Something a bit out of the ordinary for those still in a preparedness frame of mind - charging your cell phone, radio or torch via boiling water or other heat sources. It works with any device that charges via a USB connection.

The Japanese charger is about to be released for sale. No idea what the exact price will be, but likely to be close to US$300. See the website here.