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Saturday, 5 November 2011

ChristChurch Cathedral update

There are two new updates concerning the Cathedral.

The Church has released information about the state of the building, the planned deconsecration, and the subsequent partial demolition. This news release is available from the Cathedral website here.

CERA yesterday released what it calls The Christchurch Cathedral File on its website here. From the CERA web page it is possible to download the whole file (major download at 66MB) or parts of it. Unfortunately the CERA server, as of last night, does not support download resuming. This can be frustrating with large files. For those with slow internet connections the risk of having to try repeatedly top download a file can be reduced by using the option to down a section at a time.

The full File is made up of 460 pages going from the most recent (2 Nov 2011), back to shortly after the February earthquake. It is sort of in date date order, but only just, with recent material as likely to be found at the back as the front. The File has a large number of documents and no page numbers. The page numbers referred to below are from the PDF page numbers of the full document, and will not be the same in other versions.

Friday, 4 November 2011

EQC FAQ update: Land remediation timeframes and dwelling claims

The following is from the FAQ part of EQC's website which, by my calculations, was updated with these additions some time yesterday.

How do you fancy having your land repairs managed by Fletchers or your insurer? Do you know if your land assessment has been done? Read on:


The land claims FAQ is here.

What are the timeframes for land repairs, given that they will in some cases delay building repairs?
For repairs being managed through the Fletcher EQR programme, land repairs will be managed as part of the overall repair programme on each property, and the timeframe for land repairs is essentially the same as for other repairs. EQC and Fletcher EQR hope to make an announcement on specific timeframes soon, but this is a project on a very large scale, and it could be a matter of years before it all work is completed.
Who's doing land repairs (if under cap)? Is it Fletcher EQR?
For properties being managed by Fletcher EQR, all work will be done by accredited contractors, including land repairs.
Who organises the remediation of my land if I’m over cap?
Your land repairs are done as part of the total programme of repair to your house. If EQC is doing the repairs to your house through Fletcher EQR, EQC will organise the repairs to your land at the same time.If your house repair is being managed by your insurer then the land repair will either be managed by EQC or your insurer. The options will be discussed with you prior to your repair commencing.
Does my land need to be remediated before the foundation work can be done?
This will depend on the extent and nature of land damage. When are land assessments being done? Is there a list of suburbs where land assessments are being carried out? Land assessments will be completed by Christmas. If your land assessment has not been done yet, contact EQC. {NOTE: How would someone know of their individual land assessment had or hadn't been done?}

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Photographing the loss of Avonside

A photo documentary project has begun to record a number of post-earthquake personal experiences. It will, over a period of years, record the lives of some Avonside residents as they and the suburb experience the after-effects of the earthquakes.

It is intended the project will result in a public exhibition featuring the people and events, potentially a book, and a significant oral and visual record of what happened to the suburb and some of it's people. The material gathered will become a significant record and educational resource in the collections of the A Place in Time Documentary Project.

The aim of A Place in Time is to record the city of Christchurch and a cross-section of its people through photography, oral history and documentary writing. Since its establishment in 2000 it has produced an extensive archive of exhibitions, books, and educational projects under the directorship of Glenn Busch. Many of the projects have resulted in highly acclaimed and widely publicized exhibitions such as My Place (Glenn Busch & Bruce Connew), Red Bus Diary (Tim Veling) and Caring for the Dead (Bridgit Anderson).

The project is being undertaken by a team of three. Leader of the team is accomplished documentary photographer, and University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts lecturer, Glenn Busch. His role will be to spend time with the participants to record their lives prior to the earthquakes, their earthquake experiences, and how life unfolds for them as Avonside is depopulated, homes demolished, and lives begun again somewhere else.

The two other project members, who will be taking the photographs are:
Bridgit Anderson - photographer and manager of the University of Canterbury's A Place in Time Documentary Project and responsible for it's education programmes. Bridgit will spend time with the participants getting to know them and photographing them to accompany the stories recorded by Glenn.
Tim Veling - photographer and University of Canterbury photography lecturer. Tim will be recording the buildings and landscape as it changes, and has already started doing this.

If you are an Avonsider and would like to be considered, or would like more information about being involved, please send an e-mail to Bridgit Anderson with your name, address, e-mail address and telephone number. Bridgit's e-mail is If you don't have access to, or use, e-mail Bridgit can be contacted on 355-0473

For those who like technical details: Tim will be photographing with a large format 4x5 film camera (see Tim in action in the photograph above) shooting Kodak Portra. Bridgit will be using 35mm black & white film. Digital is different, not better. Amongst other things film is significantly more archival than digital images so the record of the project will last for very many decades.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Green-blue TC3 land and the potential for insurance problems

Back on the 9th of September there was a blog entry about insurance companies and how they might decide that not all properties in the green zone can be repaired because of damage to the land underneath (here and as reported by here).

Gerry Brownlee's media release from last Friday (here) states:
"The information released today will allow homeowners with damaged properties in the residential green zone to get on with the process of repairing or rebuilding their homes with greater confidence," he said.
Greater confidence is a start, but certainty is needed. Has the government discussed the status of TC3 land with insurance companies? Do they accept that land classified as TC3 is safe to rebuild on? What reservations do they have?

Once more we come back to the four points raised in the earlier blog:
  • Will the "damaged land, repairable house" scenario arise in the Green Zone as well?
  • Will insurance companies take upon themselves the power to unilaterally declare little "Red Zones", perhaps as small as a single section, if they feel their financial exposure is at an uncomfortable level?
  • Will insurers, in effect, be the only group with a re-zoning opportunity available to them?
  • If this is permitted by the government then what integrity attaches to the initial geotechnical decisions?
Might be a topic for the community meetings CERA are apparently going to announce next week?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

We need to have meetings in response to land zoning announcements

Below is the text of an e-mail sent yesterday morning to Brownlee, Sutton, Parker and co. from CanCERN. CanCERN is an organization representing a large range of community groups, including our own. 

For those affected by the Friday zoning announcements, CanCERN has asked for meetings to be held where residents can be told of the significance of what has happened, the issues and difficulties that remain, where to from here, and ask questions and get meaningful replies.

CanCERN represents us, and many other community and residents' groups in the greater Christchurch area. Failure on the part of Brownlee, Sutton, Parker and co. to cooperate with this is, in effect, ignoring the obvious needs of the community.

The e-mail was sent to Minister Gerry Brownlee, CERA CEO Roger Sutton, Mayor Bob Parker plus Michelle Mitchell, Ivan Iafeta, David Ayers, Kelvin Coe, Simon Markham, and Sandra James (click on the link to read the e-mail)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Are Australian insurance companies shonky?

The answer is yes, in the view of Australian consumers group Choice.

Choice announced the 6th annual Shonky Awards recently and the Australian insurance industry was top of the list. The reason why the industry was given an award is here and in more detail here. Some of the specific reasons behind the selection were:
  • Policyholders dissuaded from making claims Insurance company staff talked policyholders out of lodging claims at the first point of contact. Policyholders were told over the phone not to bother because they wouldn't be covered, even though no claims assessment had been done. Some of these policyholders were able to lodge claims after repeated attempts.
  • Claims summarily dismissed Claims were dismissed out of hand without any investigation. One company dismissed claims based on aerial photographs and said it would not send an assessor to the property. In at least one case, the photographs were taken after the flood waters had receded.
  • Verbal assurances conveniently forgotten Verbal assurances from company staff or company reps that properties were covered for flood were dismissed or denied after claims were made. Many policyholders said they were verbally assured that their homes were covered for flood, but insurance companies routinely claimed they had no physical record of such conversations. That meant the promises didn’t count as evidence during the claims process. Insurers often claimed to have no recordings of calls in which policyholders were assured they were covered.
  • Confusing and complex claims process Many policyholders were subjected to a lengthy, confusing, misleading and rude claims process. Assessors sped through inspections showing little interest; promised deadlines were not met; after lengthy delays policyholders were told that the insurer was still waiting for assessor and hydrology reports or that the final decision was still under review. Some claims were still not processed six months after they were lodged.
  • Communication ‘clear as mud’ Letters from insurers about whether a claim was accepted or denied were so convoluted that some policyholders required a lawyer’s assistance to determine whether the insurer has agreed to pay or not. This crucial information was often buried in a sea of indecipherable verbiage, often toward the end of the letter. Many lawyers also had trouble figuring out what the letters said.
Much of the assessment was based on information provided Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ), however they were also influenced by the attitude and observations of government ministers.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Access to property specific land information.

The Department of Building and Housing has released a document called "Preview of the update to: Guidance on house repairs and reconstruction following the Canterbury Earthquakes". It is a preview to changes being made to the original document released in December last year.

The Preview is available here, and the original document here. The updated version will be released in November 2012.

The Preview contains a mixture of stuff. Something that caught my attention is Section 3.1, bottom right hand corner of page 5, which reads (2nd para is the important one):
Technical Category (TC) and other land information can be obtained from a CERA website: The website will advise residential property owners and their insurers of the foundation Technical Category appropriate to their specific site.
Insurers, their Project Management Organisations (PMO’s), Building Consent Authorities, designers and builders will have access to the Canterbury Recovery Orbit website, as necessary. This will enable access to Technical Category and existing geotechnical information specific to the site, provide a means to enter geotechnical data collected and facilitate building consent applications.
It does seem that data gathering at a very specific level is not only well underway but also being collated with the purpose of making it available to everyone except the property owner. I haven't yet located anything about the Canterbury Recovery Orbit website that is mentioned in the second paragraph.