How not to Repair a Heritage Building in The Christchurch CBD…part 187

Marketing the CBD.

I note with considerable surprise that there is No Marketing Plan to encourage businesses and customers back to the Christchurch CBD.  I consider that creating a functioning CBD is one of the most important issues that the city faces.  We need to: encourage tourists to extend the number of nights they stay in the city,  encourage Business’s to migrate back to the CBD (not just bars and cafes), we need to encourage the locals back.    For this to happen it is necessary to get the business owners to re-engage in the CBD to bring an eclectic mix of businesses that are not duplicated in the malls.

This has not happened so far.  There are, in my view, a number of reasons for this.

  • The CBD is a mess, it is a constant series of road works that are being done in a hap hazard, ad hoc, incoherent, uncoordinated manner. We have dodgy footpaths, contractors vehicles and trucks parked everywhere,  as well as derelict buildings, empty gravelled dusty sites re-purposed as car parks, struggling cafes and bars, disillusioned bored and wandering tourists, a bus depot on one of the nicest central sites in the CBD and a marked lack of specialist shops.   The locals hate the CBD, can you imagine what a tourist thinks?
  • The lack of parking!  ( I will not even bother to discuss the one way streets system,that should have been removed)  that are now narrow and cluttered and the massive loss of car parking. The slow progress on re-building parking buildings is a farce.
  • Combine this with the lack of a decision regarding the repair of the Anglican Cathedral in the square, the repair/restoration of this building is a no brainer in my view.  It is a tourist icon/magnet!
  • The CBD is boring.  I have been watching the commentary trying to suggest that the CBD is Innovative & edgy. There is nothing in the CBD that signals Innovative & Edgy to me.   I notice in this mornings Press 18.10.16  “The Christchurch City Council announced on Monday that it would merge Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) and some activities undertaken by the council’s events unit, into a single organisation”.  It  looks like more tinkering and no real meaningful action.  Link Here:
  • Rents are too high. Until the rents come down, the CBD is not going to attract the eclectic mix that is needed to make it vibrant. It is the smaller retailers that add diversity.

I am puzzled that neither CERA/CCDU/Otakaro/CCC/Regenerate (or whoever is in charge now?) or the Central City Business Association (representative Paul Lonsdale) has not seen the need for some sort of marketing plan. Or at the very least some communication with the business/building owners in the CBD.  As a building/business owner in the CBD we have had no communication from any of these organisations regarding the long-term plans for going forward. Oh well, there is no point in trying to engage in a conversation with them, they know best.  Tui moment going on here!   (I disregard the communications we received years ago,  regarding the precincts plans, from the CCDU, that have been imposed on the city  (which are doomed to fail as they attempt to prescribe developments in certain areas and history tells us that this does not work nor create vibrant cities).

I see that Otakaro Ltd  still seem appears to be obsessed with art works and the building of monuments. These seem to be the only developments that they appear to be able to proceed with.  I notice that there is yet more work being done on the Margaret Mahy play ground.  Really?  It is time that they pulled their heads out of the sand and had a close look at the city. Spending more money on a play ground does not sort out the very basic issues in the CBD. Link Here:

It was with some surprise that I spotted this comment by  Otakaro Limited Chief executive Albert Brantley.  He made it when discussing the imminent closure of one lane of Durham Street, a major southward thoroughfare, for 5 and a half months.  “People are urged to keep supporting central city businesses, many of whom have endured years of rebuild road works, but to be aware of potential delays.”  Link here:

I wonder if he really has any idea of the colossal ongoing disruption that we have faced in the last 6 years?  (not only with roading) they are not letting the city recover.  Any business that remains in the CBD is likely to be finding life very difficult, there is a shortage of foot traffic, parking, access/egress is a nightmare,  both the locals and businesses have abandoned the city centre.  Those of us left want out.  There appears to have been no consideration given to anyone foolish enough to remain, let alone trying to assist them. We are in an information vacuum, lately the only information I can get comes from the developers rebuilding in our block, the Peebles group, and the workers on the roading contractors work force, who are doing their best to accommodate us, but are facing an up hill battle.  (I still have no ETA on when the road works will finish, so we can not reopen).

Why is no forward marketing plan?   I can make some very basic observations.

  • The Mayor, Lianne Dalziel, has long-held ties to the East side,  she has been balancing conflicting interests.  If she is seen to “favour the CBD” she faces criticism from the eastern suburb residents who feel that their roading and recovery needs have not been met. She needs to have a hard look at her priorities. She has them wrong.
  • The CCC seems to be operating in a silo,  unaware/uninterested about what is happening in the CBD.  They also seem to be desperately scared of making a decision, afraid that they will get it wrong perhaps?  In fact, any decision is better than no decision. At least we could try to make it work.
  • Her Councillors lack business experience and Paul Lonsdale (now an ex city councillor) as well-being employed by the Central City Business Association appears to have had a conflict of interest. It will be interesting to see if the new Central City representative Deon Swiggs, can improve the situation.  I look forward to seeing how he progresses.
  • Constant delays in the new building projects is sapping enthusiasm for rebuilding and re engaging.  The latest being Fletcher’s delaying their new housing development in the east frame. Link here:   as well as numerous CCC projects: Link Here:

ho humm  interesting  times.  I am not holding my breath for an improvement.

So Whats new in High Street.

  • I spotted this interesting link a few days ago regarding the High Street development  on the rebuilt Mckenzie and Willis site. Great work happening here.
  • I have been watching the latest High Street “issue” with a considerable amount of amusement.  The council has installed 19 traffic light poles on one small intersection.  I note that prior to the earthquakes this intersection had no lights at all.  It is a classic case of overkill. When you look at the intersection it is a sea of yellow poles,  definite case of  visual overload.  Link Here:
  • the CCC felt the need to defend the overkill in a follow-up article: Link Here:
  • Interestingly I see that there appears to be a similar number of light poles on the High/St Asaph Street intersection.  ( This new intersection is going to negatively affect the High Street traffic flow. It is going to make access/egress more difficult for High Street.)  The reason lower High Street was so run down pre earthquake was the closing off of the lower end of High Street in the 1960’s.  It took years for it to recover.  (early 2000’s)
  • I notice that some one has decided to call the new lane way behind the Duncan’s Buildings “Little Tuam”.  Humm not my first choice, I hope that this has not been set in concrete.  “Duncan’s lane” seems more obvious to me, in memory of the original land and building owner.  The Duncan’s Building was designed for Miss E.R Duncan, in 1905, who resided here and ran a stationery and fancy goods store.

Odd Spot.

I notice in an article in the Sunday Feature Christchurch News, August 31st 1957, an article about Christchurch pot holes.  Some things never change. Maybe we should reactivate this competition?

(We have just re-discovered these in our factory, the first Sunday paper printed in New Zealand.  Printed by A.B.D. Clarke from  August 17 1957 – April 26 1958,  for the publisher R.G. McGregor, at the registered office 232A Tuam Street Christchurch.)

They are on their way to the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington for safe keeping. As apparently these are the only copies in existence.  Nice one!


Sunday News Feature Christchurch August 31st 1957


How not to Repair a Heritage Building in The Christchurch CBD…

So whats new in High Street?  Update……

  • Sanity has prevailed and peace has broken out between  Gough/Carter/Issacs/Bridges et al and The Peebles group. This was in reality a stoush about tenants.     Links here:
    and here:
  • The road works occurring on our side of the city are being done in a hap-hazard manner.  There appears to be no attempt being made to stagger the repairs.  At the moment ALL of the south side of the CBD is a shambles.  For some reason known only to themselves, the CCC has allowed every street to be simultaneously dug up.  It creates ongoing disruption that never seems to end  and much of it could have been staggered over a longer period of time.
    This is a hopeless situation for any retailer trying to trade.  It is causing considerable frustration.  We could not access our building at all a few days ago, it was a real pain as I had heaps of parcels to cart back and forth.  Oh well.  SNAFU…..
  • I note that in Madras St near the Ng building , the street is still cordoned off by road cones.  Madras St is a major thoroughfare North.  CERA began to demolish a building there in 2011? and found out much to their surprise that it had a party-wall….   dur…..No attempt appears to have been made to resolve the issue.  So the road cones have remained in place for 6 YEARS . Surely we can do better than this.
  • We are still battling with our Amended Building Consent, the Engineer is holding it up, he is slow and over worked. Our Resource Consent Application has been approved, subject to some conditions –  ( that’s $2500 please…..)  and now  we have an Application for Emergency Authority (Historic Places Act) Order 2011, which was approved a few days ago, ye ha!  ( all for the 20sqm replacement/rebuild of a toilet block).  This last application is just in case we find heritage treasures under our old toilet block.

“This emergency authority has been created to carry out earthworks near archaeological sites to redevelop sites affected by the Canterbury earthquake and its aftershocks. The aim of creating an emergency authority is to streamline and simplify the authority process to undertake such work in accordance with the purposes of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011.”  It comes with a couple of pages of conditions which I won’t bore you with.  Heaven help you if you find anything.  It will cost a fortune and hold you up for weeks. The most likely find is some old crockery and a few roof tiles.


  • There was an excellent comment by Johnny Moore last week: ““God help you if you’re a small business owner or somebody who wants to invest and live in the city – this isn’t the rebuild for you. If the Government doesn’t scuttle your plans you can be sure the City Council will, because at the moment all of the support goes to the big players and the little guys who create the complexity that makes great cities are being shut down and eradicated by overzealous authorities one lot at a time”. Link here:

    Odd spot:   We had a Dutch cousin in Amsterdam ask the other day about how we were getting on.  We found ourselves “fudging the truth”.  This is not uncommon for those of us in Christchurch facing ongoing issues.

    How can I tell you that I still do not have a house after 6 years?
    How can I tell you that we are going to close our business down after 50 plus years?
    How can I tell you that we are all unemployed?
    How can I tell you that our building in High Street is still not finished?
    How can I explain about the many cases of PTSD in the city?

    I will stop now before your eyes glaze over, we do not blame you for not understanding.  Because we know that is what is happening.  As well-meaning as you are,  you do not really want to know about our problems, so we will say: that “we are making slow progress” we will smile and leave it at that. Thanks for asking.

    I note that straight after I wrote this I saw a similar comment by Garry Moore.

    Link Here:      “Travels and what people ask:
    I have been travelling a bit lately undertaking a project for Community Housing Aotearoa. We are talking to all of the political parties and analysing their policies on housing. It’s a fascinating exercise and I will write about this sometime in the future. However what I want to talk about is how people in the North Island, quite sincerely, often ask me how we are getting on now that the earthquakes have stopped. They ask what’s it like now that the city is rebuilt?
    It’s hard to answer without sounding a moaner. I mumble that it’s slowly coming right. Most people can’t believe that our family still lives in a house which our insurance company is fighting us over. They think it’s all sorted out. I smile nicely and say no it’s not, for us, and many thousands of other people”.

    sad and true….

The Protests at the Art Gallery/Civil Defence Headquarters March 2011…. for the record…

I note that my original post for the protest at the Art gallery has been removed by “the powers that be”, it was less than complimentary of Minister Brownlee’s behaviour.  So I have tried to collect as much information as I can to recreate the sequence of events.  Apologies for any errors and the length of this posting.  I was a history student and I hate my blogs being messed with, even if it was too colourful!  I am happy to amend this if someone can fill in any details I have forgotten or the time line is incorrect.

The business owners protests in March 2011 were initially organised by Kurt Langer, a photographer, with a business in Cashel street. He wanted to retrieve his equipment/tools of trade from his premises. Kurt Langer became a voice for angry business owners, those of us frustrated with the way the central city was being mismanaged, the lack of access, communication, as well as concern at the level of destruction that was occurring out of sight of prying eyes by out of control demolition teams.

This was posted on Facebook.17.3.2011

Christchurch City Council are tearing down private buildings without owner permission. Destroying the lives of the very people who can rebuild the city with what’s inside. Many people have lost EVERYTHING but it is recoverable. Meet for a peaceful protest against this illegal action. Walking from the Bridge of remembrance to the Art Gallery. TODAY. Thursday 4:30PM Christchurch time”

This is last-minute but please invite your entire network to help make this known and TURN UP the protests very quickly developed a life of its own as more business owners were informed of the times and place of protest. Blog spot :

Thursday March 17 2011:

OPEN LETTER: Serious concerns of many of the people of Christchurch City

Further to my post this morning about the travails of Christchurch business owners in getting their hands on the property in their businesses, protest leader Kurt Langer has sent this email/open letter out.

Please forward this email/letter on to all that you know who can help us make this happen!

The people of Christchurch who own businesses and buildings within the Central area of Christchurch have the following concerns.
1. We have lost faith in the competence and willingness of the Civil Defence and the Earthquake Authorities to be effective caretakers of our property.

  • Civil Defence is not adequately protecting property in the central city from looters.
  • Civil Defence is demolishing buildings and businesses without consultation and against the declared interests of their owners.
  • Civil Defence is destroying property without any due diligence or care about the value of what they are destroying.
  • Civil Defence does not even care to consult with owners of property in any meaningful capacity.
  • By any meaningful standard, the actions of Civil Defence are far more destructive to Christchurch businesses and business owners than the petty pilfering of looters.

2. We have lost faith in the ability of Civil Defence and the Earthquake Authorities to bring about meaningful recovery in the Christchurch central district.

  • If recovery has any meaning at all, it is the recovery of Christchurch businesses.
  • The “recovery” to date has been micro-managed, alienating the very individuals whose recovery is essential to restart business in Christchurch.
  • There has been no interest in working with the very people of Christchurch whose business it is to run business, rather keeping the attempted recovery within the hands of too few individuals.
  • Four weeks after the quake, and very little has been achieved beyond the original rescue effort. No surprise when the people who run Christchurch’s businesses are excluded rather than embraced.

3. We call upon the New Zealand Government to:

  • End the State of Emergency on Friday. With rescue and immediate recovery complete, responsibility, risk and stewardship for property should revert to its owners.
  • Immediately reinstate personal property rights, guaranteeing property owners the final say in the determination of their property.

We say: “Tear down this State of Emergency and let Christchurch businesses begin the job of getting back on their feet.



Kurt Langer

Background To the Protests:

  • The building owners had been locked out of the CBD by Civil Defense for about 4 weeks.
  • There was NO communication happening about when we could go in and retrieve our records or equipment. In fact none of us had had any communication with Civil Defence at all.
  • There was frustration and irritation at the steady stream of “dignitaries” being shown parading through the CBD in their hard hats and fluro vests.  The latest one was:  Prince William inspects Christchurch CBD.   Every so-called “dignitary” in the world from rugby player to royalty, as well as Rachael Hunter were being given guided tours of the CBD.  But we were not allowed in to get our possessions out.  Link here: Also Blog spot  has some good comments:
  • Civil Defence had been making all the decisions about which buildings to pull down without any attempts to retrieve possessions and many of the demolitions, even at this early stage, were starting to look suspect.  ie without proper Engineering reports.
  • The building owners were also hearing multiple reports of the wrong buildings being demolished, as well as only partially damaged buildings, often with the building owner not even knowing that this had occurred or having had a chance for the Insurance companies and Engineers to sight and inspect the building.
  • We also knew that all our buildings were insecure.  USAR  Urban Search and rescue, had been through the city like a bunch of wild animals, they had smashed EVERY door in the city, in their zeal and blood lust.  The excuse was that they were searching for bodies.  (If my memory serves me correctly in one instance they smashed every door, over 200? in one of the new hotels in the city, the keys were all available in the office. even the till had been jemmied open!)
  • The city was “leaking like a sieve” and we all knew of people who had been in raiding buildings.  There was a well founded perception that buildings were being looted, not only by thieves but also by some demolition contractors and others.

What you have to remember is that the Civil Defence organisation is a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs. They were given powers way beyond their abilities.

The First protest: Central Christchurch business owners urged to protest.  The Press: Giles Brown Thursday 17.3.11

“Central city business owners are being urged to gather together and protest the handling of demolitions in Christchurch this afternoon. Photographer Kurt Langer, who owns a studio in Cashel Mall, said he was asking people to gather at the Bridge of Remembrance at 4.30pm and then walk to Civil Defence headquarters at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Civil Defence was not allowing business owners to retrieve valuable material from inside the Red Zone and knocking down buildings without due consultation. He said the number of people who attended the protest did not matter to him. “It’s not about interest. It’s all about the city being flattened without anybody knowing and without anyone being able to retrieve any of their stuff. This is the worst thing that has happened to the Christchurch city centre. If no-one does anything about it the city will be flattened and they won’t worry one bit,” he said.

It was a relatively peaceful walk from the Bridge of Remembrance to the Art Gallery,  we blocked the major road heading north and did annoy the traffic, but that was just fun! When we arrived at the Art Gallery it started to heat up a bit. There was a lot of argy-bargy, hammering on the Art Gallery headquarters windows and demands for  “P .. F.. Brownlee”  or John Hamilton to come out and talk to us. They did not. ( the language was colourful but for accuracy this record needs to be  historically/factually correct.)

(This was reported as “They banged on the windows and told Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to come out and talk to them.” Andrew Koubaridis NZPA  ) Christchurch business owners protest demolitions  Link here:

In fact really they handled it very badly. Civil Defence had had warning that it was happening, I believe that they thought no one would turn up, they had underestimated the bad feeling that had been generated in the city. They were extremely reluctant to talk to us.  I remember we were given platitudes from all the speakers and the usual “it is very dangerous” speel.  We knew the risks!

There is some film of that day:  Link Here (click on the 3rd photo down)
A video of business owners outside the Christchurch Art Gallery protesting the lack of access to their buildings in the Red Zone. ( Note: This is a heavily edited version of the events.  The more colourful parts of the banging on the windows of the art gallery has been edited out).

This protest by approximately 30 people had an immediate reaction, by Friday Civil Defense was in full damage control mode.

On Friday 18.3.11, Civil Defence starts to “change” its thinking: Civil Defense calls rethink as Christchurch building owners protest.  Link here:

It became obvious to “us” (there was no group as such, just a loose bunch of angry small building owners, one with a computer and some minimal skills, another with a data base that they should not have had, one with some media and writing experience, we had no leader, no committee, no spokesperson, this had some advantages as they could not pick us off ) that we needed to follow-up this protest with a repeat performance. Discussions began immediately about another protest. So another email drop was prepared and sent out over the weekend, planning  to meet on monday.

Call to Christchurch Protest

Another call to action tomorrow from disgruntled Christchurch CBD business owners–you know, the folk who used to put the ‘B’ into the CBD.  Those good folk who know that for Christchurch to recover then Christchurch BUSINESS must recover.

Dear fellow ChCh CBD business owners,

It is now 4 weeks since the tragic earthquake of 22 February, and for most of us, we are no closer to knowing the fate of our businesses/buildings and when we will be allowed back into them to retrieve critical records, secure the premises as well as allowing Independent Engineers Assessments.

We must continue to demand our legitimate rights of ownership.

The business of Christchurch was business. Not anymore. The business of Christchurch, if you listen to the “authorities” is killing the very business that need to recover if Christchurch ever will. 

Those of us who have attempted dialogue with the council, civil defence or central government are simply fobbed off or given contradictory advice.  The meeting that none of us was invited to yesterday was intended only to fob off, not to inform.

When the person supposedly in charge, John Hamilton cannot answer basic questions like “which buildings have been deconstructed”? or “who authorised their deconstruction”?, then we all need to be not just worried, but in fact fearful as to what will be left of the CBD by the time we are allowed back in. The lack of leadership and control of the recovery effort is truly frightening.

“Business owners may have to wait over a year before they could return to the central city” – sounds like guarantee looting, demolishing and pillaging by the wreckers to me. The damage has been done–and is being exacerbated by the “authorities.”

Recovery is sadly the wrong word for what is going on, and in fact the opposite is occurring. Unnecessary demolitions and access delays is killing any chance of a recovery by the businesses expected to lead the recovery. What wasn’t destroyed in the CBD by the earthquake, is now being destroyed by a shambolic civil defence and demolition crew anarchy.

What are we going to do about it? Are we going to leave it to Gerry, John and Bob to sort it out, hiding behind the cordons and “authority” created by a state of emergency.

Some of us don’t believe they are capable or willing to sort it out within a time frame which allows our businesses to survive. Therefore, for the sake of our survival, we need to show them we want access to our businesses now,  not next week, not next month or not next year.

Come along again to the Christchurch Art Gallery, 2pm this Thursday 24th of March, and let’s present a united voice against the dictatorship under which the central city is currently operating.  

Bring your Placards or just bring your self. 


Christchurch Business Recovery Group.

So, 3 days later on Monday the 21.3.11 there was another protest.  This one was more difficult for them to ignore as it had got larger, 100 people.  It was accountants,  planning commissioners, Hotel owners,  Building developers, Jewellers and other leading Business owners from the central city as well as smaller retailers.  (This was not rabble or rent a crowd, this was a group of “respectable” business owners (mostly :-)) complaining about the treatment they were getting from government administrators.    This was unheard off and extremely embarrassing, it was nation wide news.

We were ushered in to the art Gallery, as they were desperate to get us out of public view.  We listened to some platitudes from John Hamilton about “It’s very dangerous in-there”  yeah right as if we were stupid.

This is where the infamous remark by Peter Townsend was made.  As documented by Rebecca Macfie, Listener 2.4.2011 Link here:

this link is a bit odd: try this

“Peter Townsend, boss of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, muttered on Tuesday as he ushered the protesters into a closed meeting with Civil Defence, that their actions were “a diversion of resources”. “We’ll get it sorted,” he snapped.”

The arrogance was staggering.  When did he plan to “get it sorted?” The tone he spoke in implied that we were idiots and that we should trust in his management skills.  yeah right.   say no more…..

If I remember correctly some people walked out.

What happened after that meeting was, I think, that the larger building owners were pulled aside and dealt with one by one, the smaller ones were ignored. It was about divide and rule. (A tactic that they successfully used for the next 6 years).

As we came out we decided to walk to the red zone cordon.  I can not remember the reason, but I do know that we felt that we had not had satisfactory answers to our concerns. This protest was much angrier than the first.

It ended with the “storming “of the bridge at Worcester st.  As we walked along with about 30-40  people heading for the red zone fence, I remember saying to Bruce Williamson that we had to keep going on through the cordon if we could and that we were going to only get one chance at this. I was hoping that the people following would back us up.  We milled around the intersection for a few minutes blocking the traffic, Bruce “poised for the camera with the personnel carrier” and gave them a hard time, them then we just walked up to the lone army sentry on the bridge, we calmly walked past him.  I remember him saying in a rather odd tone of voice, something along the line of “please be careful ma’am”.  I  assured him we were not going to do anything silly. So we “stormed the Red Zone”. There was no  “running past security” we AMBLED. If I remember correctly 2 building owners took off, one down Worcester st, and I think one down Hereford Street, they were chased by a cop on a bike.  They were eventually ushered out of the red zone before they got very far!  We wandered along the river towards the Hereford Street bridge and ambled back out again.  Some of us, me included,  with our arms twisted up our backs by some friendly and some not so friendly cops.

It was a symbolic act only. Very effective.

Christchurch business owners’ protest heats   21.3.2011

“This time the protests git a bit more heated. Protests from angry Christchurch business owners locked out of the damaged CBD have intensified today, with police physically intervening when several protesters went inside the cordon”.

“A nz video reporter at the scene said several protesters ran past security inside the cordoned off area this afternoon. While some came out peacefully, others were grabbed by police and physically removed”.

This is where the now infamous pictures of Joe Arts came from:

Joe being subdued!

Joe being subdued! He is very proud of this picture.  His bid for free speech!

Also the classic picture of Bruce Williamson getting friendly with a tank/armoured carrier or whatever it was!

The Army "protects" us says Bruce W.

The Army “protects” us says Bruce W.


The news over the next few days was about how dangerously we had acted.  We were buried in a tirade about “this is very dangerous” which was more amusing than anything.  No one seriously believed that we had endangered ourselves. The biggest danger that we faced was injury by policeman or more like seagull poo.  Use force to go in?  I hardly think so Superintendent Andy McGregor! It was a sunday afternoon walk in the park.

(I suspect that the police were as sick of Civil Defence as we were. They showed extreme reluctance to arrest anyone.  Mind you I am damn sure there were lawyers in our group  and they did not want this filmed going out live on nationwide TV.   It was an interesting day to say the least.  Eventually it all petered out and we all faded away.  No charges were laid that day even for the 2 runners!

“However, if it happened again people would be arrested: “The fact is if people are using force to go in, we’ll deal with it firmly,”  Christchurch Superintendent Andy McGregor said. I guarantee that no force was used, Bruce and I were the first past the Army security guard  on the bridge, the guard was mortified, he stepped back to let us past, and made a comment about staying safe.  He damn near let us in willingly.   A lovely very young man!  Link Here:  Christchurch protesters risking their lives – police

Here are some of the notes I wrote at the time: they have proved to be remarkably accurate. Sadly!

  • This is the only time I can recall in NZ history that Building/business owners have ever protested in this manner.
  • For 4 weeks we had attempted to contact the web sites, visited the cordons, been to the Art gallery headquarters, to try to gain access to our building.  We have been stonewalled and ignored at every attempt.
  • It was a token gesture to show our contempt for the way we have been treated.
  • 1 in 10 retailers in the CBD is closing down, estimate from Retailers Association,  (This figure is nonsense it will rise to over 70% after 3 years if I am correct!)
  • Less than 10% of building owners/operators have been allowed access to their building. Access depends on who you are.  There is a 2 tier access system.  Wealthy and others!
  • In 2 weeks 5000 inner city workers will be unemployed when the earthquake subsidy ceases.
  • The damage being caused, by “whole sale” bulldozing to the CHCH infrastructure is enormous.
  • No one seems to have realised that it is cheaper to repair and strengthen brick buildings to 100%  than it is to demolish them and then rebuild.
  • The wanton destruction of infrastructure shows a complete lack of Commercial experience, within the “Recovery Team”.
  • It is new buildings that have failed in many cases.
  • The constant parade of VIPs having access to the CBD make a mockery of the safety argument.
  • The gross breach of our property rights, misuse of the state of emergency, lack of information, contact and discussion is frightening in a democracy.
  • We do not even know (officially) what status my building is in?  (I was lucky to have taken photos of its condition immediately after the earthquake)
  • Why can’t I get an Engineer into the building?
  • Why is looting occurring?  and not being talked about?
  • Who is going to pay for the damage caused by USAR teams breaking down doors?
  • Who is signing off the demolition contracts and who is paying for it?
  • Why is no plan being given for a recovery access process,?
  • Why are we not able to start fixing/securing our buildings before the winter?
  • It is the building owners who will rebuild CHCH Not Civil defence or the government,  why not let those of us left start?

These notes make interesting reading 6 years on.  I was remarkably accurate in my assessments.

We followed it the next day again with a smaller protest.  Just so they would realise that we were not going away.

By Tuesday the 22.3.11 The politicians were in full damage control mode,  until then we had not heard  a peep out of any of them.

“Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove has slammed Civil Defence for failing to communicate with frustrated Christchurch business owners”.

“The protest (yesterday) should never have occurred. It was born out of a lack of basic communication. It should never have got to that stage,” the Waimakariri MP told NZPA Link here: Civil Defence blasted over Christchurch protest

Here is a summary from the : Central City Business Association.  The CCBA consistently followed the Civil Defence “corporate speak” line.  ie supported the establishment.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011 9:45 a.m.
Yesterday we meet with the business owners who were protesting outside the EOC. We invited them in to discuss their issues with the Civil Defence National Controller John Hamilton so we could understand the issues they felt needed addressing.
Main Concerns and Priorities
Security – Civil Defence assured businesses that they were addressing security issues and securing buildings that were left open post the quake. Some buildings could not be secured due to their state. Many felt that their businesses were open to the elements and many feared their business and personal possessions could be being looted.
Access – Civil Defence agreed that their were loop holes in this system and knew that some people were gaining access through their connections. This has now ceased and they plan to implement one policy, no exceptions rule.
Plan – Civil Defence is working on a plan for business owners to gain access to their buildings. They could not give a time line as some of these issues are tied up with critically damaged buildings and it will be SAFETY FIRST. They are not prepared to risk any more lives as we have already lost too much. They are doing their best and ask people to be patient  
I believe the meeting was a success and appreciate Civil Defence taking the time to talk through business owner issues directly. We have to understand the extent of the issues in the city and believe me photo’s do not convey the real damage the city has suffered. We all need to hold hands, work together and make sure we communicate in a reasonable manner with each other.
Kind regards,  Paul Lonsdale 

This was closely followed by :

Central City Business Association, Earthquake notice  Thursday, 24 March 2011 6:52 p.m.

Last night we met with the National Controller Steve Brazier, and Civil Defence Minister John Carter to discuss the growing tension being voiced and discussed ways forward to help resolve the issues. Below is a media statement highlighting the outcomes from that meeting.
Remember, the best way forward as a community is to hold hands and work through the issues positively.     Paul Lonsdale

24 March 2011, Media Statement       
Christchurch business issues addressed

Access to businesses in the cordoned red zone of Christchurch city is being addressed by the National Controller, Civil Defence Minister John Carter said today.

“Last night, National Controller Steve Brazier and I had a very positive meeting with representatives from the Central City Business Association, the New Zealand Retailers’ Association, Canterbury Development Corporation, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Canterbury Business Recovery Group,” Mr Carter said.

“Civil Defence is aware of the importance of restoring business activity in Christchurch and is working with these business leaders to address issues around access to vital records and property or stock by business owners.

“The National Controller will do a stock take of buildings within the cordoned red zone so business owners can find out about the current state of their business premises. He will work with the leading business organisations to find out which businesses are in the affected buildings.

“Then business owners will know if and when they can access their premises. The sooner they know that, the sooner they can start working with their insurance companies and plan for business continuity.

“This work will remain subject to safety of people and there will be some cases, due to the impact of the earthquake, where businesses will never be able to retrieve property or stock. Those businesses will be advised of that. However, as many owners as possible will progressively be allowed to access their property.

“Another issue raised at the meeting was security for businesses in the red zone and property that owners cannot access will be secured, for example, doors will be shut and locked. Any complaints about treatment of buildings or stock will be followed up.

“Reduction of cordons and better traffic flow and management around the inner city were also discussed.

“We understand the frustrations felt by business owners and believe it is important to keep talking positively with them to firstly hear about their concerns and then work to resolve them.”
Paul Lonsdale, Central City Manager, Business Association

Civil Defence quickly got their act together to improve the situation.  The very public humiliation that they had suffered was shown throughout the country.  It should in future be used as an example of how not to handle a disaster.

The protests gradually petered out over the next few days.  What actually happened is that the largest business/building owners got meetings with Civil Defense very quickly and they got “sorted out.” In fact amongst the smaller business owners there is still the view today that the large building/business owners were “picked off early” and it left only a small hard-core group of dissatisfied intransigent building owners.

Many of the smaller building owners could not afford the $1000 engineers fees that were required to get access to their buildings and had to join the “group access” schemes.  I have heard that these allowed in we  only given a very short access time, one hour if I remember correctly.  And remember you were only allowed to take out one wheelie bin of stuff!

(In our end of High Street many of the small retailers had to raid their buildings to get their stuff.  In fact, we helped some of them as we were the only building owner with any degree of access. In fact one business only got the remains of their stock out in 2014,  so the access programme was totally unsatisfactory for them).

As late as 5.7.11 There were still ongoing individual protests occurring as Business owners were still having issues saving stock:

So I hope this puts the records more or less straight.  If any one has any corrections please let me know.  Happy to amend!

3rd Earthquake pictures 038

22.2.2011 15 minutes after the earthquake.

How not to rebuild a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD….. apply for Building Consent/Resource Consent…

Hell’s teeth, there must be a better way of finishing this damn building.  My advice to any Heritage Building owner in the country is:  Don’t even consider repairing your building. Certainly not under the conditions of an emergency repair like we have had to face.  The bureaucracy is endless and getting more expensive by the minute. It is not worth it.  Either pull it down or walk away. (There do not appear to be any penalties for walking away, as has been clearly shown in Christchurch).

We are finally on the last leg of a very slow and long process.  The rebuild of a toilet block. 18sq metres.  Last week I applied for an Amended Building Consent to demolish/rebuild our very old not too flash “lean-to” toilet block.

It is a 1930’s – 1940’s classic New Zealand lean-to.  (Think third world). We suspect it was built by the apprentices of the Butcher who previously owned the building (Franklin).


Off to one side of this very attractive structure is a very old toilet.  I will not embarrass ourselves by showing you the photo.

Anyway,  not only do you have to apply for an amended building consent to build a new toilet block, you get to be really lucky if you own a “rare” Heritage Building in Christchurch, (and I can safely say that, as CERA pulled them all down, there are not many left)   you also have to apply for a Resource Consent.  (To prove that you are not destroying precious history.   She says with a smirk on her face).


I have just been issued with a Section 37.  Well,  I suppose that is a change from the Section 38 that CERA gave us in 2011.  ( A section 38 is “Make safe” issued by the Government).

When I had finished laughing about the Section 37, I see that it is a DO NOT Demolish or proceed with any building work.   The irony, with the Section 37, is that it comes with an expensive price tag of a minimum of $1200 for a non notified resource consent and up to $7500 for a notified consent. I have yet to figure out which one the powers that be will charge me.  Note:  received a preliminary Invoice today 25/8/16 of $2500 (5% of the total build cost of this toilet block)  This is as close to extortion as you can get.  Note to self:  I should not have propped it up and I should have demolished it earlier like every other building owner in the city did.

Section 37: Chapter 9 Natural and Cultural Heritage: 9.3 Historic Heritage: Rule – Restricted Discretionary Activities – Heritage Items and Heritage Settings – High Significance (Group 1) and Significant (Group 2)
The proposed works for the demolition and construction of an addition are within the heritage setting for the Duncan Buildings a listed significant Building (Group 2) and these works will require consideration as a discretionary activity.

So which one do I obey? The original Section 38 to make the area safe or the new Section 37 to NOT make the area safe.  Hope someone makes up their mind soon before the structure falls down.  In fact, if I undo that prop on the back wall I won’t have a problem will I ??   tempting..   One more shake should do it for me…..

The sad thing about all this is that they are chucking all the hurdles they can in our way, while the rest of the absentee owners surrounding us have walked away and abandoned their properties.  In 6 years neither CERA/CCDU/Otakaro/CCC  have made any attempts to deal with this issue.

The Law really is an ass.

Crazy city, totally messed up.

p.s. have a look at this video clip about:

Christchurch Dilemmas: How to rebuild the city’s heart video

I was at a meeting where James Lunday spoke in 2011,  he basically said then that they were stuffing the city up by pulling everything down. How right he was. He also told CERA to naff off in no uncertain terms. (sanitized version)  (It was a pleasure to watch then and still brings a grin to my face now 6 years later).

“Urban designer James Lunday visited the red-zoned central city immediately after the earthquakes in 2011 and has been returning to Christchurch in the years since. He sees the rebuild as a huge opportunity for the city.”

He also comments that “We’re still building a 20th century city – built for the car, wide streets, and no activity.” 

He is so right!

PPS:  It is flaming near impossible to get into High Street at the moment, it is a shame that we were hoping to open up our pop up shop in the first week of september.  FultonHogan/CCC are yet to give me an expected finish date.  Do not hold your breath…..



Note: The reappearance of the historic tram tracks.  Do you reckon they got a Resource Consent to take them out????  I doubt it.






How not to repair a Heritage Building in the Christchurch CBD, High Street Saga gets ugly…

My Gosh the saga continues, now the truth starts to come out.

I had prepared a blog weeks ago regarding this issue, which I have just had to trash as this latest Press article is a beauty.  I had been told many months ago that some Christchurch developers had been trying to delay development in this area, but the truth was even nastier than I thought.

It is a shame that I had to read about it in the Press.  The lack of communication with Otakaro Ltd on an issue that definitely effects our lively hood is slightly disturbing. A continuation of the status quo I am afraid.

I take my hat off to the Press and Nick Truebridge for pulling the OIA documents, which I need to work through carefully.  I will let you know if I find anything interesting.

I have always strongly suspected that the Duncan’s Buildings sale for redevelopment was deliberately stalled by CERA/CCDU  and I may never get an answer to this unsubstantiated accusation.  It may have been bureaucratic inefficiency  who knows, without pulling further documents it may remain forever murky.

The Press article points out that the delays were certainly not minimised by a group of self-serving, wealthy, Christchurch business owners. (With rather obvious links to the CCDU’s Warrick Issacs).

I think this group of leading “High-profile Christchurch developers” should hang your heads in shame.

A number of building owners in the Duncan’s Block, who have been attempting to do the right thing, await a public apology from you all… I have just seen hell freeze over.

Not only did you attempt to further stall development and recovery for the city  (and a number of small building owners, who you obviously don’t give a toss about) you have embarrassed yourselves publicly.

The Hall of shame awaits you.images.jpg

Documents released under the Official Information Act show developers Philip Carter and Antony Gough were among those who wrote to Crown company Otakaro urging it not to sell the High St Duncan’s buildings directly to Richard Peebles and his associates.

Also involved was: “Guthrey suggested a five year moratorium should be placed on the property sold that it not be developed for retail” and the “National Party board member Roger Bridge, also involved in the legal action, wrote to the Crown expressing interest in buying the land, but said he had no prior knowledge of Peebles’ interest.”

5 years ?  gosh we have already waited 6 years and you wanted to stall us another 5 years?  nasty…

I also notice that there was a letter from “Ballantynes” that has been withheld from the OIA documents, 10 June 2016.

Link Here:

Interestingly there was no mention of this issue in the OIA documents I received regarding the Duncan’s Buildings a number of weeks ago.  Obviously the wrong questions were asked.

I congratulate Otakaro Ltd,  Albert Brantley CEO on his decision to allow the sale of the Duncan’s Buildings to proceed.  It is a pragmatic decision, that takes into account the needs of the entire city, it considers Heritage aspects and regeneration of this area.  (As well as a few small building owners in this area who have stuck their necks way too far out).    Thank You.

Oh well, what a beautiful cold Christchurch day.  I hope this group of men choke on their coffees this morning as they read the Press.

P.S.  11.8.16  It looks like peace is about to break out:

I note that Christchurch Heritage Trust chairwoman  Anna Crighton made a pertinent remark in The Star 11/8/16:  “Those buildings, apart from the few that are privately owned, have been languishing there since the earthquakes and nobody bothered about them until Richard Peebles picked them up and decided to do something about them. Now all of a sudden other people want to buy them as well.  Well everybody had a good chance many years ago”.      A very relevant comment.

I look forward to seeing the street restored to its former, bohemian, Left-bank glory!

Incidentally here are a few of the latest High Street links:  Now a tad redundant!

NICK TRUEBRIDGE,  July 5 2016,  in the Business day section of the Press.

This was closely followed by an opinion piece by Tom Hooper on the 8th July in the Business day section of the Press. He comments that the last thing our city needs is legal challenges that hold up progress..  Link here:

Closely followed By



How not to Repair a Heritage building in the Christchurch CBD- now its road works time -CCC & Fulton Hogan

Just when a retail colleague and I were jointly preparing to open up our temporary retail pop-up shop,  to quit some stock before Christmas, the Christchurch City Council and Fulton Hogan Contractors decide to dig up our intersection on the corner of High/St Asaph and Madras Street.   Fine and dandy.

They started work on the 7th of June 2016.  As far as we can work out they do about 10 minutes a day, that is to move the road cones around.  This may be a “slight exaggeration”  may-be make that 1/2 day’s work every 5 days.  Progress is glacially slow. “Productivity” is not word that the contractors or CCC are bothering about.  AND its going to take till December before they finish!



This is the view to the right hand side of our frontage. The whole corner is effectively blocked off.

The little slip way on the left hand side of the photo is the only access and egress from the street. It would be retail suicide to try to open our pop up shop as it is nigh on impossible to drive safely into the street, let alone see where you are going.


P1010098.JPGThis is the view to the left hand side of our frontage.   Unchanged in nearly 6 years.

Now one would have hoped that the Councils brief was to aid recovery.  He he…..   yeah right!  As we have proved over and over again in the last 6 years, this does not appear to be the case.

Regenerate CHCH?, Council Liaison Persons, Fulton Hogan contacts…… ??????   who???????

There is really not much more that can be said.

On a more positive note I see that the new lane-way behind us is proceeding at a great pace.  It is a shame that it is now going to have to be partially fenced off as it is unsafe for the pedestrians to use it as it is within the fall zone of the back of the Duncan’s Buildings.   Seems to me that someone has got their priorities all wrong.  Again.


The new Duncan’s Buildings Lane way.

Ho hum another beautiful winter’s day in a very silly city.

How NOT to rebuild Christchurch

Jeepers, oh what fun…  I am glad that I have existing user rights for my repaired building. It looks like the “big boys from Cashel Street” are all throwing their toys out of the cot… and attempting to mire real progress in this area down in legal challenges.

They appear to have forgotten a number of very simple points:

  • The “Innovation precinct” moniker was an “after thought” throw away line thought up by some so-called “clever planner” at the last-minute of the design stage by the CCDU planners.
  • This block was always expected to have retail in it. It is “Mixed use”.
  • It is a block with a significant Heritage Building in it.  If they had bothered to ask me I could have told them that it was unlikely to be coming down and that it always was going to be small retail /office tenants.
  • This is a PR disaster for the CCCL.  Have they not figured this out yet???
  • Most of us cannot afford to rent in Cashel mall and DO NOT WANT TO.

Interesting is it not.

Here is an editorial published on Monday.   Link Here:

humm no comment.

Followed up by this in the Press:

“Peebles said 181 High Ltd’s consent was for 2200 square metres of retail and seven boutique retail shops would be created, not 55”.   (I can not come to 55 shops no matter how many times I count it up).

Followed up by Radio NZ:

  “ …  Antony Gough, the spokesman for developers taking court action, said investors in the Retail Precinct had lost tenants to Mr Peebles and other smaller owners on High Street. …”

Now we have incoming support for our new precinct:

Good comment by Shaun Stockman regarding the nature of the development.  “The people that will rent in lower High St are not the people who will be in The Crossing,” Stockman said.

Followed up by Johnny Moore’s comment column.

“Johnny Moore: High St stoush is ‘closed-shop behaviour'”

Nice one Johnny, my sentiments exactly.  “Reinforcing stereotypes that Christchurch is an Old Boys Club where old families and old money control things, CCCL is made up of the Christchurch elite”.

I also resent my rates money being used to fight this legal stoush. 

Also, I might add, A director of CCCL is Warrick Issacs,  the ex director of the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).  how can this be?

ho humm.   Another day in a very weird city.

Apologies for the caution shown in these last few posts.  I may end up in court as well as I am in the Innovation Precinct and I am in retail as well. lol