How not to repair a building in the Red Zone – Part One

If you are unfortunate and cursed with bad karma, you administer a family owned building in the Christchurch CBD. Extra bad karma has the building in the Red Zone created by the earthquakes.

Consequently, you will have had limited access to said building for six months – and if you are truly unlucky it has been damaged by the collapse of your neighbour’s building. Worse would be to be in the path of the Grand Chancellor Hotel, which has not had a sheet of iron removed in seven months.

If you are devious, you will have managed to sneak into the cordoned off and patrolled Red Zone to get your records, computer and stock. (We retreived our stock, plates, artwork and accounts on 4 March 2011, in a series of 4 raids.  We wore the must have: fluro and hats, crawled around on the floor as CERA walked up and down the street as we passed files over the back fence and out the back door.  We got as much of the paper work and business equipment/artwork plates as we could fit on the ute.)  We were to find that this was a wise move because little did we know that the situation was going to get much worse.) These raids should not have been necessary. )

Anyway: More bad karma if, like me, your business relies on the use of 16 tonnes worth of heavy industrial equipment which you cannot remove nor are you allowed to operate it in situ (no power or water and a large hole in the front courtesy of your neighbour’s woes).

Cardmakers premises after the quake


Well, okay – how about getting the building repaired? Isn’t there some agency that’s been set up for all this? Yes and yes – the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, hereinafter referred to as CERA.

BUT – if this is the situation you are in, kill yourself now as it might be easier than dealing with the crap that is thrown at you.

Why do I say this? In six months, no one from CERA has approached us to see if they can help us, to see if they can keep our business operating (and we are only two metres from the edge of the CBD Red Zone boundary – not the centre!), or to offer any constructive suggestions.  One of the problems is the silly practice of Red Stickering the whole building, rather than looking at it and saying we could board off the damaged part and safely open the single storey, strengthened part of the building, our factory!  Too obvious I am afraid.

From what we have experienced, CERA is a failed model of disaster management; and the rest of New Zealand needs to be very afraid because this scenario could so easily be yours. My brother and I spend our days trying to get some business interruption insurance money out of IAG; dealing with CERA; trying to keep our company going after six months of lock out; and trying to get the building repaired.  I cannot apply for the dole because I supposedly have business interruption insurance; I am tired of this paper work, stressed and at the end of my tether. And no one at CERA gives a toss.

CERA is out of control in the CHCH CBD – they require truckloads of red tape, multiple layers of paperwork and they are so afraid of “risk” that the title ‘nanny state’ truly has a new meaning. Gerry Brownlee is so afraid of someone dying in the CBD that work on repairs is almost impossible.

To add to it all, all CERA paperwork is targeted towards demolition. They do not want you to repair your building. They have a paranoid fear that that a repaired building is dangerous.

Lovely situation to be in.


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