High Street A National Disgrace- part 135

  • Locked out of undamaged factory for 1037 days – (since Feb 2011)
  • Do we still own our building????    Now 510 days since designated “South frame, Innovation Precinct” – only 1317 days to go before we get told if we are going to be compulsorily acquired by CCDU.
  • Innovation precinct Plan Due:  September,  October,  November 2013 December????  Rumour has it not till march !!!!!

Still waiting……

It is now 3 years on… and what has been achieved in High Street and Christchurch?

Well… the Press has just done an editorial on the “doughnut city centre.”   This has made me laugh. The property developers amongst us have been talking about this for 3 years.  It seems incomprehensible that it has finally dawned on the “powers that be” that this is what they have created.


The article is referring to the re-start mall. The editor makes the comment:  “Without it there would have been practically nothing to suggest that a vibrant, dynamic, interesting city centre might one day rise from the ruins and Christchurch would have been in real danger of becoming, for some time at least, a doughnut city – a city with a hole in the middle.”

We all know the city has a “hole in the middle”.  It is simple:  Basically the Red Zone lock out stopped development in the central city area.  Access has been the issue, or more importantly the lack off.

Also John McCrone has written a very thoughtful article in the press.  Well worth reading.


I rather liked Gary McCormick’s comment about Christchurch people’s perceptions being changed: “Radio personality Gary McCormick struck a convincing note in saying that the recovery experience – particularly the insurance wrangles – will leave Christchurch changed in ways the Government does not yet seem to realise.”

“We’ve turned Canterbury people into a group who were formerly pretty respectable, decent, by and large white and middle-class people who thought the system worked for them, into people who have no faith in the system at all.” 

This is going to have long-term implications.  We no longer have faith in any authority to make the correct decisions for us.  The list of the failures is comprehensive:  A short summary looks like this:

  • Insurance companies.
  • Insurance Brokers.
  • EQC:  The government made no attempt to sort out our EQC troubles.
  • Lawyers: many of whom have failed their clients in assisting to resolve their Insurance issues.
  • Politicians: None of whom served the people well.
  • Local body politicians, ie Christchurch City Council, The Mayor, the City Manager.
  • Heritage!  There is not much left, they pulled it down. The silence from the Minister of heritage has been deafening.  And “Just when you thought you could relax and forget about heritage battles for a few weeks the document we have been waiting to see for two years finally arrives, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s draft Heritage Buildings and Places Recovery Programme for Greater Christchurch.  You can download the draft from the MCH web site at http://www.mch.govt.nz/Draftheritagerecoveryprogramme. A rapid skim of the document suggests that it is too little too late and that it is more than anything, an exercise in window dressing. Submissions are due in March 2014 so its eventual ratification will probably coincide with the completion of CERA’s Heritage Demolition Programme.”)  Comment courtesy  of Ian Lockhead
  • CERA, CCDU, The Property Group.  All bodies tasked by the Government to assist recovery.  They used a “top down control approach”.  It was a bully boy tactic and has alienated a huge proportion of the community.  Our new Mayor Ms Dalziel  “slammed the Government for imposing a top-down bureaucratic model when the experience of every other world disaster is that recovery plans should form from the community up.”
  • The “purchase” of 10,000 family homes.   If you estimate that there were 4 people in each house. That is 40,000 people that have been removed from their houses.  In some cases, this was not necessary.  Approximately 10% of the population, now angry and bitter.  These people have been forced to purchase in the outlying suburbs of the city.  They now pay rates in Rangiora, Waimakariri, Timaru.  This has devastated the cities rate base. Also the loss of rate base in the CBD will be hurting the coffers off the city council badly.  (The next move for the Government will be the merging of the outlying areas into a “super city”.  They have no choice. They have to claw this money back.) They have already begun this procedure by seconding CERA staff members to the local health board.
  • Housing shortage: The rapidly rising cost of rental accommodation in the city is hurting families.  A rent freeze needed to be put into place.  Many land owners have been gouging. Rental accommodation is almost impossible to find for many of the cities less wealthy, non working inhabitants.  As I am finding out.  This also has caused a lot of resentment. The Government has for 3 years stated that there is “no housing crisis”. yeah right!
  • The Red Zoning of properties.  In some cases 3 years has passed and people have been told only a few days ago if they are allowed to stay or go. In some cases red zoned houses have been re-zoned Green.
  • Add to this the fact that many of us have been living for 3 years in appalling conditions.  We have spent 3 years waiting for our homes to fall apart in the next big quake.  There appears to have been no attempt made to sort out the worst cases first.  The Insurance companies repaired the cracks in the houses in Bishopdale and Fendalton first and ignored the East side and the Hill suburbs, where the damage was most severe.
  • There is now a distrust of Engineers, Builders, Painters, Plasterers, house assessors etc The quality of some of the repairs/cover ups leaves much to be desired. To be “Fletchered by EQC”  is a new verb in the city.
  • Business leaders. The lack of advocating for the small land owners was obvious.  This was motivated by self-interest and there was an obvious “winners and losers ” game played here.  Add to this
  •  The Bullying tactics by CERA towards the building owners: we all were threatened with lookouts, restricted access, holding up of consents, confiscation of buildings and land. The manner in which it was done was a deliberate strategy. Basically done to manipulate the property market and land ownership. (I note that one major property owner was told that if he did not demolish 2 buildings he would be locked out of the city for 3 years, another was told that they would withdraw building consents if he did not co-operate.) We have been locked out for 3 years.  Makes you wonder????? Definition of malfeasance: “wrong doing, especially by a public official” 

Will they be held to account? I wait with interest.

The reality of the new Christchurch is that “the new wealthy” will be the builders and developers,  a whole new wealth class have been created. The old order has been eroded and replaced.   A pity it had to be done off the backs of the small land owners and home owners.   (The number of new “4 wheel drive Utes”  in the city sends a shiver down the spine of every homeowner.  We know that it was our insurance money that paid for it.)

That sure as heck does not give us a lot of people in charge to respect does it?

One of the other comments in this article by John McCrone also follows the same theme:

“Massey University professor Bruce Glavovic, the country’s top recovery expert as the Earthquake Commission (EQC) chair in natural hazards, was equally forceful.

“How is [Cera] going to capitalise on local culture and knowledge? How is it going to mobilise local capacity to rebuild? How is it going to enable local communities to make choices that will build safer and more sustainable communities?” Glavovic asked.

One of the untold stories of the earthquakes is the way Glavovic quickly found himself sidelined along with others who had the temerity to criticise the Cera approach.”

It was not only Professor Glavonic who was quickly sided lined by CERA.  Anyone who had any ideas, that did not comply with CERA’s view was quickly sidelined or worse still rubbished.  CERA knew better.  They refused to listen to the overseas experts who had experience in disaster recovery. They tried a new untested New Zealand “number 8 wire model”  It did not work and now they refuse to back track and admit that they got it wrong. There are many other well-known names in the same boat as Professor Glavonic…. Ian Athfield (a leading Architect) Kevin McLeod (Urban planning/design),  Kit Miyamoto (engineer) and the list goes on.

On a lighter note!  Hows progress on the building?

I have finally got the upstairs plastered.  It is in the process of being painted.  Then I can get the electrician in and the floor sanded.

I have called in additional labour, in the form of a semi retired builder friend, who has advanced progress markedly by finishing the jobs that no one else wanted to do.   Just minor issues, like toilets, showers, kitchen, windows, stairs etc…

Incidentally there appears to be “cherry picking” of work by some contractors in the city and in our case it is slowing the repair process.

We have just spent the weekend chasing a leak in the ceiling, onto my new gib….. damn….  What fun.

High Street is a Disgrace.  It looks like Beirut.  The lack of progress by CERA/CCDU et all is astounding.

There is a great job opportunity for someone to stand in the street and explain to the incredulous passersby and tourists what is happening to the area.   I can not explain it. Although I try.  We have tourists taking photos of the mess all day every day.  These are the pictures that our tourist visitors are taking home.

Unfortunately no one else seems to have the answers either. Certainly it appears that Gerry’s “God like powers have departed him.”


The answers are blindingly obvious.

  • Remove the destroyed Fire damaged Billens building.
  • Facilitate the repairs of the heritage buildings.
  • Review the party-wall legislation, which is toothless.
  • It is well worth restoring, this section of the city is now unique.
  • Force the recalcitrant land owners to repair or vacate.
  • Review the 5 year compulsory land designation. Tell the landowners what our fate is. Tell us what the infamous “Innovation Precinct” means.  And realise that this is a heritage block.

For all our sakes.  DO SOMETHING.

A Happy New Year to you all.

May 2014 be a year when we begin to make some progress.

P.S. One wonders. If monumental failures like Bob Parker (the ex-mayor) merits a Knight hood, what can they possibly do to reward Gerry Brownlee (The quake Czar)  Sainthood perhaps??


10 thoughts on “High Street A National Disgrace- part 135

    • I envy your progress!. Which is a bit of an irony really considering the way they treated you. I am starting to think you are correct. We are being punished for that protest that day.

  1. This has just been land grab from beginning and people treated badly. We had a city to be proud of now dont. As for 4 wheel drives on the road, they scare us. Cut you of. If the right people had been let help in the beginning we would be a lot further ahead. So many lives ruined. So many still in limbo. We drove through east side yesterday. Not much done there. Seems that area not important. ODo they not realise people make a city, not new buildings

    • Hi Karyn, thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about the 4 wheel drives, they act like a bulldozer!
      But yes I agree with you, the people have been let down badly. There appears to be a total lack of care and welfare for the people. I have not been back to the east side for a few months, every time I go it breaks my heart and when I go to to see our family home I feel unhappy for days. There could be a large family living in that house in complete safety. It is just all incomprehensible. I am hoping that the new council will be a wee bit more people friendly. I hope I am right!
      Take care and keep fighting!

  2. So why is Cera going to pull down many of the few buildings left for road widening in Manchester Street or a bus exchange? Leave what is left and work around and with the buildings for goodness sake – there is well and truly enough space to do so. Heritage is a pretty toothless concept in this city

    • Hi,
      I cannot answer that question. I just do not know. I also totally fail to see the need to pull down perfectly good buildings to widen a road. Surely if they need to widen the road it could be done at a later date, it seems to me that it will be years before any road widening should be considered.
      But we are not party to the master plan I am afraid. I would love to know the rational behind what has occurred here? May be it will leak out in the long run.!

  3. They can’t so any of the above, they have been busy replacing a perfectly good path in Regents Park, and then patching it after the awful mess the first guys made.

    • Hi Billygoat.
      I did not know about the Regent Park saga. Sounds typical! Is it just me or does every repair in the City seem to get done at least twice? do you think its the contractors spinning out the jobs?
      Barrington Street is a classic, that has been dug up so often now that I avoid it like the plague.
      But yes you are right they are much too busy to worry about a heritage block.
      thanks Nicky

  4. Not surprising the date for finalising the Innovation Precinct Plan has not been made yet and continually delayed. Virtually all announced plans and important dates made by CERA/CCDU and the government are usually not met. Unless I have missed something, they can’t even get their act together on a kids park. – http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/our-rebuild-your-views/8197586/Playground-site-work-might-start-this-year
    Maybe it will start early this year. Perhaps later in the year, or early next year…

    • Hi BrucetheMoose, I think the saying about not being able to organise a “piss up in a brewery” is appropriate here! One thing that does puzzle me is, that although i definitely support the idea of a Kids park, it seems to me that starting that now in that area is a bit pointless. Where are the kids going to come from? That area is as dead as my High St block. Maybe the delay is more to do with the sudden realization that the city is deserted! Oh well they know best! Yeah Right!

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