Thursday 10 May 2012


National gave unto Christchurch an uber-agency charged with sorting out Christchurch's rebuild: CERA. They're supposed to be the ones coordinating across the myriad agencies who, acting in uncoordinated fashion, might inadvertently be hampering recovery. Or at least that's what I thought their job was. And that's basically what the "About CERA" page says.

Last night, CloseUp interviewed the Haywoods. It would be hard not to have heard their story if you've been paying any attention to the rebuild. David Haywood was one of the first blogging about the September 2010 quake. He's often been the go-to guy for media looking for somebody intelligent to comment on post-quake life in Christchurch.

His family's older villa sat on red-zoned property in Avonside. They loved their house, but they couldn't keep it on the property. And, given the difference between their expected insurance / government payout for their property and what they'd sunk into the place, they wanted to move their old house to a new section.

But there aren't any new sections in Christchurch where people can move an older house. Because Council has been ridiculously stingy in allowing land to be zoned for residential use, there's scarcity. When sections are scarce, it's the top end of the market that gets satisfied first. What can developers do to make scarce and expensive sections even more valuable for rich folks? Add on a bunch of covenants making sure that poorer people can never move there. And so most developments have covenants on them preventing people from moving older houses onto those sections: you have to build new. And so David and Jen Haywood and their family had to go pretty far out of Christchurch to find a place where they could put their house. They blogged and tweeted the whole move; it also was covered on the news a month ago.

CloseUp interviewed the Haywoods. David talked about the 500+ hours he's had to put into sorting through the myriad regulations across insurance, EQC, Council, and so on. A whole bunch of very nice historic homes are being bulldozed because most people don't have David's tenacity.

Then CloseUp cut to Roger Sutton, head of CERA. Here's the video.

Roger Sutton, head of CERA, the agency that's supposed to be in charge of sorting out the tangled mess, claimed to have no knowledge of David Haywood's problem. He seemed surprised that problems of that sort could exist.

I really don't know how somebody who's the head of CERA could be unaware of problems of this sort.

"The first I heard of this and the difficulties was today."

And now that it's pretty much too late, he's going to get a couple of initiatives going. The regulatory mess that the Haywoods faced is what I'd thought CERA were supposed to be fixing when they were established.

What a colossal failure. Every time I think I've sufficiently adjusted my expectations downwards, they manage to find a new way to surprise me.

Here's Jen Hay's twitter feed. You'll learn more about what's going on in Christchurch by reading her than by talking to Roger Sutton. And read David Haywood too.


  1. of topic, but this C/B anaylsis may interest u

    1. Nice that they catch that the net fiscal effect is ambiguous.

  2. I do not want to be like David Haywood.I have given up on EQC and CCC and everybody. You can sit on the phone forever or clean up your own silt and damage. That is what I did, I did it by myself.
    For 20 months.
    EQC will not pay me, and now I am just in the process of renting my home out,for what I can get, so I can leave maybe forever.
    It was not as I thought, there is no rental crisis at all, there is a shortage of people who will/can pay rent.
    My client potential are from Auckland and NZ who dig drains and drive big machines.
    Welcome to Christchurch dear tenants Isabella and Dan welcome to Christchurch.
    Just burn my wood in the fire , keep warm, and make money, do not ring me I do not want to come back.

  3. We have been transformed in to a schizophrenic town; on the one side we are trying to sell a sense of normality, in an attempt to retain—and even attract—people. On the other, we have a deeply broken recovery process. Even living and working in the Western part of the city, which is supposed to be an oasis of normality, one can feel the strain: the university has been deeply affected and needs to increase student intake while retaining its best staff, who are the people with most opportunities to start afresh somewhere else.

  4. Bob parker lies there are no homes he got voted in on the fear of the people he needs to remember it the people that made this city not the other way round council have fogotten whot counts wail they get there pay rises we carrie on liveing in our car on tbe beachs landlord have dubble rent it we live the best way we can 1 wonders is it worth it the gread of some has become inhuman now they show there true selfs