Thursday 17 March 2011

If the quake won't do it, Council will

A roundup of stories from this morning's Christchurch Press.

  • A restaurant owner, prohibited from recovering items from his restaurant, for his own good, finds out the soldiers guarding the cordon had been inside to grab a few chairs to sit on. The restaurant was then demolished without his being notified after assurances it wouldn't be.
  • A sound building was demolished because it was the same colour as the neighbouring building. Again the owner wasn't notified.
    He said his demolished building, which housed the Vivace Espresso Bar and Fortuna Books, was destroyed because it was the same colour as its badly damaged neighbouring building. "They were different buildings but, unfortunately, I painted them the same colour, and it was a cream day that day. Every building that was cream in Hereford St was demolished."
    He said it was criminal to allow politicians and the Prime Minister to walk through the cordon area but deny access to property owners. "There are buildings that desperately need propping and there is an overzealousness to keep us out of there to supposedly protect the public, but there is no public in there ... so what exactly are they protecting?"

    Gough, who owns Oxford Tce buildings, said many were damaged and needed to be secured. He fears they will be unsalvageable by the time he gains access.

    "My rights have been taken away from me. They are saying we can't go in there, but I am sorry, I say that is b........"

    Gough believed Christchurch was living under a dictatorship.
  • Responsible owners left notes on the windows of their locked buildings saying the building was clear of any people. Search teams then smashed doors open without contacting owners.
  • The "Good Living" section, not online, includes a dispatch from Vera Larsen on living in the "Red Zone" - the cordoned area downtown:
    Overnight, fences had been erected around the red zone, one of which blocked my access to an aretsian well that had become my primary source of water since the quake. Returning from the well that morning, I was stopped by a policeman who informed me I now needed a red pass if I was to be allowed back to my home and I would have to go to the Arts Centre to get that pass... a day-long trip past countless destroyed buildings, army checkpoints and police cordons....

    I decided it was all just too hard and have so far relied on the common sense of the army and police personnel to determine that I am a local resident just trying to survive.... But each time I leave home to get water, have a shower and wash my clothes at friends' houses, or do some grocery shopping, I can't guarantee I'll be allowed back home. And without fail, every time I'm on the streets near my house I am stopped at least once, the record so far being three times in one block, and have to provide ID, explain what I am up to, where I am going and where I have been.

    Ending up in the red zone has also meant friends living in the green zone cannot visit. My power was restored relatively quickly. A friend in the green zone was one of the last to get power. Pre-Sunday, March 6, she was using my fridge to store her food and to boil water. Post March 6, we had to meet at the checkpoint. She would hand me goods from the outside world while I handed her boiled water and perishable items, all under the amused eyes of the army and police.
This isn't the New Zealand to which I immigrated. The advertised New Zealand was a place where folks could muck in, sort out their own problems, and assume their own risks. Folks could do ridiculous things in kayaks and on mountains, but would sometimes be called on to front the bill for their rescue if they wound up doing something too stupid. It's a country where when a woman died of hypothermia going through Cave Stream in the middle of winter with insufficient polypro, the only response was to put up a slightly bigger sign warning people to wear warm clothes in winter: "We can't fence off all the mountains" was the very sensible reply.

Gerry Brownlee and Bob Parker are doing their best to wreck what I'd always found best about New Zealand - that folks were free to pursue their vision of the good life* and to bear their own risks so long as they weren't burdening anybody else. Yes, business owners going into downtown may be assuming some risks and might wind up needing rescuing if there's a bad aftershock. But even where they've hired professionals to come in and ensure everything's done safely, they're still prohibited. This is nonsense and has to end.

*So long as that didn't include taking drugs or doing anything that requires a speedy resource consent.


  1. So you've been sold a bill of goods eh? Welcome to the club.

  2. Christchurchs own version of the Berlin Wall

  3. Lets review the moral hazard created if there were to be another earthquake:
    1) After rendering assistance always remain in the CBD to gather whatever possessions you can before a cordon is erected.
    2) If your car is drivable always make sure you drive your car out of the area, least you lose access to it inside a security perimeter.
    3) Always have a wedding dress or other sympathy items ready for collection inside your premises. Makes it easier to get back in.
    4) If required disguise oneself as a journalist.

  4. @Anon #1: My apologies if I was the salesman; I've been a pretty big cheerleader for NZ. Will have to asterisk every one of those posts with an "Unless there's an earthquake, in which case arbitrary martial law applies."

    @V: Exactly.

  5. Eric

    NOT PC has the details of a protest TODAY that everyone should support.
    "Photographer Kurt Langer...will be marching to the Art Gallery and Civil Defence Headquarters today and he wants your support. Get along there and help him help other Christchurch business owners. Says Kurt:

    "Come and join us at 4:30pm outside the Bridge of Remembrance. They can park anywhere around the Bridge of Remembrance. (But they have to drive along Montreal street from at least Tuam street coming from the hospital to get there.)From there we plan to walk to the art gallery at 5pm, the headquarters of the new regime."


  6. Ah. Impossible to get there from this side of town in any reasonable time.

  7. I hate to make this point, but Council is not actually in charge right now. The state of emergency gives the powers to Civil Defense.

    So, you're right to be angry, but your anger should be directed at the federal government, Civil Defense and Brownlee.

  8. @Anon: I'd be totally with you if we had a Mayor who had had at least a single press conference in which he called out Civil Defence for wrecking his city's businessmen.