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Mayor Lianne Dalziel's speech - 4 September 2014

Mayor Lianne Dalziel's speech - 4 September 2014

Speech given by Mayor Lianne Dalziel to open the Earthquake Recovery Committee of the Whole (Ercow) meeting on the fourth anniversary of 4 September 2010 earthquake.

4 September 2014

When my husband woke me this morning just after 4.30 this morning I turned over to go back to sleep.

But then I realised the significance of being awake at that time.

I remember vividly the shock of suddenly being awake.

And being out of bed. Robbie said I yelled earthquake – I don’t remember that.

I know I wanted to get out of the house.

All of the civil defence lessons were gone in an instant.

I remember being tossed from side to side as we tried to run down the stairs.

I remember reaching the front door when the house stopped shaking.

Like so many others I had no idea what lay ahead.

It was the beginning of a sequence of events that changed my life and the lives of so many others forever.

I didn’t give up going back to sleep this morning but my mind kept drifting through the past 4 years and what I was going to say this morning.

There is a lot of symbolism about today’s meeting – obviously foremost is the location. We have intentionally come as a council to the east.

Given the impact the earthquakes have had on communities surrounding greater New Brighton from the north to the south, it seemed fitting to hold this final “Earthquake Recovery Committee of the Whole” here.

The agenda is symbolic as well.

· It starts with a deputation from a group, Eastern Vision, which didn’t exist four years ago. Eastern Vision is an example of the emergent groups that have taken a leadership role in our city. It has formed essentially as a catalyst for a conversation about the future of the east;

· The first of the three formal items is the location of the Eastern Recreation and Sports Centre, which is recommended to us by an advisory group and the Burwood Pegasus Community Board, The ERSC has attracted a major philanthropic donation which has signalled a new way funding facilities, which doesn’t just commit ratepayers’ dollars;

· The last is a paper that contains the rationale for and make up of a new committee structure I am proposing we adopt – this is designed to commit our governance structure to the resilient city model, which makes more sense as we seek to devolve decision-making to community boards and their communities, and frees up councillor time to work on the Long Term Plan and engage more directly with the communities they represent;

· The main reason we are here today is the adoption of a public engagement plan which will mark the beginning of a conversation with the community about the council’s priorities and funding options for the next ten years. I know this is challenging for many councillors. None of us expected to see such a significant set of financial challenges when we opened the books. I am aware that the People’s Choice (Labour) councillors are going to put out a statement clarifying their position. I know there is considerable sympathy around the table for that position. We have agreed to put all the options on the table and work together with our communities to find the right solutions.

I felt really proud when you all agreed to allow me to speak for the Council as a whole when we released the Cameron Partners report and signal that all the options would be considered. I think what has set us apart as a Council is how we are managing these challenging issues. So let me say to all my colleagues - thank you. I am confident that we will make the right choices. And this initial engagement with our city will open the door to a much better understanding of the choices we have and a real sense of ownership of the decisions we ultimately make.

We are also taking the opportunity to give the green light to more than $40 million (including heritage facilities) worth of work that will see swimming pools and libraries and other facilities progressively restored to communities over coming months.

We have signed off on these facilities so Council staff can get on with the job – draw up the plans, call for expressions of interest and look to the range of funding models that exist.

The important message today is something I learned from an informal meeting with local advisory groups last weekend.

Because the council has established a Betterment Fund, people think we have the money allocated. It is all borrowing.

My mistake around the Capital Endowment Fund, which is a Fund set aside from the proceeds of business sold by Orion a number of years ago, is that we have borrowed from it ourselves – so my clever plan of spending some of the money set aside for the rainy day only committed us to more borrowing.

But what we are announcing today is that we can’t wait for insurances to be settled or horizontal infrastructure expenditure to be resolved.

Appropriately, all our council business today is focused on the future; on getting back on our feet as a city and as communities – and for the Council, the focus is on opening ourselves to new ways of doing things.

Significantly, these changes are also beginning to take shape at a governance level with the Prime Minister’s announcement of changes to CERA’s structure, and the beginning of a deliberate move towards transition which will eventually lead to the full restoration of democracy in this city.

I opened a conference for 400 people this morning – ironically for Project managers – and acknowledged how important that the message was that we were open for business.

I thought I would conclude my opening comments by repeating something I said to them:

I will never forget being shaken awake at 4.35am not knowing what would lie ahead.

From liquefaction to lateral spread and from EQC to PMOs – I was introduced to words and acronyms I knew nothing about before.

I tell people I am not the same person I was back there. I have been inspired by the ability of communities to come together in a time of crisis. I have been humbled by the generosity of people – be they neighbours or multi-millionaire philanthropists living half a world away. And I have been encouraged by people who have willingly shared their knowledge and expertise with Christchurch as we recover and rebuild.

Encouraged, humbled and inspired – three words that describe how I feel about being here today.


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