Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Looking to the Future in Christchurch

Looking to the Future in Christchurch

Natural disasters remind us of the fragility of life. They strike indiscriminately in time and place and for the most part we are powerless to counter the effects of their might. The Christchurch earthquake which struck at 12.51pm on Tuesday 22 February has touched the lives of every kiwi in some way.


My Christchurch friend Jo Giles was in the CTV building during last week’s earthquake and, like many of her colleagues, is assumed to have died. Jo had been a jockey, a TV presenter, an ACT candidate, a real estate agent and had a passion for motor sport racing amongst many other things. About my age, she had an eventful life but it was cut short, just as it was for hundreds of others caught in the might of the quake.

Frustrated at observing the aftermath from a distance I went to Christchurch on Monday and volunteered with the “Farmy Army” – a Federated Farmers and Young Farmers joint initiative. I joined ‘work group 56’ to help with the clean-up. Most of us in the group had travelled from elsewhere in New Zealand. We were sent to Breezes Rd in Brighton (eastern suburbs), to shovel silt.

We moved silt, wet and dry from garages unearthing their buried contents as we went. We dug out backyards with feet of silt ready for diggers to come in and take the bulk away. We knocked on doors to see if residents needed help. I handed out home baking given to me by an Army officer on the plane from Wellington. We dug ditches and cleared a road so traffic could get through. I was lucky. I got to go home and have a shower that night. The people we were helping are still waiting for power, water and portaloos.

Yesterday the decision was made to move the focus from rescue to recovery. It signalled that the focus must now be on the future. The Christchurch of the future is going to look like a very different city. Historic buildings, once landmarks, have been destroyed and will be replaced with modern, purpose built structures. Suburbs, particularly those in the east of the city will have to be completely rebuilt. The make-up of the population may well be different too. Many have left, some will not return.


In disaster relief terms we have thousands of internally displaced people. At last count over four thousand Christchurch students were enrolled at schools around the country. Families have moved to holiday homes or to stay with family and friends elsewhere. Many of those that remain in Christchurch need help with the basics – food, water, power. The clean-up will take months, the rebuild, years.


Government has announced some help packages already. Six week’s pay for those who have lost jobs and assistance to employers who need some breathing space is a good start. But hard decisions about funding and how best to assist in the long term have yet to be made. Discussions have already started around changes to Working for Families entitlements to help fund the rebuild. Helping Christchurch to pick up the pieces will mean reprioritisation of current projects.

We are not the first to have to rebuild a city. There are plenty examples of how to do this well and even more of what not to do. The work will be painstaking, slower than we would like and it requires careful planning. The Independent Newspaper published an excellent article in 2010 about the rebuild of Port-au-Prince following the Haiti earthquake. (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/architecture/new-and-improved-rebuilding-a-disaster-zone-1948094.html). It asked what could be learned from the architectural reinvention of other ruined cities. There are lessons here too for Christchurch.

Christchurch is our second largest city and an important part of our economy. Once the emergency aid is delivered the work to rebuild begins in earnest. The lessons from other ruined cities are clear and shouldn’t be ignored. The process of making buildings and communities safer and stronger is perhaps the easy part of the equation. Experts can be engaged to deal with both.

Those who have spent time working in earthquake reconstruction have concluded that while any city can inevitably be rebuilt over time, the best results are achieved when governments act quickly and decisively.

The harder thing to get right is the engagement between government, business and the people. All have a vested interest but a city ultimately belongs to those who live there. It is to be hoped that government – both central and local – involve both the business community and the residents when decisions are made, especially about the look and feel of the new Christchurch.
If there is one thing to keep in mind it is this:

It wasn’t the earthquake that cost lives, it was the buildings. But ultimately it will be the people who will be the key to making sure these societies breathe again. (Robin Cross, Article 25, British architecture and construction aid charity).

Lest We Forget
The last US World War I veteran died in his home town of Charles Town on 27 February aged 110. Frank Buckles enlisted at 16 after many attempts at fooling recruiters about his age. He never saw combat in WWI but spent his war in England and France. As a civilian he was captured by the Japanese in WWII and spent three years in a prison camp in the Philippines. Frank spent his later years campaigning for a national memorial in Washington for the Great War veterans, a task not yet achieved but his battle will be continued by others. Frank Buckles was the last of his kind but the freedoms the western world enjoys today are their legacy to us.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Greens: Russel Norman To Stand Down As Co-Leader

Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman has announced today that he will stand down as leader at the party’s Annual General Meeting in May. Dr Norman will remain as Co-leader and retain his finance and climate change portfolios until the AGM.

“After nearly a decade as Co-leader, now is a good time to find a new challenge for myself, and to spend more time with my family” said Dr Norman.

“This is my ninth year as Co-leader and I think it’s time for a change. Now is a good time for new leadership for the Party. My replacement will start from a strengthened base and will have a full parliamentary term to establish himself in the role and take the Greens into government in 2017." More>>

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Eleanor Catton Rumpus

If anyone was in doubt about the accuracy of the comments made in India by Eleanor Catton, the reaction from some quarters here at home has gone a long way to proving her point… More>>

ALSO:

More Rent Assistance, Less State-Owned Housing: John Key Speech - Next Steps In Social Housing

"We are going to ensure that more people get into social housing over the next three years, whether that is run by Housing New Zealand or a community provider. The social housing budget provides for around 62,000 income-related rent subsidies a year. We are committed to increasing that to around 65,000 subsidies by 2017/18, which will cost an extra $40 million a year." More>>

ALSO:

The Future Of Work: Andrew Little - State Of The Nation 2015

In 2005 when I led the EPMU we worked together with Air New Zealand to find a way to keep engineering jobs that were heading overseas. A lot of these workers were people I’d known for years and they were facing not just losing their jobs but not being able to find the kind of work they do without going overseas. A lot of people were facing personal and financial upheaval.... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Sabin Case, The Pressures On Greece And (Songs About) Coyotes

Mike Sabin is a National MP, and the current chairman of Parliament’s law and order committee. Yet reportedly, he is being investigated by the Police over an assault complaint... However, the PM will not comment on any aspect of the story. More>>

ALSO:

Houses, ISIS, King (& Catton): PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference

The Prime Minister met with reporters to discuss: • Social housing, the Auckland housing market • The prospect of joining international forces to combat ISIS • David Bain’s compensation • The lowering of the flag for the King of Saudi Arabia's death ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Tomorrow’s Speeches By John Key And Andrew Little

The Key government has already kicked off the political year on a stridently ideological note, with Environment Minister Nick Smith choosing to lay all manner of sins at the door of the RMA. Tomorrow, the government will wheeling out its best salesman – Prime Minister John Key – to sell its plans for state housing… . More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news