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Rahui Katene - Earthquake Recovery Bill Third Reading

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill: Third Reading

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga

Thursday 14 April 2011

Kingi Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero left us the immortal words:

Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi

Without foresight or vision the people will be lost

At this time, in the third and final reading of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill, it is important that we consider those words as we evaluate all the checks and balances that have been built into the Act.

Have we provided sufficient opportunity for the vision of the people to come forth?

Throughout all the powers created under the Bill to ensure a focused, timely and coordinated recovery effort, is there also flexibility – and importantly willingness – to allow for the natural foresight of all our people to shine through?

Have we listened? Are we prepared to listen and learn?

The Bill specifies that the powers legislated into Parliament today are mainly reserve powers – only to be used if they are necessary.

It also stipulates that checks will be in place to guard against the inappropriate use of the powers given to the Minister and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Like other parties in this House, the Maori Party can not emphasize enough just how critical it is that these powers are only exercised in accordance with the purpose of the Act and only if reasonably necessary.

And I guess if there is one over-riding consideration that might guide us in all our deliberations it would be to reflect of the simple yet bold tribal proverb that Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu suggests for the recovery of Christchurch.

Mo Tatou, a, mo ka uri a muri ake nei.

For us and our children after us.

It was in this sense, that the Maori Party has appreciated the very clear endorsement from Ngai Tahu for this legislation as an important step in pursuing the vision of Christchurch becoming a global city, within a strong, vibrant community that provides for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

It is essential that we consider this Bill as one step along the journey of long lifetime plan. This was not a usual event; an event by which the normal powers of local government authorities could be applied to reorganise and rebuild.

And I want to reflect on words shared by Te Rehia Tapata-Stafford in the Tu Mai magazine, 14 days after the quake.

“Extraordinary sights of littered streets, ruptured roads, dust covered vehicles, malfunctioning traffic lights amidst crushed buildings and homes – previously unimaginable in the New Zealand landscape.

Cordoned off areas with USAR, police and army personnel and vehicles taking up designated posts resembled a warzone.

Some of the Maori and Polynesian households would not have had food provisions beyond two days, nor credit on phones, money for petrol, any electricity or sanitation making them critically dislocated from the main welfare centres and void of fundamental needs. Many neighbourhoods resembled scenes typical of third world countries”.

Mr Speaker, how will any of us ever forget these last two months of our lives – lives interrupted by an event of such catastrophic proportion that even now it is hard to believe it happened?

The physical disruption to our lives; the ongoing frustration of normality disturbed; has been of a massive scale. As has been said previously, the earthquake of 22 February 2011 has altered the course of history for Christchurch and the nation.

But the crumbling bricks and mortar; the devastation of homes in ruin; the ongoing impact of the demolition of buildings – as severe as these effects are – all pale in comparison to the inconsolable grief of families mourning for those lost in the quake.

Police now believe 182 people died but it could take months for the last bodies to be identified.

Right across the world, families were united in grief as they waited for every bit of news, about their loved ones lost.

We remember the extraordinary outpouring of anguish that washed over us all, as we attended tangihanga, observed two minutes silence at the national memorial services, and simply listened, watched, read the very real human stories of heartache.

I recall the words Prince William shared from his kuia – the Queen of England : ‘Grief is the price we pay for love. Here today we love and we grieve”.

And so it is that we must move forward, and we must honour all those who lost their lives, by the actions we take today.

There is no question – the powers being conferred on central government through both the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the responsible Minister – are extraordinary.

But we agree with Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu – extraordinary powers are warranted by the extraordinary circumstances. “A narrower set of powers would result in an inevitable amount of case by case management of the recovery effort, creating delays, uncertainty and contributing to community frustration”.

And so the Maori Party is prepared to back this bill - as we believe it is essential to establish a clear overall direction for the recovery efforts.

We agree with the necessity of producing a mandatory Recovery Plan for the Christchurch commercial business district within nine months of enactment – and that this Recovery Plan should then be read into statutory plans.

I have been thinking of that saying “the pessimist looks at opportunities and sees difficulties; the optimist looks at difficulties and sees opportunities”.

And I have been impressed by the work of the disability sector, and the advocacy and leadership of the Minister of Disability Issues, Tariana Turia, in recommending that the Christchurch recovery effort presents a unique opportunity to ensure that Christchurch is a truly accessible city for disabled and older people.

Tariana has set out some clear expectations for the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority including

• that the Chief Executive must be accountable for accessibility;

• that accessibility should be a requirement in the Long Term Recovery Strategy and the Targeted Recovery Plans;

• and that there should be disability representation on the community forum to increase the accessibility of the city’s environment and infrastructure.

This last direction – that of representation –is perhaps the most critical factor underpinning the recovery of Christchurch.

Ngai Tahu made the point in their submission that there is a distinction between statutory participatory rights and community leadership. There must be a collaborative working relationship between the Authority and community leadership that is close, open and generates innovation.

The purpose provisions of the Bill are explicit in their direction that community participation must be planned for, in order to restore the social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing of greater Christchurch communities.

The Community Forum and the Cross Party Forum are fundamental in the way in which these relationships will be activated. We must act in ways which demonstrate the saying : he waka eke noa – a canoe which we are all in with no exception.

There can be no exceptions. The need for this Bill to work can not be understated. We must – in this Parliament – provide the appropriate measures to ensure that greater Christchurch and the councils and their communities respond to and recover from the impacts of the Christchurch earthquakes.

As Ngai Tahu put so eloquently, “the community is the recovery. The identity, strength and vitality of Christchurch is in the hearts of our people”.

We must not falter in the steps we take. Our future as a city, as a nation, will depend on the quality of the relationships and the collaboration with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, local and central government, and the wider community

The Maori Party will support this Bill, as we will support every effort of all the parties involved to plan for the rebuild process, and to make the appropriate decisions which will help to protect and preserve the wellbeing of whanau.


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