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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 101

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 101

The Labour Party's Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

CLAYTON COSGROVE: I went along to the Kaiapoi Volunteer Fire Brigade's annual awards ceremony over the weekend. I was privileged to speak and present a few awards to these champions in our community. It was a great opportunity to reflect again on the sheer impact of the September and February quakes. The stories about how much these firefighters did for our community when their own families and homes were in chaos were heartening. When the February quake hit the volunteer fire brigade was mobilised immediately, now practised in earthquake response. Their professionalism and reliability was a huge comfort to the community. It is often easy to forget this is in fact a volunteer organisation and it was wonderful for the community to have a chance to stand up and say thanks, we owe you a huge debt. The ceremony let us honour our firefighters commitment, in horrific circumstances, with various awards which recognised skill, extra training and long-time service. One firefighter, having wanted to join the volunteer brigade since school, was honoured for 15 years' service. At a time when Kaiapoi has had its heart torn out in terms of the announcements around the red zone, and when the community are doing it so tough, it is reassuring to look to these men and women and all our emergency services, and celebrate their heroism.

RUTH DYSON: We heard particularly welcome news over the weekend, with the decision that Akaroa will host some of the cruise ship visits which are temporarily unable to stop in Lyttelton. This is a great relief to Canterbury because we certainly cannot risk our $30m cruise ship industry leaving our region. Lyttelton will be able to host some of the smaller ships and, given the amazing recovery work that the Port is undertaking, I am sure we will see the large ships return in the not too distant future. If anyone had suggested just six months ago that Lyttelton would host Macbeth during the Christchurch Arts Festival, not many people would have thought it possible. But thanks to the drive of Pete and Lois--- the recently married owners of the former Volcano Cafe and Lava Bar--- and Joe Bennett, Lyttelton has been hosting sell-out open air performances on the Volcano site. Lots of people have missed out on the show because it sold out so quickly, so I hope whispers of extra performances are true! Well done to all involved. The show has lifted Lyttelton's spirits.

LIANNE DALZIEL: In my update last week I called on people to show understanding for each other's reactions to the government's decisions about some of our land and the offer they have made to the red zoned home-owners. The bottom line is that it is a better deal for some than others and emotions are running high. As I have said before, for many people, the government offer is a very good offer. If you had a rating valuation that reflected the true market value in 2007, you should walk away with (on average) 5% more than you could have sold your house on September 3, 2010. There will be people in this category who will want to sell their whole property to the government and assign their insurance claim for the building and their EQC claim for the land to the government and move on with their lives. There will also be people whose land value is sufficient to buy a comparable section and the insurer has agreed to rebuild their house. In both cases this is a good deal. But for many others theirs will be a challenging decision. They are people who paid the market value for their property, which was more than the 2007 rating valuation, and people whose properties or land values are insufficient to buy an equivalent home or section in the current market. Now that the offers are on the table, there is another group of people, who will be shattered to find that the money they spent doing up their home in the past 3 years is money down the drain - this may amount to thousands of dollars. I have spent the weekend listening to a range of speakers who have been brought to New Zealand to coincide with the consultation on the draft CBD Plan that the Christchurch City Council has released for submissions. The turnout was disappointing but there are two more days to go. For more information on the program see the document attached.

BRENDON BURNS: I have just returned from the south eastern coast of Upolo, Samoa, where the tsunami caused so much devastation in September 2009. Two years on, the recovery is there to see. Many fales in low-lying villages like Salepaga and Lalomanu have been abandoned, but the people have been relocated to the hills above the coast through a mix of self-help, Samoan Government assistance and that of groups like Habitat for Humanity. The beachfront fales are also back in place for tourists. Some tourism operators have taken the opportunity to considerably upgrade fales and swankier resorts. Tourism is a key part of Samoa's economy and while visitor numbers have not yet peaked, they are growing again. These timelines for recovery are an encouraging message for Canterbury as we approach the first anniversary of September 4. At lunch last Friday, New Zealand's High Commissioner reminded me that Samoa had made two donations to Christchurch totalling more than $100,000. There were numerous other donations from villages and churches. When you consider the economic imbalance between our two nations, it was humbling to be reminded how well we have been supported, just as was Samoa by Canterbury a year earlier.

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

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