There is a letter to the Press this morning that made me laugh, more than most letters from crackpots do. As letters don’t go online, this slab of crazy is a privilege that only Christchurch people get to see. I’ll share it for you here:

I read in Saturday’s Press that Wellington intends to take more control over Christchurch. Our association, Garden City Protectors, intends to fight to protect the Garden City we have been known for and which is so admired abroad. This means that inner city having a predominance of exotics without Maori structures and native plants.

Yes, our Maori heritage must be protected. After all, Maori stealers, came to our country ahead of European settlers. However, we now have many cultures in our city and very few iwi living among us.

Our Association intends to canvas our citizens and, if the majority agrees with our views, the Government and local authorities will have a fight on their hands.

Peter Blaxhall, Merivale

There are just so many things wrong with this. Even typing it out in full made me a little bit sick. I could critique a number of things, but will limit myself to a couple.

I don’t want to patronise you (who am I kidding, of course I do) but the Maori didn’t bring the Kahikatea or the Kauri with them on the waka; they were here for millions of years before any human, Maori, English or otherwise, landed here. The Maori gave them names – beautiful names, much nicer than most European names for plants – but this is no reason to discard them just because of your inbuilt Merivale bigotry. The English tried to remake this small part of the South Pacific in their image, but it didn’t always work.

Stone buildings are fine when you don’t live anywhere near a plate boundary, but are less smart when you live in an active fault zone. The grid pattern which the early settlers thought looked nice was imposed on top of a series of natural streams that ran through the CBD: a number of the buildings that were most badly affected in the quakes were on or around where these streams used to be. We shouldn’t choose building styles, city plans and landscape gardening solutions based on what was hip in London salon’s of the 1850’s. We’ve learnt stuff since then, including a lot in the last two years.

“However, we now have many cultures in our city” – this is true, yes. So why are you trying to impose the heritage of just one of the many cultures you have just listed as living here?

In a way, I feel sorry for you guys. The earthquake has clearly taken away things that you loved, and you don’t seem to be able to cope with the changes. You want to put things back as they were, and pretend nothing happened. But things did happen. We don’t need bigoted groups like yours trying to pretend that the earthquake and the Waitangi Tribunal didn’t happen. Christchurch has moved on, even if you haven’t.

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