Archives for category: links

This is a really good post on Christchurch’s future cycling infrastructure. I don’t have a huge amount to add to it, but would suggest you read it, if you prefer your cycling analysis to be backed up by research rather than based on wild speculation and grudges against bikes:

Even if the costs have blown out to ~$160 million, a quick calculation shows that the Benefit/Cost Ratio of the total cycleway programme in Christchurch is conservatively at 7:1 – a pretty good business case in most people’s eyes … Just for comparison, the much-vaunted Southern Motorway extension ended up costing $140 million for a projected Benefit/Cost Ratio of about 2.4:1

I’m going to be writing an occasional blog over at the Standard for the next few months. It will be similar to what I write here, but I think I’ll try and aim it more for a national, rather than local, audience. So keep an eye out – and I’ll probably post some links here too.

Also, did I mention we’re doing this next week?

WWDITS-smallCome along! You get to see a great movie AND support a good cause (me).

So the World Cup has started! I jumped out of bed for the first time in a while, put on my All Whites shirt (never stop believing) and settled in for what was a pretty good game. Sure, dodgy decisions, bad keeping, but there was an comedy own goal from Brazil’s pantomime villain, and that fancy spray paint. Aside from when New Zealand flukes an appearance, I support France. I don’t really know why. They’re either amazing, or amazingly terrible. Their implosion in 2010 was almost as good as Zidane’s fantastic headbutt in 2006.

One of the leaders of the 2010 mutiny, wannabe Bond villain Franck Ribery, has been ruled out with injury, which is a massive plus. The Ribery-less Les Bleus demolished Jamaica 8-0 earlier in the week, and looked much better without him. I don’t think they will win it, but maybe leave after a comical on-field dustup between team mates in the quarter final.

Speaking of the French … the Press’s Cecile Meier has a column today which suggests some French fixes for our broken rental housing market:

Now let’s look at Billye Jean Rangihuna’s French double, Jeanne-Billois Roquefort. Her rent could only be increased once a year and the raise would be capped to a government-issued index (usually under 3 per cent) based on inflation.

At the end of her three-year rental contract, Roquefort’s landlord could hike the rent more, but only if it was significantly undervalued compared to market rates. To do so, they would have to give six months’ notice. Even then Roquefort could refuse the increase, in which case the landlord would have to go to a conciliation commission.

The French system arguably puts lots of pressure on landlords. But tenants are usually the more vulnerable party in the tenancy relationship and therefore need protection.

There is plenty of evidence that tenants in Christchurch are being exploited by the invisible hand of the market, and it has to stop. And speaking of French socialism:

A stunning finding of the report is that no one actually knows who holds the French debt. To finance its debt, the French state, like any other state, issues bonds, which are bought by a set of authorised banks. These banks then sell the bonds on the global financial markets. Who owns these titles is one of the world’s best kept secrets. The state pays interests to the holders, so technically it could know who owns them. Yet a legally organised ignorance forbids the disclosure of the identity of the bond holders.

Hence, the audit on the debt concludes, some 60% of the French public debt is illegitimate.

The author tracks a story of French debt that looks very similar to what has happened in New Zealand over the last generation. He posits an internationalism in which the working classes free themselves from the financialism that has obsessed Western governments for the last 30 years:

The nascent global movement for debt audits may well contain the seeds of a new internationalism – an internationalism for today – in the working classes throughout the world. This is, among other things, a consequence of financialisation. Thus debt audits might provide a fertile ground for renewed forms of international mobilisations and solidarity.

There have been some very good, and very interesting, pieces about the rebuild in the last week or so, which I’ve collected up here. Peter Robb’s Total Rebuild, from the Sydney Morning Herald, gives a necessarily detached look at the rebuild from an Australian perspective. His insights into what happens behind closed doors are illuminating:

Don Miskell, a retired Christchurch landscape designer who is now CERA’s head of design, seemed nonplussed by my questions. He rattled off a summary of replies received in the city council’s “Share An Idea” survey. They showed that people wanted a compact, low-rise and green city – trees and grass, rather than renewable energy – with good public transport, bike paths, arts and sports facilities. He said he’d bought a bike himself a week earlier, and had really enjoyed riding home in the rain the night before.

Slightly closer to home, but again with a little distance, Charlotte Grimshaw writes about visiting the city from Auckland:

Broken-hearted Christchurch: you could certainly say it’s got more interesting. The residential red zone was poignantly beautiful in late summer sun, the wrecked houses by the pretty river weed-choked and overgrown. Past the keeled-over pillars of the Holiday Inn, you could look at whole streets sinking and decaying, returning to the earth. There was something to see here all right: after the natural disaster, a disaster of neglect.

You could only wander through it and marvel. How can those in charge justify this mess? What on earth does the Government think it’s doing?

The Press editorial from Saturday’s paper also weighs in on the growing feeling that there is a lack of vision in the rebuild at the moment:

The city must now combine ambitions and the collective aims expressed through Share an Idea and come up with a simple bold, defining vision. A new small-city vision that makes the most of what we have in our stunning South Island location.

Also from the Saturday paper, Philip Matthews’ has written an excellent summary of where the battle over the Cathedral is at. It ends with a tantalising political prospect, which could see the symbol of the rebuild forced back into the national political discussion where it belongs:

The political equation is quite simple, Anderton says. Whether it is National or Labour that needs Peters in September, a stable government could be purchased for $15m. Anderton’s line indicates just how small the sum is in the greater scheme of things.

“If it can be saved, why wouldn’t you?” he says. “The amount of money is relatively modest.”

Finally, a post that I wrote last Friday when everyone had clocked out for the week.

if New Zealand’s economy is a “rock star”, it is one that has drunk the contents of the minibar, soiled the bed, and thrown the TV through the ranch slider and into the pool. Now the hotel is getting new sheets and some double-glazed windows on insurance, but that isn’t the structural change that it needs.


Giovanni Tiso is a friend, a scholar, and a great writer. If you haven’t met his words before, now is a pretty good time to start. If you like what you read, don’t be afraid to throw him some coin. You won’t regret it.

So here’s my pitch. I used to feel bad asking for money, but then I look at the products for sale out there, in the mainstream. $1,200 for Jonathan Milne’s story. Metro charging you $10.50 to watch Noelle McCarthy review books that she may or may not have read. (I should start the bidding at $11, as I can promise you I read everything.) Then there is Bob Jones, who can afford to write for the New Zealand Herald for free, and the paper is only too happy to oblige him. Let me have some of the cash he’s leaving on the table, and as a bonus gift to you I’ll keep my racist, sexist views to myself.

It’s a couple of days away from the quake anniversary, and the Press has been publishing a number of worthwhile pieces about aspects of the recovery. I should mention them in more detail, but this is more of a quick heads-up.

Former National Cabinet Minister Philip Burdon wrote a pretty scathing opinion piece on the state of the rebuild, and the emerging “doughnut city”:

The role of central government has by virtue of legislative dictate totally subordinated the role of local government. Having said that, the Cera (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) structure has been agreed by all as conceptually appropriate and correct and the expectations of decisive leadership were high. Three years later it is universally seen as having failed to deliver and it is necessary to reflect on why.

Its primary mandate was to streamline bureaucracy and accelerate decision-making. Three years later it has become the antithesis of exactly that. Its most conspicuous failure has been its well-intended ambition to kick-start and accelerate the revival of the CBD.

Lianne Dalziel gave a “State of the City” address, and the response to it from Brownlee and Parker wasn’t popular:

Dalziel said the Parker-led council had left ”a tragic legacy” and a potentially serious financial predicament after inking the cost-sharing agreement. That council had “committed to projects that we cannot afford. They created expectations of levels of service that we cannot deliver. We have inherited this situation but we are taking responsibility.” Parker denied Dalziel’s claims and said her council “turned their backs on knowledge” by not having a full debrief with former chief executive Tony Marryatt, who was still employed by the council until November 30 last year.

Finally, Vicki Anderson has written a pretty comprehensive survey of what’s happened in the arts since the quakes.

Porcupine Farm's take on the Quake Outcast decision

I always forget to check regularly on what’s going on at Porcupine Farm, but when I do it’s amazing and I wish I did more often. Anyway, if you haven’t seen the site, go over and have a look. It’s fantastic.

A feature over at Canta magazine about moving the CBD. Takes it a bit further than I did, which is cool.

A pdf document with Warren and Mahoney’s 10 ideas for CHCH. Seems that they are pretty comfortable communicating in powerpoint fashion these days.

Here is another link to a blog from central city building owner. Bad story, but well written!

Rob from the Honeypot has been a really active business owner since the September 4th quake. His cafe was red-stickered after the Boxing Day quake, and now is set to be knocked down. Here is a blog from him that says a lot of what people in the CBD are feeling.