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Property developers seem to be the most important people in the eyes of the government. The blueprint put them front and centre, limiting land supply to ensure that those within the frame didn’t lose value on their portfolios. The blueprint also strongly favours big developments, which has resulted in big name, big money developers taking on whole city blocks at a time. Some of these developers are relentlessly positive, such as Shaun Stockman:

His advice to people considering living in the central city is simple – “do it”.

“Enjoy the buzz of living centrally. It’s a perfect place to be for people who want an easy care lifestyle and there is something for everyone. The new city is a playground – just get stuck in!”

Something for everyone! The new city is a playground! Just get stuck in! The other developer who can usually be called upon for boosterism has a slightly different message:

High-profile property developer Antony Gough hopes offering pre-earthquake rents will lure tenants to his stalled central Christchurch precinct.

Gough, whose prime hospitality space, The Strip, was demolished after the quakes, said he would charge about $700 a square metre for hospitality space at The Terrace – “a third of what shopping malls are charging”. Hospitality NZ said Gough’s offer was generous but some developers thought it would still be too expensive for tenants.

A “few” tenants had already signed up but he would not say how many.

Demand has clearly not matched the optimistic expectations of those developing in the Cashel Mall area – this isn’t the first time that Gough’s development has stalled. While you have to admire him for pushing on regardless, the underlying economics of the situation should have alarm bells ringing at CERA HQ. As should this story from the Press:

Cristo Ltd has abandoned plans to develop the site of BNZ House in Cathedral Square, which it says is the subject of a dispute with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), and is looking for a buyer.

The building has become an eyesore, sitting half-demolished on the southern edge of the square for more than two years while developers and businesses head west to the banks of the Avon River.

Cristo director Stephen Bell said tenants were not interested in the site, stalling development plans for a multi-storey office building. “The high-end tenants you need to make a building like that, a fairly expensive building, pay, seem to have settled elsewhere and are not really interested in coming right back into the CBD. The possibility of building offices in the centre of the city now seems quite remote.”

Most of the development happening in the CBD is being led by families with a strong connection to Christchurch. The lack of outside investment in the city has always been a problem – but now that these developer families are pulling their money out, where does that leave the wasteland of a CBD? This situation – a CBD rebuild led by a handful of prominent developers – is exactly what the government wanted when they released the blueprint. People have been arguing since 2012 that this is what would happen if they went down this track. They’ve rejected such claims. This is their mess.

Rentals for more than $400s a square metre, which Bell said were needed to make a high-rise development on the BNZ site viable, were unsustainable, [Richard] Peebles said, especially when tenants wanted to be on the west bank of the Avon River and could do so for much less.

Knight Frank director of valuation Will Blake said existing developments had largely catered for office space demand, meaning the old CBD – Cathedral Square and surrounds – “could be in for quite a long period of not much activity”.

“It certainly does look like the central city has shifted to the west and become a bit more elongated rather than just clustered around the square.”

That the city has “shifted to the west” and that people want to be on the west bank of the Avon is telling – this means the developments on Cambridge Terrace and Victoria St. These developments have flourished precisely because they are outside of the area controlled by the blueprint. There is a diminishing business case, to put it in developer-speak, for returning to the CBD. I doubt this is what CERA wanted when they released the blueprint.

There has been quite a bit of talk about immigration in the last couple of days. Much of it descends pretty quickly into a very bad place. Russell Brown did a very good job of managing to talk about these issues respectfully and responsibly – which you can read here. Migration is going to be a hot issue in Christchurch this election. There is no doubt that we need skilled people for the rebuild, and that many of them will have to come from overseas. Tom Hooper, from the Canterbury Development Corporation, was quoted speaking about this in the Press:

There had been a drop in Christchurch’s growth or GDP from about 9 per cent at a peak at the end of 2012-early 2013 to under 7 per cent now, Hooper said. Part of this was because of labour constraints, particularly in the skilled sectors, he said. This would need to be answered by migration, he said … “So we actually have to have increased levels of migration to increase the size of the work force,” he said. “In an ideal world, that will be in two areas. It will be to help with the rebuild and make sure the rebuild is not a constraint, and it will be to help with our key underlying sectors and growing those sectors that have demand for workers as well.”

The problem is similar to that with National’s “beneficiaries to Christchurch” policy: where are these people going to be housed? Increasing skilled migration to fix a labour shortage will be key to ensuring that the recovery finally starts to ramp up, however we can’t forget the need to house the people who are already here, and have been doing it hard for the last 3 and a half years. Adding a large number of skilled migrants to the mix is going to place additional stress on a property market that isn’t coping with the existing demand.

So while there is a clear need to attract skilled people, we still have a responsibility as a society to make sure that we are looking after those people who are still here and have been through so much already. We also have a responsibility to house the migrants who have already come to work in the city – and that doesn’t mean putting them in a Portacom, a caravan or a shed. Labour’s response won’t leave people to the whims of the market; our most vulnerable people need a helping hand, not the invisible hand.

Poor Matthew Doocey. While David Cunliffe, David Parker, and a large number of Labour MPs and local councillors joined Poto Williams to celebrate her “stonking” win in Christchurch East, Doocey cut a rather solitary figure at his election night do, his party leader no-where to be seen. John Key can try and distance himself from this failure, but he did spend quite a lot of time down here in the East, campaigning with the Dooce. It felt appropriate to celebrate their short-lived but passionate bromance.

The first flowerings of a relationship:


Just hanging with the boys:


More boys (and Nicky Wagner):


Looking at the plans for the expansion of our dream home:


On our first trip abroad together, Matthew got a little sunburnt:


Matthew plays look-out for our first (unsuccessful) attempt to steal a child:


Our second attempt worked better:


Look all good venture capitalists, we successfully expanded our baby-acquiring business with the help of Judith Collins. Franchise opportunities in an area near you!


Always the party-pooper, Bill crashed one of our dates, and stopped us from ordering lunch. We were so hungry! Matthew gets cranky when he hasn’t had his lunch.

BZpNgTXCIAAug2l.jpg-largeI started to get worried that Matthew was seeing other men. Men that looked like him. I think he has a type.


As with the previous post, this is a rough map of where the school closures are on a map of social deprivation in Christchurch. I say rough as the map doesn’t come with roads, so I’ve had to correlate the two. Deprivation data is from 2006, from the Christchurch City Council’s website. Blue is least deprived, yellow is most deprived. It’s pretty easy to see that most of the closures and mergers (which are closures by another name) are in the yellow parts of the city. Even in the closure in the Ilam electorate, they’ve managed to target the one school in the most deprived part of Burnside!

I’ve added an asterix to denote the Aranui cluster, a decision on which was put off today. But remember, they want to merge 5 schools into one, in the poorest part of town.

The N!’s represent new schools, but I can’t put them any where meaningful as we don’t know where they will go at this point.

CLOSURES VS SocioEconomic

Someone asked for a map like this via twitter. It is not the prettiest and it is not the biggest. But it should give you a rough idea of where the closures map out across Christchurch (as well as the reprieves and the new schools). There is a map up on stuff, but it doesn’t show electorates.

I can’t promise it is 100% geographically accurate, but I’ve tried my best.

Closures vs electorates


The big black dots are closures. As you can see, there are actually 4 in National held seats, and three in Labour seats. However, there are far more mergers in the Labour held seats, mainly Christchurch East and Port Hills. The location of the New Schools is indicative, as Rolleston, Rangiora and Lincoln are all off the map. Of the new schools, 4 (West Halswell, Rolleston x 2, Lincoln) are in Selwyn (Amy Adams) and one (Rangiora West) is in Waimakariri. The already announced rebuild of Halswell school is in Selwyn, and the new school at Pegasus is in Waimak.

Update: One of the dots in the Wigram electorate is wrong: Greenpark school is in Selwyn, about 6km from Lincoln. Stuff’s map has it wrong too.


Branston Intermediate (Wigram)

Glenmoor (Central)

Greenpark (Selwyn)

Kendal (Ilam)

Linwood Intermediate (Central)

Manning Intermediate (Wigram)

Richmond (Central)


Burwood with Windsor (East)

Central New Brighton with South New Brighton (East)

Lyttleton Main with Lyttelton West (Port Hills)

North New Brighton with Freeville (East)

Phillipstown with Woolston (Central and Port Hills)

Discovery with Unlimited (Selwyn / Wigram? and Central)


Bromley (Port Hills)

Burnham (Selwyn)

Burnside Primary (Ilam)

Duvauchelle (Selwyn)

Gilberthorpe (Wigram)

Okains Bay (Selwyn)

Linwood Ave (Port Hills)

Ouruhia Model (East)

Shirley Intermediate (Central)

Yaldhurst (Selwyn)

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Whanau Tahi (Wigram)

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Waitaha (Port Hills)


* Lincoln (Selwyn)

* Rangiora West (Waimak)

* West Halswell (Selwyn)

* two in Rolleston (Selwyn)


Gerry and his new band “The Goosesteppers” try out some of their funky line-dancing moves on the streets of Avonside.

Gerry invites his mates Bob and Steve over to play on his new trampoline.

Gerry Brownlee and Steven Joyce prepare to throw the captured fugitive Roberto the Lizard into the Bromley sewerage treatment plant.

Got any other captions? Leave them in the comments. If I were a media manager for the Government or CERA, I’d be doing all I could to stop images like this from coming out. While many people secretly think that Bob and Gerry are having a great time fucking up the recovery, releasing images that seem to confirm that seems a really dumb idea.

Image and story credit – the Press

Who Runs This Town?

Who runs this town?


Army trucks outside the council