Archives for posts with tag: Herald

I had a column in the “Out of Left-field” section of the Herald on Sunday yesterday.

For those of you who haven’t visited Christchurch for a while, it’s probably easy to imagine that everything is trucking along nicely, that the city is irresistibly moving forward. For those of us living it every day, we don’t feel like rock stars.

We did get a little of the rock star treatment this week, with Wills and Kate popping in for a quick matinee show. Even after a tightly orchestrated tour of the sites the Government wanted them to see, the Duke expressed his surprise at how long the recovery was seeming to take. He isn’t the only foreign visitor to share that sentiment.

In case you missed it, the full text is here.


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.


Rumour has gone along way in the information void since the quake, so it is good to get word from the owner’s mouth, from time to time. This is what Richard Peebles had to say about trying to save the building he owns, Manchester Courts:

“But no one is prepared to say it will stand up to the next aftershock so I don’t see what choice I have. I’ve spent most of my working life restoring historic buildings and I won’t be there when it comes down. All the businesses within 100m can’t operate until the building is either down or safe and to make it safe would take months. I spent all last night trying to work out a way I could make safe it. But no one is going to allow that”

My house is within 100m, so that might explain why I can’t get in. There was also some interesting information in the same article from the Herald about the make-up of some of our quake-prone buildings:

* 7600 pre-1976 commercial blocks.

* 490 heritage-listed blocks.

* 295 unreinforced masonry.

* 29 reinforced concrete.

* 163 timber-frame.

* 220 strengthened to an extent.

Also, Cheryl has updated her blog with some more pictures and thoughts from a trip to the central city.