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I’ve been up in Wellington for the last 24 hours, for the launch of my cousin Lotta’s book (which you can find more details about here) and so have been less connected that I usually am. So you may or may not have seen a couple of things that I’ve been involved in. The first was a post I wrote at The Standard, about the recovery (of course):

For so many of the people in this still-broken city, they feel that this is a journey which they have been left to walk alone. More than that, it is a journey which they are walking alone, into a howling headwind of government bureaucracy and ineptitude. Too often they find themselves fighting against the state, rather than working with them. One gets the impression that for all the visits and photo ops, Key just doesn’t get the situation down here.

The second was a feature by Philip Matthews in the Mainlander section of the paper, that interviews a range of Christchurch candidates, including myself:

In one way, Dann might have been an odd fit for Ilam, but in another, it was an ideal match. As earthquake recovery minister, Brownlee has been the chief target of Dann’s Rebuilding Christchurch blog. Now he gets to take him on in person. Dann is increasingly convinced that the blueprint is not working, and is too ambitious for a city the size of Christchurch. The widespread apathy in the city is just as problematic.

“We seem to be sleepwalking towards knocking down cathedrals, knocking down heritage buildings, knocking down a swimming pool to build a playground. National can say it has a mandate from 2011, but no one voted on a stadium, no one voted on a convention centre and no one voted on the frame.”

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.

 

Some links to stories, some links to useful pages you may or may not have seen.

Geonet is the sight to go to when you need to settle bets about the size of the last aftershock

this is an open source google map on which people have added useful information about Christchurch

the Christchurch Quake Map has proven to be one of the clearest ways to visualise the quake.

an unashamedly left-wing take on the economic stimulus that the earthquake may or may not lead to

The Herald wraps up some bits from various blogs (including this one)

Earthquakes are not good for the economy” (Stuff)

State houses may need to be demolished (Stuff)

I’ve just got back from a drink with a few friends. I think we’re a little odd, in that we either lived in the city or ran businesses there. I feel as though me and my circle of friends – most of whom have lost, at least temporarily – either their place of work or residence may be more affected than most people in the city. I don’t mean that we are martyrs or anything like that, just that there are probably a large number of people for whom this quake will have quite a small effect, comparatively. Some of the suburbs are untouched, whilst others, especially those on the northern and eastern fringes of the central city, are devastated. It’s hard to talk about anything else apart from the quake – where we were when it happened, what we did in the next day or two, experiences getting in and out of the cordon, whether things will be knocked down or whether they will get a reprieve.

It’s clear to me – at least from the people that I’ve been talking to – that the people who live and work in the city are really concerned about some of most precious buildings, as well as worrying about getting the city up and running again. One of my friends, who works at C1, says they will be opening in 2 weeks. The building is fine, but then, what is the point of opening up a cafe within a cordoned off area? As the scale of the clean up becomes clearer each day, I think those of us who live (or used to live) within the cordon can see it staying up for a much longer time than we had initially imagined.

I went out through Lyttelton, Sumner and Woolston today, and I hope to get some photos and thoughts up about that tomorrow. Let’s hope for a shake-free night.