Earthquake Recovery Symposium

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods has announced an earthquake recovery symposium to be held in November. There is a news release concerning this on the Council’s website here.

The news item in Tuesday’s Press says it “… will be held on November 29 and 30 at the University of Canterbury. Up to 250 people from the public, private, community and academic realms will be invited.” Mayor Lianne Dalziel is quoted as saying the symposium will be preceded by a series of workshops.  The full article is on the Press website here .

Maybe my opinion is unduly cynical but it seems to me this is yet another high-risk situation. Many of the principle participants may be serial symposium and conference attendees, rather than practical and experienced people. If so it could end up being a talk-fest for a range of folk who neither directly experienced the after-effects of the earthquakes, nor made a valuable contribution to the recovery effort. Minister Woods is quoted by the Council:

“The Symposium will be an event of national importance, sharing lessons from the Canterbury earthquakes so that New Zealand as a whole can be better prepared in future for any similar natural disasters,” Dr Woods says.

“The Canterbury earthquakes were unprecedented. They provide us with many valuable lessons, which we continue to review and learn from to ensure our communities are more resilient and prepared.

While these people will have something to share, can we be sure about how well the lessons are understood? Such sharing is premature in the absence of substantial external investigations into how well various agencies performed. Some time this year EQC will be up for scrutiny, which is good. However we still await investigation into the performance of CERA, private insurers, Council, and the health system. How can we learn from our experiences if only official respectful, constructive, and forward-focused versions of events are available? Will, with the passage of time, institutional memories be created of heroic and insightful efforts to the exclusion of inconvenient realities? What harm will that do in misinforming future recovery efforts?

And what of Mayor Dalziel’s workshops? Is this a polite way of saying the experiences and knowledge of the ordinary person will funnelled into well managed groups where minders with flipcharts, or sticky notes to put on the wall, will record what is said, promising it will be relayed to the higher-ups? Hopefully Minister Woods will ensure that those who experienced it all first hand, the workers who fixed the problems, the scientists who walked through the silt, the medical professionals who handled the harm, will have an influential and undiluted voice.

As an aside, Minister Brownlee cancelled an earlier proposed symposium in November 2016. A Press article about the cancellation (here) stated “Fifty-one speakers, including overseas attendees, had been confirmed and “speaker guidelines” were produced to ensure a “respectful, constructive, and forward-focused event”. Among those invited to speak were ” … Prime Minister John Key, Sir Peter Gluckman, former EQC boss Ian Simpson and numerous international experts.” Dinner was to be held at the Tannery. A really experienced and well-informed bunch? Will it be a similar cast of characters this year?

Vestiges – a Red Zone photography exhibition

You may recall the Thanx 4 the Memories exhibition back in August 2013. Tim Veling, one of the photographers involved with that project, is continuing to photograph the Red Zones as the land changes.

Tim has a small exhibition of some of the changed landscapes at COCA gallery in Christchurch. Details of the exhibition, that runs until the 29th of July, can be found on COCA’s website here.

An interesting challenge is to look at the images and try to identify where they were taken! Addresses are given in the programme accompanying the exhibition.

Tim is also administrator of the ongoing Place in Time: The Christchurch Documentary Project.  You can see more of Tim’s Red Zone images if you follow the links below:

https://www.timjveling.com/thx-4-the-memories

https://www.timjveling.com/rewilding/

Residential Red Zone offer feedback sought

CERA is seeking feedback on their Preliminary Draft Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan. Comments must be submitted by 5.00pm on the 19th of May. The Draft plan starts off by explaining the “why?”.

The purpose of developing the ‘Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan’ is to assist the Crown (through the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (“CERA”)) to determine whether it should make new offers to buy vacant, commercial and uninsured properties in the residential red zone and, if so, how such offers should be structured.

However, before the plan there has to be a draft plan.

This is the Preliminary Draft Recovery Plan, notified for public consultation on 5 May 2015. This Preliminary Draft is the first opportunity for everyone to provide their views. You do not have to be an affected property owner or live in greater Christchurch to have a say. This public consultation is an important first step. The Preliminary Draft is in essence a discussion document, which sets out the key contextual information and developments. It focuses on the key questions the Crown will need to consider about the vacant, commercial and uninsured red zone properties, and it asks for your views. It does not predetermine what any final Crown offer will
be.

A copy of the draft plan is available here and you can make an online submission part way down the page here. There are two pages of information designed to explain what is happening and why. Click on the page name shown in red to go to that page.

  1. Public to have say on red zone offers – background to the court case over payments to some living in the Red Zones, the court ruling, how this process is designed to ensure all who are affected (directly or indirectly) and how to have your say.
  2. Questions and Answers – a series of questions, with supporting answers, to help clarify what is going on. The questions are:
    • What was the decision made by the Supreme Court?
    • What is a ‘Recovery Plan’?
    • What is the Residential Red Zone Offer
    • Recovery Plan – Preliminary Draft?
    • Why do you need me to comment?
    • Will this Recovery Plan decide what the offer will be?
    • What happens next?

The Cabinet Paper setting up this exercise is here. .

Communicating Earthquake-related Science

The following is from the latest CanCERN newsletter. We have been asked to promote this survey to interested participants. The project, Communicating Earthquake-related Science, is being undertaken as part of the requirements for a University of Otago PhD. The survey looks at how aspects of earthquake-related disasters, and ways of minimising them, are being communicated in the mass media and whether this is serving people’s information needs. The questions asked of participants relate to their opinions about how earthquake-related information, and how to minimise disasters, is communicated. Click here for the information sheet about the survey and here to follow the link to the survey. .

A Tale of Two Crises – Reserve Bank governor's view on Europe and Christchurch

Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard delivered a speech to the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce on Friday. Entitled A tale of two crises it covered both the economic threat posed to New Zealand by Europe’s debt crisis, and the Canterbury earthquakes.

The first part of the speech covers Europe, the threats and opportunities for New Zealand and some scenarios for where the European problem may develop.

The Christchurch situation covers progress to date, issues with insurance and uncertainty, and the financial impact of the damage (international and domestic).

The speech is available here.
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