Blog photographs

The recent Retreat Road photographs were more popular than I imagined. Blogger/Blogspot works best with Picasa Web Albums and so that is where the photographs are stored. Unfortunately Picasa Web Albums is difficult to find and navigate so a different tack is being tried.

Most of my Retreat Road photographs (October to June) have been put on Flickr. As we weren’t here in September there are no photographs immediately after the first earthquake. Some of the photographs have not appeared on the blog so there will be something new to see.

The photographs have been uploaded warts and all, editing takes too long, so there will be the occasional sloping horizon and less than perfect exposure. If there is enough interest, pictures from other streets can be put up when there is time. If I’ve labelled something wrong please let me know.

The flickr site is

Avonside Community Group Newsletter 31 May 2011

Another great newsletter from Leanne Curtis. The newsletter contains a large amout of information so check for the link that takes you to its continuation.

Hi people

We, like many others, are trying to decide whether or not we stick it out in Avonside for the long haul or rent for awhile to get a bit of breathing space. The pros and cons list is a confusing one and not made easier by the lack of sleep and endless waiting! It’s certainly more difficult after February and I fear many have retreated from their neighbours as we all struggle to keep our own families going through the difficult winter. I always want to hit back at the people who keep commenting on the resiliency of the eastern suburbs. Of course many are feeling resilient and are happy with their newly discovered community spirit. However, there are those of us who have done this for a long time now and don’t feel quite so able to help the neighbourhood in the same way. There has been a retreat from the ‘we’ to the ‘I’ and although it is very normal (according to disaster recovery research), it does make it more difficult to stay. On a positive note, at least the weather has been bright and the ground relatively still!


There are already a good number of issues around insurance being discussed – of course they are not in our favour.  PLEASE email me any issues you may be facing (if you are far enough done that track yet). I may not have answers but the more info we can put together the clearer the picture we get as to what is happening.

IAG and Hawkins contracts that people are being asked to sign read is if no one will be liable for repairs / building.  This has been presented to these two companies by CanCERN and the contracts are now being redone.  I will send you copies of these when they come to hand so you know what they look like.  Be careful about what you are signing.  –  Watch this space.

Word is that AMI are still going ahead with valuing houses in the eastern suburbs (whereas most other insurance companies are waiting until the land announcements shed some light). AMI appears to be trying to settle claims quickly by paying what is called market indemnity value and there are complaints that some feel bullied into settling. The word from a local valuer is that if anyone is considering settling, get good legal advice, read the policy very carefully and maybe even consider getting a second opinion on value. The issue with indemnity may be that the cost of rebuilding to current building codes exceeds the market value of your house. Full replacement insurance addresses this issue as the house has to be built to current codes and the costings are based on the current cost of materials.

Indemnity (Present Day Value)
An indemnity policy puts you back in the same financial position you were in prior to the loss occurring, so that you are no better or worse off than you were immediately before the loss. The settlement is based on how much you would pay for the item second-hand or the replacement cost of the item less an allowance (depreciation) for age and use. Indemnity value may also be referred to as Market Value or Present day Value. Your policy document will explain this for you.

CanCERN will work hard to negotiate cheap / free legal support for residents on a big scale.  In the meantime remember that Community Law (a free service)  has now set up an office in New Brighton next to the National Bank.
(click on the link to continue reading the newsletter)

Ideas for Avonside

Many people are still determined to explore their options for staying in Avonside which is heartening to hear. There are some great ideas worth following up and the CCC Community Engagement Advisor, Andrew Hensley is happy to work with us to think outside the square. One such idea is exploring how available Housing New Zealand land and CCC Reserve space can be for those who may be forced to retreat from their own section. If this land was made available for sale or land swap, it would allow people to stay within their community. Obviously there would be a lot of exploration needed for this concept and maybe some might think it is a little early being that we haven’t heard about land yet, but it does highlight the creative solutions a community can come up with. I’m following up with this suggestion and trying to get a bit of this kind of thinking happening as other communities may be looking for similar solutions.

(If you’d like more information about what this looks like in practice go to and read ‘Lockyer Vally, Queensland – land swapping out of the flood zone’ – Tuesday May 31 2011. There is also very good information about the limitations of the Insurance Ombudsman – Sunday May 29 2011. Thanks to Lawrence for this).

Neighbourhood Watch

After a few complaints about an annoying new resident in Avonside, I went and gave him a heads up on what people here have lived through and how short people’s fuses were. I asked him to stop wasting gas in his driveway, to take notice of the speed restrictions and to start using his chemical toilet. His response was typically arrogant but to his credit, he has been been more considerate with his driving!

As more people move away and (strangely) different people move in, it may be a good idea to consider whether a Neighbourhood Support Group is a good idea in your street. That way, people can keep an eye out on empty homes and know that someone is also keeping an eye on yours. It’s also a good way to meet any new people that may come into the neighbourhood. Apparently there has been an increase in burglaries in the area. I’m happy to get the Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator into talk to groups of people or you can contact them yourselves at:
Dave Wilkinson
Neighbourhood Support Canterbury
c/- P O Box 2109
Telephone: 03 420 9944

Holy Trinity Community Day – Monday 6 June
In the carpark of Holy Trinity Avonside (Lychgate Close – off Stanmore Rd) we are having a community fun day on the 6 June from 10am until 2pm.  The day will be a day for the whole family to enjoy!  It will have give-aways, as well as activities for children, and free bouncy castle and face painting. This is an opportunity for groups from our neighbourhood to fundraise or to raise awareness for their group.  If you are interested in having a table at this fun day (there are no costs) please contact Rosalyn Deane on 383-7980 or email on 

Road Work – Avonside Drive

Apparently residents should have received a letterbox drop explaining the work that is being done around Avonside Drive. I know that I never got one so have asked the Council to email me a copy of the leaflet and to continue to email me any other communication so I can put the information out via the newsletter.

Exploding Toilets

According to horror stories the exploding toilets have started again.  Please be aware of this.  If they are working the road in your street then they may be pressurizing the system which can cause blow back.  Put a brick on the toilet or tape it down. 

If you come home to a mess then call the 941 8999 number and the council said they would come out and clean it up. 

If you have had this happen already and you had it cleaned up through your insurance you can send a copy of the excess and an explanation to the council and they MAY reimburse you. 

Chemical Toilets

Yes, we are still having to use them although the CCC assure us they are ahead of schedule and hope to have Avonside people on a temporary solution by August.

Council water and waste manager Mark Christison said “a variety of techniques” would allow residents in badly damaged areas such as Bexley and Avonside to use their toilets again.”Whilst an area might have really damaged sewers we might have a section we can use as a holding tank and plug both ends.
“Or we can lay temporary shallow sewers and connect laterals [pipes from individual homes] to that. Then we can over-pump it to a working piece of sewer.” (for the full article)

CanCERN worked with EQC, CCC and Civil Defence to organise that people’s broken lateral would be fixed as main sewer lines were being dealt with (not at the homeowners expense). Make sure this is happening if this kind of work is happening in your area.


Not much that is new to write about other than we can expect the report towards the end of June, rather than May.

Sue Wells, CCC Councillor, has written about what they have been told about land retreat by Minister Gerry Brownlee. For a read, go to:

Sue also makes comment about “longer term seismic series”. It’s not a settling read but if you want to know what this means go to:

Greening the Rubble & GapFiller

If you are interested in being part of initial discussions regarding what could happen to put a bit of life and colour back into Avonside, please email me at These discussions may or may not involve the Medway Street Bridge. The purpose of these organisations is to turn ‘munted’ plots into temporarily vibrant spaces. Although initially this work was aimed at the CBD, they are keen to explore options in the suburbs.
Once again, let me know if there is anything I can help with.

Kind regards
Leanne Curtis
72 Keller Street
Ph: 3385255