Survey of former residential red zone owners who accepted Crown offers

CERA is currently surveying all who were Red Zoned and accepted the  Government’s (Crown)  offer.  Research company Neilsen are conducting the survey and invitations to take part started going out via e-mail on the 14th (last week).

If you were Red Zoned, and took the offer, you should have received a survey invitation by now. If not it is likely to be the result of a change of e-mail address since the Crown offer process started. Whatever the reason, you can participate by ringing Neilsen on  0800 400 402.

If you are cautious about taking part in case it resurrects stresses and demons best left buried, Neilsen offer the following advice in the first part of the survey:

We hope that you will find the survey experience positive, but we understand that many former property owners may find the issues it covers difficult and taking part may bring back mixed emotions. If you find this to be the case we encourage you to consider calling the Canterbury Support Line on 0800 777 846 or to contact a trusted friend. You are free to stop the survey at any time.

Should your caution be motivated by cynicism or mistrust you won’t be alone. Never the less give thought to at least looking at the survey. If you don’t have your say, your views won’t be in the mix.

The survey is structured in an unusual way that may, or may not, fully and accurately capture the issues and experiences of Red Zoners. There are two parts for some participants to fill in, and one for others. Each part has a wide range of questions.  It may be you will find the questions don’t address issues that were, or still are, important. This can be saved up for the final part of the survey where there is (at least in the draft I have seen courtesy of Neilsen and CERA) an open-ended question:

Finally, please add any comments or suggestions you would like to make, particularly any suggestions about what more could be done to help people in the future if their properties are in the worst affected areas following a natural disaster.

Take the opportunity to say what you have to say, there may never be another chance. Were there stresses that the survey overlooks  (e.g. being in the limbo of an Orange zoning, having to relocate while the Ministry of Education was restructuring schools)? Were there services that just weren’t up to it and so you didn’t use them  (e.g. a medical centre or other health service you thought incapable or unwilling to give the help needed?)  Anything else? Mention it now; include the things that worked, as knowing what worked is as important as knowing what failed. 

Unfortunately for some, the survey is designed to be completed on-line (another example of not acknowledging the electronic world is inaccessible or alien to many?). Even those with computers and the skills to use them may have difficulties – many of us were brought up as part of a paper based and reflective culture where time was available and drafts were used to ensure we said as clearly as we could exactly what we meant. If you know anyone who would struggle to do this perhaps you could help them, or maybe ring Neilsen and see what support they can offer. The Human Rights Commission and others may have something to contribute here.

The following is CERA’s release intended for those who haven’t been contacted about the survey:

CERA is conducting a voluntary, confidential online survey of former residential red zone property owners who accepted Crown offers for purchase of their properties. The survey is intended to help the Government, local authorities and communities in responding to any similar situations that might come up in the future.

CERA has contacted former property owners (or people who acted on their behalf) directly, but some people’s contact details have changed in the past couple of years. If you’re a former residential red zone property owner who accepted a Crown offer for purchase of your property and haven’t received your invitation to participate, please contact Nielsen, the independent research company carrying out the survey on CERA’s behalf: 0800 400 402.

Red Zoners and CERA’s Residential Advisory Service

As is their continuing practice, CERA have announced a process – this time the Residential Advisory Service (RAS) – with no supporting detail. It commences on the 20th of May and might be the way to break through the problems between the insured, insurers and their project management organisations (PMOs).

With the 31 July departure date approaching a few are still stuck in the Red Zone because there is no closure with insurers. Could the RAS be the means of getting these people unstuck? To what extent will it help those in TC3 or TC2 with problems?

The potential value of the RAS for Red Zoners hinges on factors not yet public (or perhaps not yet worked out). On the face of it, the Service is likely to be suitable to process simple to moderately complicated issues of genuine misunderstanding, or an inability to pull all the bits together. It is optimistic to see the apparent premise of the Service, producing results through better provision of information and opportunities for conversations, as the solution to more complex or entrenched problems. 

The background against which the RAS will operate is bleak. The observation has been made that anxiety and humiliation is experienced by sensitive and honest people when they are forced into contact with people whose standards are commercial. This is a bewildering and damaging experience, being exposed to the brutal legalism and calculating adversarial approach of insurers and PMOs who have a different set of values, and very different rules of corporate and personal motivation and conduct.

Sometimes residents encounter employees not averse to misunderstanding, misleading or pressuring where they can. This puts residents at risk of being wilfully misled by one-sided policy, building code, and building contract interpretations. The result is loss of legitimate entitlement, loss of equity, and loss of wellbeing.

How will CERA ensure the RAS process is strictly neutral, free of the tactics of hard bargainers, and motivated to produce prompt, credible results?

The RAS Process (click the link to continue)

Where there is a disagreement the property owner rings a number and, if eligible, booked in. Fine. Then what? How will the process be handled? Will the process be fair in the eyes of the property owners?[1]  Possibly not.

There is clear cause for uncertainty and mistrust as the Service is a deal between CERA and insurers. Minister Brownlee has never wanted an advocacy system, insurers certainly don’t, so it is logical to hold the view for now that the RAS has not been set up with particularly pure motives (a time wasting, energy sapping Trojan horse perhaps?).

Traditional methods of handling disagreements involve arbitration, tribunals, or the courts. Facilitation by itself does not lead to resolution, and there is significant risk that a weak process (or weak or inexperienced facilitators) may become an opportunity for insurers or PMOs to field representatives who are practiced at being economic with the truth, aggressive, or both, to provide input that is self-serving, possibly intimidating, and push heavily for closure on improper terms.
From this arise some questions for Roger Sutton:

  • How will the service operate to ensure that it is not used as an accessory to the methods of insurers and PMOs?
  • Who will look to protecting the legitimate interests of those who are out of their depth and cannot afford the high cost of legal advice and support?
  • At what point does a disagreement become too complicated or intractable, and the Service backs away? What happens then?
  • How will the hard problems be addressed? 

Possible areas of risk to users of the RAS

Areas where the Service might fall short for Red Zoners are potentially issues for Green Zone residents too. No issues are likely to be Red Zone specific, however access, timeliness, and the quality and level of participation in the process are critical for Red Zoners.

Access: This is a fraught area. If everyone can use the Service then it will rival EQC in the time taken to close all cases. Apply a selection process and each applicant turned away is a potential OIA enquiry, particularly if there is not a review process. How will urgency of need be prioritised? Is the Red Zone a priority case? Are Red Zone cases too hard, and therefor excluded?

Timeliness: What is the expected average timeframe for a case, from start to finish? Clearly it will vary depending on the complexity of the problem(s), but credibility will hinge on the speed of the process and the number of delays experienced by residents. How will the cases of Red Zoners who have impending deadlines be handled? Once Red Zoners are in the system it would be a reasonable expectation on their part that CERA will not push or harass them into a decision, or out of their house, while the RAS process is underway. Is this how CERA sees it?

Appropriate participants: Organising the right people to meet with residents will be a key part of the process. What resources will insurers allocate to the Service, will these resources be the relevant case managers and, of great significance to rapid processing, will they have the authority to both speak for their company and to commit to anything at the time of the discussions? If not, is the process flawed? The same issues apply to the participation of EQC and the various PMOs regarding incomplete or disputed assessments.

Commitment: What levels of time and resource commitment will be made by the parties? As a notional example: if 200 Southern Response customers entered the system would Southern Response provide resources for customers to be processed in parallel, or just one at a time? How many facilitators will there be? How many days a week will they work? How many days a week will the RAS operate? Will they do evening or weekend sessions so residents don’t have to lose work time and possibly income?

Status of outcomes

A wider issue is that of the decisions reached. Once a particular issue is resolved, will details of what is agreed be public? Will the resolution reached be considered by all participants to be a precedent? If yes, then it needs to be published in some detail to allow other situations with the same circumstances to be sorted outside the Service. If not, then we have another secret CERA process and considerable unnecessary duplication and delay as the same set of circumstances are reconsidered multiple times.

Interim conclusion

At this stage CERA will have to work hard if the RAS is going to be offered to those in the Red Zone. If it won’t be available to them then that is an act of prejudice against those most urgently in need of it.

For residents in the Green zones the Service has some potential but more detail is required before getting excited. It might be the service becomes just a souped up version of the CERA hubs.

Given the track record of Minister Brownlee, EQC, and insurers so far there is a risk that this will become primarily an exercise in looking good without any significant change to current practices.
[1]  NOTE: The wording on the CERA web site is prejudicial against the resident where it says: “(you) believe you are in disagreement with another party over your repair or rebuild process.” Chances are most residents will feel the situation is more concrete than that: they ARE in disagreement and have lived with it for some time.

Tribute to Avonside – Holy Trinity Avonside

For those who, like Julie, weren’t able to be in Avonside today.

Holy Trinity Avonside hosted a service of thanksgiving this afternoon remembering and giving thanks for life in Avonside. After the service there was afternoon tea and a wide range of photo boards showing different aspects of Avonside from over the last 100 or more years. Photographs and the order of service are below.

To Rosalyn and the others who organised and supported this tribute, and did many other things for the people of Avonside, thank you. Matthew 25: 38, 40.

Opening Prayer

Click on the link to see more

Ed Hitchcock

Our Place photo board

Paint Your Memories

Mothers’ Union photo board.

Weddings photo board

Love Avonside chalk board

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

 Order of Service

Tribute to Avonside
Past, Present and Future

Opening:Revd. Jill KeirHymn:Now Thank We All Our GodVersicle and Response:Leader: Grace and peace to you from God.People: God fill you with peace and joy.Leader: The Lord be with you.People: The Lord bless you.Reminiscences:Ed Hitchcock (People’s Earden),Revd. Michael ColemanPrayers of Thanks:Rosalyn Deane (Bishop’s Warden) reproduced in full belowAnthem by Choir:Ave Verum by MozartReading:Philippians 4:4-9  Christine MaceyReflection:Bishop Victoria MatthewsPrayer and BlessingBishop Victoria MatthewsHymn:Amazing Grace  

Prayers of Thanks

God of our beginnings and endings, we share in celebrating together this place – Avonside.

We thank you for this day; that among friends, neighbours – past and present, we can come together with wonderful memories  of this area, Avonside.

If we have lived in Avonside, or if we have visited family, or friends that lived here, we have wonderful memories of this place. We have been for river walks, canoeing, swinging on the knotted willows into the water, we have been fishing, we have been eeling, and more. God you have given us these memories which help shape who we are, and what we value. Our memories strengthen us in our time of sorrow.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all who have lived here. For all those, for whom this place is or has been ‘home’. We thank you for all people who have shown love and care for those around them, and have been a major part of community life here.

May the love that is in our hearts be a bond that unites us forever, wherever we may be. You are the source of our love for each other; you have been with us through our hardest times; bringing comfort and support, bringing others to our aide. In quiet moments you soothe our fears, and encourage us to carry on. As we move through every sorrow and trial of this life, uphold us and comfort us. May we be given a sense of the presence of your risen Son and may we share in his resurrection, redeemed and restored to the fullness of life; this we ask, for the sake of Jesus our Lord.  Amen

The Anxious Times – newsletter of Anxiety Support

The previous blog entry introduced Anxiety Support. One of the significant services they provide is a quarterly support newsletter The Anxious Times that can be read on-line or downloaded for reading later ( or printing out). Copies of the newsletters are available here.

The newsletters published to date are:

Autumn 2013

Prescription changes, Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder, Cluttering Vs Hoarding, Thinking About Working, Mental Health Websites.

Summer 2013

Post Earthquake Depression; Antidepressants or Dandelions; Happiness is not the purpose in life; Silent face of Social Phobia.

Spring 2012

Out of the Blue; Always Expect Recovery; Youth Health; Rural Services; Transport for Christchurch; School closures Cause Anxiety.

Winter 2012

Sleeping Easy; Gardening and Mental Health; Warm water and lemon; Forgive and Forget;

Autumn 2012

OCD Studies; Supporting Families; Work and Income; Ochiltree Earthquake Retreat; Post Traumatic Stress; Anxiety, Hoarding and Clutter

Summer 2011/2012

Happiness; Laughter; Promoting Support groups; The Tuesday programme

Winter 2011

Resilience; Cultural Activities good for health; Earthquake Support

Anxiety support for Cantabrians

Anxiety Support is a non-profit organisation working for people who experience, or support others who have, any form of anxiety.  Anxiety Support’s services are free to people aged 18-65 who live in Canterbury. They have a blog (here) and a website (here) where information about their services, and the support that can be provided, is available. .