The Devastation and Rebirth of Christchurch, New Zealand


Thousands of people who have been forced from their homes have been offered a Government payout. New Zealand has a government-backed Earthquake Commission (EQC). But the payouts will be insufficient for people to afford new homes. There are few new subdivisions and land prices have been assessed by the international Demographia group as “severely unaffordable.” Brownlee’s response was that the offer was generous. His response to questions of where the new houses would be was to “let the market decide.”

People have become frustrated and angry at the slow progress and mismanagement of some insurance clams. EQC’s response: The disaster was unprecedented, the scale massive. Overseas reinsurance companies, beset by one of the worst years ever for natural disasters, have been slow to provide continued cover, thus stymieing new building.

CERA, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, was set up, but its main responsibility so far has been managing demolitions.

Mayor Bob Parker, a media-savvy former TV presenter, won early acclaim for his morale-boosting TV appearances. Yet, by year’s end, he too, fell foul of public opinion, prompting a mass protest – triggered in part by secret council decisions behind closed doors, including the decision to award the council’s CEO a massive salary increase. People who had lost their loved ones, homes, or jobs labeled the increase and apparent lack of empathy appalling.