Wednesday, 9 March 2011


So lets look at what's happening in Christchurch rationally.

The PM 's right, about 10,000 houses are poked.

There are places that will not be good places to site leafy suburbs again.

There are buildings you would not want to rebuild again - even though they were symbols of good Christian ethics. They were only ever built in brick to appease the self agrandisement of the religious leaders of the past.

There is an infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.

Some people will never return and smaller towns will gobble up those who are going in an effort to grow their centres.

But Christchurch like Darwin will be rebuilt. It may mean people stay away for a long time. But its a fantastic location and people will want to return.

So in the wake of the quake - can the future be certain?

Yes, is the simple answer and there is no better example than Darwin. A town not just brought to its knees but completely wiped out -

Of nearly 50,000 people, only 10,000 were allowed to stay.

Darwin was rebuilt. It changed lives. The city was a new city.

Many of those who had lived there never went back - but new people did - people who saw different opportunities and had not experienced the ferocious Cyclone. The same will happen in Christchurch.

Reconstruction and effects on Darwin

In February 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced the creation of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, which was given the task of rebuilding the city "within five years". The Commission was headed by Tony Powell.[16] The damage to the city was so severe that some advocated moving the entire city. However, the government insisted that it be rebuilt in the same location. By May 1975, Darwin's population had recovered somewhat, with 30,000 residing in the city. Temporary housing, caravans, hotels and an ocean liner MV Patris, were used to house people, as reconstruction of permanent housing had not yet begun by September that year.

However, by the following April, and after receiving criticism for the slow speed of reconstruction, the Commission had built 3,000 new homes in the nearly destroyed northern suburbs, and completed repairs to those that had survived the storm. Several new building codes were drawn up, trying to achieve the competing goals of the speedy recovery of the area and ensuring that there would be no repeat of the damage that Darwin took in 1974. By 1978, much of the city had recovered and was able to house almost the same number of people as it had before the cyclone hit. However, as many as sixty percent of Darwin's 1974 population were no longer living in the city in the 1980s. In the years that followed, Darwin was almost entirely rebuilt and now shows almost no resemblance to the Darwin of December 1974


So there is going to be huge and radical upheaval of Christchurch - it will have a new face.

Key has been wise to signal the truths of the situation - like saying that 10,000 homes maybe demolished. Despite Civil Defences pedantic protestations and fiddling the figures.

The quicker that people have a chance to get their heads around the altered state of
Christchurch the better. What Key has been trying to do is give as much information to the people of Christchurch as he can when he thinks they are ready for it.

While Key has been superlative in starting to confront people with the realities of the future, what is now needed is for the Government to start making some concrete decisions for the rebuild of the city.

Big picture first and then fill in the details as they go.

The government wont always get it right, but it needs to do stuff and be honest about the expected impact of any decisions.

The resilience of the majority of Christchurch's citizens is amazing and its those same resilient people who will build a new city that will be the pride of the Mainland.

So this month should be all about grieving for those who have died and making the lives of those who are staying as comfortable as possible.

Then come next month - the plan for the Christchurch of the future should be mapped out for all Cantabrians to follow.

New will be different and it will be better. The tough brave proud people of Canterbury will ensure it is so.

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