Two years on: Christchurch leaders need to take people with them

CERA chief executive Roger Sutton: "Get real”

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore has a point.

On the second anniversary of the September 2010 earthquake he says it is time to shine the torchlight of democracy on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).

CERA chief executive Roger Sutton dismisses Mr Moore, who he says sounds like someone who has been “left out in the cold”.

Mr Sutton has hit the nail on the head.

Mr Moore, an acknowledged community leader and a businessman in his own right, has indeed been “left out in the cold” – like most other residents in Christchurch.

Mr Sutton says “get real” and that someone needs to dictate the path of recovery.

But from a planning perspective the recovery was already well under way, with the adoption earlier this year of the city council annual plan via the Share An Idea series of public and submissions.

Christchurch people came up with sensible proposals, and the majority asked for relatively modest projects. For example, they chose a $200 million uncovered stadium with seating for around 30,000, ample for most rugby matches these days.

Prime Minister John Key then launched CERA’s Central City Development Unit blueprint amid hoopla and pr-bolstered cheerleading.

It foisted an architect’s fantasy of massive buildings that could bankrupt a small city of about 350,000 residents.

Property would be seized by the state and sold to new developers to construct massive civic edifices.

Instead of saying – “Yes, we like the blueprint but of course we must tweak the architect’s imagination”, CERA, ministers and various business leaders adopt “TINA”: there is no alternative.

This includes the madness of bulldozing functioning buildings and businesses, some of them brand new.

Glimpses in local newspaper reports suggest the Central City Development Unit is pulling back from its scorched earth policy.

But CERA’s Mr Sutton and the CCDU’s Warwick Isaacs communicate none of this to residents.

Mr Isaacs is invisible to the public except on rare occasions when Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee holds a breakfast or cocktail briefing to outline the work that has been done.

This regurgitated speech is based on a missive put together a month ago by EQC public relations folk, aimed at explaining the magnitude of the event.

The same tired functionaries and “leaders” attend each briefing. Familiar faces take the top table to hear the message yet again.

Meanwhile, Mr Sutton’s energies are largely engaged in mollifying the anger and resentment at the 20-odd public meetings being held around the city this month. Hundreds attend each meeting to vent their frustrations.

The disconnect between the platitudes and the reality is palpable at these meetings.

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15 Comments & Questions

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Goodness... Mr Hutching, I had to do a double take and reread your first few lines, and then the penny dropped as to the twist in the commentary. Well done. I am sure the Cera etc glee club will be looking forward to any preening of their collective egos and won't be too happy to receive another well worded bollocking. Cera, Eqc and the Brownlee bag men PR collective that all wallow in their well funded, privileged charade of competence. Every one of them should hang their heads for shame that they are even attempting to staunch out what is a disaster piled on layers of deceit. EQC has not made any effort to rid itself of any of the tired old men so typical of a monopoly insurer that was a cosy old club never expecting to ever have to deliver and now it continues to fib that it has any real intent to pay out full and fair. As for the other insurers, the public know they are scum. Then we get to Cera and the council names so famous, weasel words and platitudes dont cut it anymore and when in a few years they are all glad handing and giving each other civic awards and certificates at least history will record what the public really think of them. Christchurch will pull through in some form despite them I hope.

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I think the EQC is the elephant in the room. It has been lauded as ensuring every home-owner has earthquake insurance but in fact has been a compounding disaster:

a) it creates a ghastly split in responsibility with huge opportunity for buck-passing and gaming.
b) it creates a conflict of interest for the Government whose proper role should be ensuring insurance companies are compelled to provide prompt and proper payouts - but who now have a conflicting duty to moderate EQC liabilities on behalf of the taxpayer.

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This is true, but CERA make EQC look like a paragon of virtue. Neither should exist, but while EQC's on-the-job problems are mainly of the incompetency variety, CERA's are of the arrogant, we-know-what's good-for-you kind. They appear to have learnt nothing from the lessons of 100+ years of failed central planning. The dinosaur in the room, perhaps?

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I blame the RMA to a large degree.

It has allowed anyone and everyone who think they have a valid point to make, to make it - regardless of merit or worth - and the ability to "stall" any and all manner of anything in their neighbourhood just because they can - if they don't like it.

Christchurch Cathederal is a case in point...

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I look forward to you 4 all standing at the next local body elections. The last poster Solidarity has hit the nail on the head, add in democracy and nothing gets done quickly. You lot need to wake up and smell the roses.

As for Moore- what a failure in days gone by IMHO- makes Parker bearable.

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While your CEO Marryatt is at the helm I don't think the Christchurch City Council can provide any credible leadership.

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Brilliant - Suttons criticism of Moore was laughable - Moore is representing not just his views but many of those of us in ChCh worst hit areas. Sutton needs to grow a pair and start working with his community instead of sucking up to reinsurers and CBD issues. He has no idea of the reality residents face and is flippant and arrogant. His understandings of the impacts of the earthquake are his often used quotes from staff of his or a friend of a friend who knew a friend. Never voted Moore but in this case he is bang on the money.

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Moore is just a failed Labour Party hack, who perpetuated the Peoples Republic of Christchurch under Aunty Helen's patronage.

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Sorry, i finally got the point but this is just really confusing writing. Please just be clear, or take some time to re-read what you've written before publishing. Or get subs? It;s just a shame when you have something to say that you try to be clever but ...well... aren't.

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Bravely spoken, Chris. This should get you excluded from a few more of Gerry's / Bob's / Roger's / Tony's PR p*ssups!

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Roger Sutton's bike riding casual approach has worn very thin. He needs to shape up or ship out. What Christchurch needs is leadership skills which are sorely lacking in Sutton. He couldn't even manage his way out of a paper bag let alone the recovery of our City.

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Gerry Brownlee should be nicknamed Gerry Brownshirt. Not only is he behaving like a Nazi Gauleiter - worse still, he very obviously enjoys it. He seems to be a natural fascist.

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Hold on - everyone wanted Sutton to run CERA, including the Reds, after his performance at Orion. Now everyone wants to bag him. As they say be careful what you wish for. Silly politics at play here together with some poor journalism.- a bit like the local rag. Sensationalism over facts and the reality of the whole situation..

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Well said, Chris. And Solidarity needs to check his facts - the RMA does not apply to anything Gerry and co do - heard of the Chch EQ Recovery Act? Have a read.

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*Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act...

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