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Speaker: The secret Christchurch conversation ... about leaving

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  • Emma Hart,

    Yeah, these are thoughts that have recently started running through my family's minds as well. We didn't even think about leaving in the immediate aftermath of the quakes. But now... There's what Stephen describes as "ambient despair" (I think): this utter low-level but absolutely constant sense of stagnation and decline that's an effort to push away. Just this morning, we've been told our leaking roof is actually undetected earthquake damage, and I have no hope at all that it'll be covered by insurance. Maybe we should actually just walk away.

    Instead, we are valiantly buying raised beds for our sodden garden and just soldiering on.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • llew40,

    Thanks Greg, thats a very sobering and moving account.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    (well +2, and 2 cats really)

    Thanks for articulating this so well Greg.

    and Stuff like this doesn’t help one jot!

    ’Sort it out Lianne’
    TV3 broadcaster Paul Henry has joined critics accusing the Christchurch City Council of being too slow to produce solutions to the repeated flooding of homes and streets.

    nor this tosh from Paul Gorman at The Press.

    Between emotion vampires like Paul “how’s-my-ratings’ Henry, and Susie ‘shout-over-the-top-of-people-trying-to-answer-the-previous-question’ Ferguson I’m giving up on the Media for any reasoned response
    No more Morning Report for me, what’s the point anymore – tossers!
    And I never watch Henry's show it is worse than Seven sharp (if that is possible)…

    [edited to change reference to Henry's tv 'show' rather than radio]

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Ianmac,

    Suzie's performance this morning on Morning Report with Lianne, was appalling. She asks the good questions but yells over the top of the answer -repeatedly. When an interviewee slides off the answer it is great that the interviewer drags them back. (Looking at you John Key!) But this morning was a very black mark for Suzie.

    In our house we are deeply saddened by stories such as Greg's and his story must be told. There are so many in this apparently insoluble quagmire. Best wishes Greg.

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report

  • Gregor Ronald,

    We had next-door neighbours in the red zone who left for Nelson - a professional couple with two primary-age boys. They needed to get the kids into a secure school setting, and luckily their employment worked out well. Now they enjoy a great lifestyle in the sunshine, while Christchurch gets crappier by the day.

    We're in our 60s and we know we'll never see a viable city centre - life has shrunk to a series of suburban malls with occasional bars and restaurants dotted about, and city administration has become a struggle between quangos and the CCC.

    I still have sympathy for the Council, but their performance is far from adequate, especially with issuing building consents. Having Key and Brownlee blame the CCC for flooding that's a direct result of the quakes is not helping, but I still hope the flood victims can be helped by somebody.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell,

    Sobering thoughts. Thanks Greg, for putting it so well. We’re in the lucky basket. But there’s a nagging feeling Christchurch is being hammered and the ‘rebuild’ botched. Even for those in fairly good circumstances, it’s hard to be around. Being on the blunt end of it must be horrible. Best wishes.
    Hope the sun keeps shining.
    ETA: yeah, Susy F IV with Dalziel was horrible this morning. Stupid interviewing- couldn't hear what either of them were saying. And as it happened, I wanted to hear Lianne.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Angela Hart,

    Miles away and without direct experience of the events in Christchurch I feel for those still hanging on. I know some are tied by not being able to sell their property. I'm sure that if I had been living in Christchurch, I would be well gone by now.
    The properties that are being repeatedly flooded are unliveable and those people need a workable immediate solution to their accommodation needs.
    Government and Council are slow to act for various (some valid) reasons but supporting the people now dispossessed must be imperative. Is there anything the luckier rest of us can do to help?

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report

  • Marian Hobbs,

    Thank you, Greg. Articulating the emotional grinding was excellent, especially for someone like myself who has been out of the country, let alone away from ChCh. for the last five years.From the outside one can grasp the enormity of the earthquake, but not the daily pressure of the seemingly endless consequences, such as flooding, and faulty infrastructure, particularly the hidden kind.
    And I too was really annoyed with Morning Report's Suzie this morning. I did want to hear Lianne.

    Dunedin, New zealand • Since Jan 2009 • 4 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Between emotion vampires like Paul “how’s-my-ratings’ Henry, and Susie ‘shout-over-the-top-of-people-trying-to-answer-the-previous-question’ Ferguson I’m giving up on the Media for any reasoned response No more Morning Report for me, what’s the point anymore – tossers!And I never watch Henry's show it is worse than Seven sharp (if that is possible)…

    Yeah Morning Report seems to over do that, to be fair the previous inhabitants used to do the same thing. There is a time and a place when you do need to hold a politician's feet to the fire, but it's a tool that probably should be used pretty sparingly to stop yourself from seeming shrill and annoying. A good reporter should be able to get the information they need with careful questioning, keep the bullying for the politician who's obviously evading, not just talking too slowly for you.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Hebe,

    Update: On this morning's dog walk through the squish, we see neighbour Steph and friend glumly unscrewing the gib from the garage wall, removing the pink batts and putting them out to dry, with daughter waterblasting the drive. The mud is thick and sticky nearer the river corner and pastes the road and footpath.

    Spilled garbage combines with muck and autumn leaves on footpaths and roads. I'm taking pictures and resolving to go home and start ringing the council for a clean-up crew or two and posting pictures to news outlets.

    Then, miraculously, a council-contracted Bobcat arrives, a sucker truck, a scrubber machine and they set to work. Then TV news. The clean-up is finally under way: it didn't happen the last two floods. And The Press has asked to publish this piece of Greg's.

    We're finally being taken seriously round here, and that feels somewhat comforting.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Emma Hart,

    There’s what Stephen describes as “ambient despair” (I think): this utter low-level but absolutely constant sense of stagnation and decline that’s an effort to push away.

    “Ambient distress”, I think I have used in the past. Free-floating psychic hurt, there’s a lot of it around in this city. Especially in the areas where the damage and emptiness are all too visible still, every day. You might not have suffered from the quakes in any way – how could I, I wasn’t here – and yet still be worn down by your own daily small challenges and responding to the hurts of others.

    I moved here post-quake and have nothing personal to complain of in my household circumstances. But this really speaks to my own selfish concerns:

    “What we older ones realise is that a functioning metropolitan city will arise again too late for us.”

    I’m 44. I fear that by the time there’s anything like a genuine *city* here again, I’ll be too old to enjoy its amenities, or at least that I won’t have many years left to me in which to do so. Gapfiller and allied phenomena are cool and provide relief, but the gaps are pretty damned big and there’s only so much filling.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen,

    The situation in Christchurch makes me so sad. It feels like we (New Zealand) have failed in a fundamental obligation of care to our fellow citizens.

    When the government should have stepped in and made sure everyone got the insurance that they were owed they instead cut a deal. When the government should have helped the local bodies get it right by providing resources and expertise from all over the country and worldwide if necessary it has instead played politics and made Fletchers rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    And there seems so little we can do to make our representatives in parliament just do the right thing.

    Thank you for this Greg, it’s saddening but so important.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • Lilith __,

    Thanks for this Greg, and to Russell for keeping Chch concerns in the public eye on Public Address.

    I've left Chistchurch. I miss it, and the people there, a lot, but the relief of not-being-in-Chch is unbelievable.

    I look around at people on the street here, and they're just getting on with ordinary things. They are cheerful or sad or cranky or however they are, but their faces don't have that tight look I'm so used to seeing on faces in Chch. The falling-apart-just-holding-on look.

    Arohanui to you all.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    ISTM that the first step in botching the "rebuild" is in thinking of it as, and calling it, a "rebuild".
    The business heavyweights who sponsor our political leadership wouldn't like it any other way, so Chch has to have a recreation of the CBD with stronger safety margins, built at the expense of the residents.
    That's instead of focusing on the residents, encouraging a devolved and agile network of local communities, letting industry and businesses emerge from ground level. Brilliant opportunity wasted.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 325 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Lilith __,

    that tight look

    Yes. Tight and tired.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    the government should have stepped in and made sure everyone got the insurance that they were owed....

    Bart see my post over on James's flood piece: that's the next big chapter in this story.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Leanne Curtis,

    Thanks Greg. Such a gentle peace articulating the thoughts of many but without the aggression which is doing its own damage. I would love to publish this in the CanCERN newsletter this week. If you are happy for that to happen please let me know - leanne@cancern.org.nz. If you want to see what the rest of the CanCERN newsletter generally looks like first it's on the website www.cancern.org.nz.

    Waikuku Beach • Since Apr 2014 • 1 posts Report

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Angela Hart,

    Is there anything the luckier rest of us can do to help?

    Vote. And encourage others to vote. Only a change of government can help us.

    Even if they like John Key, they have to see that his government has made too many bad decisions in Christchurch, and they can't change course and save face at the same time. It's what happens to most governments after a major disaster. A new government, regardless of political position, has the freedom to change bad decisions without being afraid of looking weak.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Vote. And encourage others to vote. Only a change of government can help us.

    What he said.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Michelle L,

    What a powerful and honest article - for me who has never experienced this situation, but was originally from Christchurch, it brought me to tears. Tears for the people still trying to pick up pieces, emotionally, physically and materialistic. Trying to have a future of opportunities with families, jobs, education and social activities. Move on, go with your gut feeling - grasp other opportunities and live life. Life is far too short and although any move from home is hard, as the time goes by it becomes home too. Best wishes Cantabarian's, my heart always belongs there, but I am so pleased not to be living in the Christchurch as it is now.

    Australia • Since May 2014 • 1 posts Report

  • David Thompson,

    Christchurch is broken and the people are shattered and for the sake of our own survival we're leaving for good at the end of this year. There is no evidence of any vision, there is no leadership and the only strategy seems to be to react clumsily to each new crisis in isolation.

    I cannot see this changing for a very long time.

    New Zealand • Since May 2014 • 1 posts Report

  • Minnie Ball,

    After one rebuild and four floods, I don't remember what normal is. I have noticed today some neighbour's who are my dearest friends are not speaking to me. They are turning away when I walk by. Why? Because Ive said loudly lately, how much I have to go.... I have to leave. Its not that I want to...I have to...for the sake of my marriage, my mental health, my life. There is no way they or I can sell, so they just wish I would put my head down and clean up again. Because the more noise I make, the harder it will be for them to clean up, move in and to hope that it will all become right. Hope that they will have an investment. I walk around wondering...am I insane...what is happening to me? I try to mop up and just make more mess, so I sit down and stare blankly at the destroyed garden. I almost laugh at my pitiful attempts to tame the s***t. The whole street is in a state of destruction still from the Earthquake and now a slobbery slime from the floods. Every time it rains, my stomach churns so much that I feel my hands perspiring. So I do deep breathing, but can't relax enough, so end up in a kind of 'First- World Eckart- Tolle -Meditative- Hyperventilation.' I know Im not as bad as the Syrians, but I grieve for a calm state of mind. I look on websites that say..."Are you alright? " (funded by the local health board). I ring the 'not alright' helpline. It doesn't help. I go to the two free counselling sessions with a German women, who says instead of arguing with my husband, I could empower him with praise. I drive home, open the door and see that he hasn't pumped out under the house. And then I begin perspiring again. I know Im at the extreme end....the ones who are weak. But strength hasn't got me anywhere. So now I don't care who knows. And as for John Key being sprung by a TV reporter to talk about the Flockton Basin (and blaming it on the Christchurch City Council) well where do I start?. Cera, National Party, Key and Brownlee have failed CHCH. ..they have failed the poor council and they have failed me. Parts of CHCH do function, the North West.. but I have NEVER seen a National MP out East, nor CERA. If I did now, I wouldn't trust myself to talk to them...I am handing my guns in.

    CHCH • Since May 2014 • 7 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Minnie Ball,

    Minnie, I'm so sorry. Sounds like you've coped with astonishing difficulties. Nobody should have to deal with so much crap. :-(

    I hope there will be some way for you to get a fresh start, with heaps of support. Big hugs.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Minnie Ball,

    Oh Minnie: hugs. Many many hugs.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Minnie Ball,

    I have a link for people needing help and succour -- a place near Hamilton that is offering free retreats for people who are stressed as a result of the earthquakes. It sounds wonderful and may be of use to you. I hope so.


    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

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