Insurance aftershock for potter

02:34, Jan 24 2014
Paul Melser's pottery showroom
SHATTERING EXPERIENCE: Carterton potter Paul Melser's pottery showroom after Monday's 6.2 magnitude earthquake destroyed $8000 worth of his stock.

A potter who lost $8000 worth of stock in Monday's quake has now learnt he will get an insurance payout for his labour time.

But exactly how that is worked out in a fair way remains a mystery.

Paul Melser, of Carterton , Wairarapa, who has supplied dishes to Wellington restaurants Floriditas, Matterhorn and Gypsy Kitchen, found about one-fifth of his stock, conservatively valued at $8000, in smithereens on his showroom floor after Monday's quake.

Paul Melser
PLATE TECTONICS: Paul Melser in his Carterton pottery studio, where he will have to spend long hours replacing the dishes, plates and bowls smashed in Monday's quake.

But when he phoned insurer State's claims assessment line, he was told it could compensate him only for "direct input costs" - in his case clay, gas for firing, and glaze.

He yesterday believed that meant he got nothing for his labour, artistic ability and 50 years' continuous professional experience making domestic ware.

However, after talking to State today it appears he will get paid for labour.


This though is the sticking point.

Mr Melser - who even makes his own clay - believes every dollar on the sale price of a piece represents labour. For example, he sells a mug $15. At a very rough guess a mug would take him an hour to make, including all processes including making the clay, firing the mug, and selling it.

State spokesman Craig Dowling said there had been a misunderstanding and Mr Melser's policy always included covering labour costs - but not profit.

Assessors would work with Mr Melser on establishing a fair pay-out, but it would be difficult, he said.

''In a creative-type endeavour versus a factory where people are paid at a steady hourly rate.

''I can see there will be some difficult discussions to be had.''

Melser has not lodged a claim with the Earthquake Commission (EQC), as it covers residential property rather than businesses. 

The Dominion Post