Potter gets quake payout

TOM HUNT
Last updated 16:19 24/01/2014

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

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

Paul Melser, of Carterton, Wairarapa, has supplied dishes to Wellington restaurants Floriditas, Matterhorn and Gypsy Kitchen.

He found about one-fifth of his stock, conservatively valued at $8000, in smithereens on his showroom floor after 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 believed yesterday that meant he would get 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 his labour.

However, this is the sticking point.

Melser – who makes his own clay – believes every dollar on the sale price of a piece represents labour.

For example, he sells a mug for $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 Melser's policy always included covering labour costs, but not profit.

Assessors would work with Melser to establish a fair payout, 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, as it covers residential property rather than businesses.

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- The Dominion Post

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