Quake gloom worse in Christchurch's east

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 06/09/2012

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The further east in Christchurch you live, the less happy you are likely to be with the Earthquake Commission.

A Press survey of EQC's performance has revealed a distinct geographic bias when it comes to dissatisfaction with the EQC, in line with the belief of many that those in the city's east are suffering more.

Indicative findings show the western wards of Fendalton-Waimairi and Riccarton-Wigram out on their own in terms of satisfaction.

Two thirds - 66 per cent - of Fendalton-Waimairi residents with an EQC property claim were satisfied with the commission's performance; in Riccarton-Wigram that number was lower but still comfortably over half (58 per cent).

Across town, Burwood-Pegasus (42 per cent satisfied) and Hagley-Ferrymead (31 per cent) show the extent of disillusionment in the east. Eastern wards also registered higher negatives: 33 per cent of Burwood-Pegasus claimants were "very" or "extremely" dissatisfied with the commission; in Hagley-Ferrymead that number rose to 50 per cent.

Canterbury Community Earthquake Recovery Network spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said it was always clear east and west Christchurch were going to have different recoveries.

"EQC . . . needed to recognise that the people in the east were going to have a much greater need for constant, clear communication. In the absence of progress they needed to have better contact with people and that hasn't happened.

"[It] should have addressed that right at the beginning. Once-size-fits-all was never going to work in Christchurch."

The results also reveal the extent age has influenced residents' quake recovery.

Generation Y has largely avoided the EQC and insurance wrangles that have consumed many lives over the last two years.

Just 11 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds lodged a property claim with the commission, compared with 77 per cent of 30 to 59-year-olds and 89 per cent of people over 60.

The low percentage suggests those in Generation Y were less likely to be property owners.

Just over half of 30 to 59-year-olds expressed dissatisfaction with EQC's work on their property claim; for the over-60s this dropped to 43 per cent.

Too few 18 to 29-year olds had registered a claim to measure satisfaction.

Higher satisfaction levels among the over-60s was no surprise, Curtis said. "Old people don't complain. They've been tolerant for a much longer time.

"That middle band of people [aged 30 to 59], they have high stress levels. They've got mortgages which some older people don't have [and] they've got work commitments."

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Parklands resident John Patterson, who organises forums for Christchurch elderly to voice concerns about the quake recovery, said a slow recovery concerned many old people.

"At our age you start to realise time is one thing that's not on your side."

Repair timeframes of up to five years were too much, he said.

"Take me. I'm 76. Touch wood, I'm pretty fit. When I talk about five years' time . . . I haven't got a clue what I'm going to be like when I'm 81. I don't know if I'm going to be around.

"You feel you're trapped, you're stuck where you are and you've got no control. The people making the decisions, they don't understand that."

Patterson has organised another forum for the elderly on EQC issues for September 21 at the Parklands Baptist Church.

MORE RESULTS

The Press will continue to publish survey results this week and next. Saturday's edition will look at satisfaction levels based on EQC customers' zoning, claim progress and how much property damage they suffered.

- The Press

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