Aranui, Sumner compared in study

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 08:33 29/01/2013

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Aranui and Sumner responded differently after the earthquakes because of differences in income and employment, a new study shows.

University of Canterbury masters student Sarah Yanicki conducted a study looking at differences and similarities between the eastern suburbs after the 2010 and 2011 quakes.

She said there were similar focuses in the two communities initially as groups aimed to reach the more vulnerable and meet basic needs such as food, clean water and accommodation.

But as needs changed in each suburb, the ways groups operated began to differ.

The differences between lower-income Aranui and wealthy Sumner stemmed from the social disparities between the two suburbs, Yanicki said.

Sumner has among the highest average income, education and employment outcomes in the city, and Aranui some of the lowest.

"Many Aranui organisations remain focused on addressing ongoing social issues stemming from the quakes, while Sumner organisations have turned to how to restore and even improve the suburb with redevelopment plans and interest groups," Yanicki said.

She said the quakes provided a "unique opportunity" for comparing the response in the two suburbs.

Her study was based on interviews with community groups, non-government agencies, churches and residents.

In Aranui, this response largely stemmed from groups that already had a presence in supporting the neighbourhood.

In Sumner, many new groups emerged.

"Despite considerable economic differences, local groups were vital in addressing the needs of local residents in the short and long term," Yanicki said.

"Groups were able to utilise local knowledge and assess local damage to provide swifter local response than government and/or civil defence."

Homes, restaurants, shops, churches and community centres were lost in both suburbs, she said. Sumner also lost its library, museum, surf club and RSA centre.

Statistics New Zealand estimates the percentage of homes in Aranui with severe or serious damage is slightly higher than in Sumner.

In Aranui, many damaged Housing New Zealand properties have remained vacant and unrepaired, with their future unclear, resulting in a loss of social housing in the area.

Door-knocking and street-level presence in Aranui was important in supporting more low-income or socially isolated households that may not have had access to certain resources or known where to go for help.

In Sumner, the formation of a community website became a useful way of making local resources and knowledge more visible, as well as connecting residents to an emerging network of community groups.

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Yanicki will present her findings at a public scholarship presentation on February 8.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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