Mayors moved by red-zone tour

Mayor sees the extent of red-zone damage

Last updated 13:00 28/08/2012
Aldo Miccio
Fairfax Nz

SOBERING: Nelson City Mayor Aldo Miccio and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown get an update on progress in Cathedral Square from Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker

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A "gut-wrenching" tour of earthquake-hit Christchurch has brought some New Zealand mayors to the brink of tears.

Eleven mayors and council chief executives, including Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio and Nelson city's acting chief executive Richard Johnson, toured the central-city red zone and eastern suburbs yesterday to see the recovery efforts.

They are in the city for the Local Government New Zealand metropolitan sector meeting, which started yesterday and continues today.

Mr Miccio said this morning their tour of the damaged city and the empty suburbs was "quite shocking". "It's pretty bad, the area of empty homes is equivalent to the space of three Hagley Parks," he said. "It's sobering."

Christchurch's experience underlined the need to build community resilience in Nelson, he said.

Leadership was needed not only from central Government and local government but also from industry sectors such as engineering. Questions needed to be answered about what were appropriate risk codes to work to, he said.

As the mayors stood outside the scarred face of Christ Church Cathedral, Mayor Bob Parker pointed out all the buildings in the area that were scheduled for demolition. The group was visibly moved by the experience, with several mayors teary-eyed as they walked around Cathedral Square.

Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said it was "gut-wrenching" to see the damage to the cathedral.

She praised the recovery efforts in the city and said officials and residents deserved "a pat on the back" for their work.

"From a local government perspective, I just know how hard it is to do the planning and everything that goes with it, and Christchurch is doing an outstanding job," she said.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there had been a "big change" in the central city since she last visited in July 2011, and she was impressed with the progress. "Obviously there's a huge amount of work going on to respond and recover, but there's a lot of talk about the future, which is heartening," she said.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, making his first visit to the red zone, said the tour was "sobering". "When you're given an idea of the buildings that are yet to come down, and they're clearly substantial, it makes you realise how much work is still left to do."

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- The Nelson Mail

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