Paulette's plea gets pleasing action

MYLES HUME
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Paulette Barr
Iain McGregor
TEARFUL: Paulette Barr uses newspapers to try and stop cold draughts through her quake-hit home.

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Paulette Barr says she should not need to confront Prime Minister John Key to get progress and an apology for a more than three-year wrangle with the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

The 61-year-old did not want special treatment, and now wants others facing a similar battle to be dealt with.

A tearful Barr approached Key at Westfield Riccarton on Thursday to demand answers over repairs to her cold, quake-damaged Richmond home.

The flat in the over-60s complex was damaged by liquefaction, and newspaper plugs gaps around external doors and the floor is out of level.

Within hours of the conversation with Key, Barr received a phone call from her body corporate to say EQC had handed the claim to her insurance company and money for the repairs would be paid out soon.

She then received a call from an EQC representative, and was told the call was in response to her talking to Key.

"Suddenly, they will talk to us and people are listening."

Barr said she had been contacted by the offices of Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner and Christchurch East MP Poto Williams.

For the first time since February 2011, Barr felt positive about repairing her home.

"We would still be in the same position if I hadn't come across Mr Key at the mall ... but hopefully this isn't positive just for us, but hopefully for others in a similar situation."

EQC customer and claims general manager Gail Kettle said Barr's payment had been approved for processing since May, and delays came with administrative work during June and July.

The payment would have been approved but "given Paulette's evident distress, we made a decision to accelerate action", she said.

Complex claims like Barr's involving multi-unit buildings were being targeted by EQC "as we move into the home straight".

Labour EQC spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said it should not take a "story on the front page" to prompt EQC into action.

Insurance Council New Zealand spokesman Samson Samasoni said insurers had fully settled 11,400 over-cap claims, with 90 per cent either settled, under construction or resolved with the customer.

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