Cantabrians happier, more positive - poll

SAM SACHDEVA AND JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013

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Despite all we've been through, Cantabrians are still happy with their lot, a new survey has revealed.

Of the 2381 Cantabrians polled in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's (Cera) 2012 wellbeing survey, 74 per cent said their overall quality of life was either good or extremely good.

Only 7 per cent said their life was poor or extremely poor.

Selwyn and Waimakariri residents are happier than their Christchurch neighbours.

Seventy two per cent said they had a good quality of life in the Garden City, lagging behind 84 per cent in Waimakariri and 85 per cent in Selwyn.

More than half (54 per cent) of those polled, however, said the quality of their lives had decreased since the city's earthquakes.

The region's residents are also seeing the difficulties in a positive light.

The ability to cope under difficult circumstances (76 per cent), increased resilience as a family (69 per cent) and a renewed appreciation of life (68 per cent) were the biggest positives that residents have taken from the disaster.

The loss of recreational and cultural facilities was the issue which had affected most residents (69 per cent), ahead of distress connected to ongoing aftershocks (66 per cent) and dealing with the Earthquake Commission or insurers (65 per cent).

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the results reflected a "changing tide" in the city, where people had shaken off a very "tough winter" to embrace the positive things that were happening.

"I think Christchurch is a great place to live right now [and] every day things get better.

"I wouldn't be anywhere else."

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said Cantabrians' resilience should be celebrated. "Despite the ongoing challenges, they are getting on with life and finding innovative ways to improve.

"I applaud them for that," he said.

New projects getting under way, including the Avon River Precinct scheduled to start in April, would also "lift the spirits", Brownlee said.

But Canterbury Communities Earthquake Recovery Network spokeswoman Leanne Curtis said asking about residents' "quality of life" was not the best way to determine how they were dealing with the earthquakes.

"The question itself is incredibly difficult to answer, and there's a lot of ways people can answer it so it may not be a true reflection of how they are."

Canterbury University political science lecturer Bronwyn Hayward said people often rated their wellbeing higher than normal in self-reported answers, due to their desire to "feel confident" and focus on the positive.

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The answers needed to be balanced with actual observations of the conditions people were living in to determine their true wellbeing, Hayward said.

Findings from the second part of the survey will be released later in the year.

Cera intends to conduct surveys every six months until the end of 2014 to monitor progress in the region.

See tomorrow's Press for a special liftout on the new city.

- The Press

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