Stand up People's Republic of Christchurch

WILL HARVIE
Last updated 10:55 30/01/2012

Voting rights of Cantabrians have been trampled in recent years.travis

In 2010, the elected leaders of Environment Canterbury were overthrown by Parliament.

In 2011, the elected leaders of Christchurch City Council lost control of our central business district, first to satan, then to Civil Defence and now to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Something has to control the rebuilding of Christchurch, but that doesn't mean Cantabrians must quietly accept decisions made by these temporary masters.

Let's work with these people where we can, but we must also quibble and quarrel, organise and object, scheme and sue. Gerry Brownlee, Roger Sutton and Tony Marryatt must lose a few arguments to we the people.

Getting half of Marryatt's pay rise back is a good, if symbiolic, start.

But take the future of the residential red zone - those vast hectares of Bexley, Dallington, Horseshoe Lake and so forth that are being abandoned. A group of regular folks calling themselves the Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON) dreams of a ''once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a magnificent ... park in which the wetlands and natural river environments are restored ... a park running the length of the red zone, with river walks, bird sanctuaries, BMX and horse-riding tracks, sports fields, picnic grounds, natural swamps and marshes''.

Sounds fantastic and it will perhaps be a more treasured memorial to the earthquakes than a sculpture somewhere in the central business district.

However, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee doesn't share the vision.

''It's not our intention that it will become a park,'' he said in June.

''We still consider that remediation is a long-term option.''

In other words, the Government will wait for memories to fade, make the land ''habitable'' and sell it for housing.

And you can see his hope. The nation is spending millions buying up this land and wants the money back some day.

There's sort of a precedent: the US Treasury made a profit bailing out Wall Street a few years ago.

There are other examples of Cantabrians wanting things and many of them have Facebook pages: Keep QE2 in the East lobbies for a major sport facility in the eastern suburbs, Save Christchurch Historic Buildings wants what its name says (good luck with that), Rebuild Christchurch facilitates ''the communication of information ... between the residents and businesses of Christchurch and the official agencies in charge of rebuilding the city'' and has almost 14,000 Facebook likes (roughly speaking, members). There are dozens of others.

This bubbling of activism needs a name and one arises from our recent history: The People's Republic of Christchurch.

It was coined in 1998 by Auckland businessman Douglas Myers, who thought it an insult.

But Cantabrians co-opted the phrase (if not its geopolitical or anti-monarchist meanings) and turned it against people from elsewhere who had plans for our city. It was about independence from their grand schemes and upholding democratic values in Christchurch. That's exactly what we need now.

Re-behold the People's Republic of Christchurch! Stand tall o Cantabrians. We must fight for what we want. We must quibble and quarrel, organise and object, scheme and sue. The People's Republic of Christchurch captures the spirit exactly.

See you at the Say No rally at noon on Wednesday February 1 in the Christchurch City Council building, 53 Hereford St.

- The Press

17 comments
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morgan   #1   11:39 am Jan 30 2012

It's a shame to see you perpetuating the myth that the govt are spending taxpayer money on red zone properties. The money they are spending on land, they would have been paying out anyway through EQC claims and the money they are spending on houses will be recouped from the insurance companies. The only difference is that if EQC were paying to repair our land, we would retain ownership of it. The red zone payout fiasco is simply a way of protecting the insurance companies, including EQC, from having to meet their contractual obligations. If only Press reporters could get their head around this and communicate it to the general public then perhaps all the vitriolic comments from out of towners might stop and some real progress might occur.

shjonkey   #2   11:44 am Jan 30 2012

42% of the rattled rabble of the redzone have already gratefully accepted our CERA offers of RV in lieu of their replacement insurance, land insurance and property titles. We commence bulldozing their squalid hovels this week...rejoice!

This generosity from the peasants has saved us billions in what it would have cost us through EQC and our friends the foreign insurers to honour the policies these peasants had, but have kindly surrendered.

What is more, we sold the whole the whole thing as a generous measure from govt. haha.

The extra bonus is we get a nice slice of prime real estate to redevelop in 3-5 years and will be laid out very nicely in gated communities perhaps Keys Mews or Brownlee Estates? That asbestos ridden debris should make excellent hardfill.

Thank you redzoners for your kind surrender of your insurance policies and property titles to maintain our Treasury forecasts and to enable our ongoing program of corporate welfare and sale of strategic assets to our best corporate practice sponsors.

No one noticed how we had for years used EQC as a very useful cash cow, ignored their pleading for us to adjust the cover and premiums due to the property bubble and building costs escalation over the last 10 years, and had them hold their reserves in govt stock, not to mention totally inadequate reinsurance to cover events such as we have had which we always expected...no one seems to have realised or called us to account for this slight oversight.

Gallagher Bassett Ltd (EQCs corporate subbies) are doin real good...ACC subcontract next boys? The peasants are so grateful and easily lead...this is even more fun than merchant banking.

Long rule the Corporatocracy and our progress toward a B

Alan Wilkinson   #3   12:11 pm Jan 30 2012

Will, there is a most important issue for your Republic to resolve - the conflicts between community and individual rights. A people's republic risks an undue shift in rights from the individual to the collective using the state of emergency crisis as an excuse. We have already seen this with Joe Bennett and many other individual property owners being left powerless by the authorities. Without care the Republic may simply play straight into the hands of the centralised authorities you are protesting about.

bert   #4   12:40 pm Jan 30 2012

Morgan #1 Exactly...its been so well spun by CERA, the media haven't realised it yet... It's too late for the 42% of redzoners who have already signed away their insurance and property titles, it could be argued, under duress.

Steve   #5   03:11 pm Jan 30 2012

I still wear my People's Republic of Christchurch tee shirt with pride. Such a pity that the likes of Bob and Tony gained control of the city in recent years. Together with the likes of the Business Round Table and their supporters, the insiders of the city plutocracy have all the cards lined up in their favour.

Apen   #6   03:55 pm Jan 30 2012

Up the Republic!

Lets face it vibrant, effective protests like those against the war in Viet Nam or the Springbok rugby tour are the preserve of the young and not the thousands of property-owning elderly left damaged or looted in Quake City.

The young have little interest in politics, local or otherwise and the intelligent ones are already working in Europe or Australia – anywhere but Christchurch – while those left behind are only interested in when the Oxford Booze Strip will re-open! And those, whose futures will be most impacted by the re-building of Christchurch, will be at school this Wednesday.

Will they laugh at “Gardening In The Red Zone” or, “Fortification Of The Art Gallery/Civil Defence Bunker to protect its inmates from pissed-off central city businessfolks,” "Rebuilding In The East," stories in the future? I doubt it, but having survived the catastrophe, they are going to be much tougher and harder-nosed than the present mob and they are going to need it if they stay in Christchurch.

Janie   #7   07:26 pm Jan 30 2012

Nah, I don't support the 'People's Republic of Christchurch', reminds me too much of Moore's catch cry. Let's move forward not backward.

Ken   #8   09:02 pm Jan 30 2012

No, I won't see you at the 'Say No rally' on Wednesday, I work for a living. I am one of the majority of Christchurch people who have survived the earthquake and decided to stick with it and contribute to a positive future for my self and the city I have lived in for most of my life.

Joining the vocal minority is not part of that positive future for me.

nigel   #9   02:59 pm Jan 31 2012

What rubbish.

The taxpayer is shelling out over $650 million to buy up red zone properties - read the Government financial statements.

The market value of boggy, broken land long that river would be a lot less than the RV.

Insurance doesnt cover unbroken homes.

Dont let the facts in the way of your conspiracy theory.

Jesmond   #10   06:05 pm Jan 31 2012

What is needed in Christchurch is a greater deal of intellectual honesty, which can only be born of knowledge, awareness and information about what is going on in one's immediate community.

Christchurch should consider elevating its vision. It should choose to examine and discard any obsolete behaviors and embrace new challenges ahead.

Christchurch has always been built on an "Old Boys Network" mentality and what Christchurch should not do is keep looking to the same means to address its concerns.

Instead Christchurch should become a place where individuals are rewarded for their creativity and production and not for the school one went to.

It is clear that things have changed in Christchurch and the "Old establishment" is no longer trusted nor applicable.

It is time for Christchurch to invest in its people and businesses and redress its inequalities to establish a new balance. This because a community stagnates without the impulse of the individual and the impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.

The regeneration of people begins one person at a time, slowly gathering force until the few become the many so good luck with the protests tomorrow.

May these work for the greater good of the community.


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