Where There's a Will
Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch, published by the Freerange Press ($45), comprises 55 essays, many of them thoughtful, insightful and dense.
The authors include chief executives, politicians, architects, engineers, publicans, journalists, artists, economists and the like for 512 pages.
Co-editor Barnaby Bennett told a session at the WORD Writers & Readers Festival it was the document the incoming earthquake recovery minister should read before anything else.
The co-editors would probably like that to be someone other than Gerry Brownlee, but there's more heft to this collection than political point-scoring ahead of the election. Bennett and co want a better rebuild.
The Great Christchurch Building Trust launched a public relations campaign last week to convince Kiwis that Christ Church Cathedral is not ruined and can be cheaply repaired.
On Wednesday, Cardboard Cathedral architect Shigeru Ban visits Christchurch to launch a book about the transitional cathedral and speak at the Word book festival.
So it's a good moment to re-visit the cathedral debate.
Ban's visit is his first (I think) since he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, perhaps the world's most important prize for design, in June.
It also reminds that Bishop Victoria Matthews and the Anglican diocese have a building of international architectural significance to their credit and GCBT co-chairmen Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon ... umm ... don't.
The English rugby team will play three tests in New Zealand this month, none of them in Christchurch. Instead, we get a mid-week match between the English B and Crusaders B teams (it could still be great game, I've got tickets in The Lair).
Have we arrived at our future: Christchurch gets fewer test matches and against lesser opponents because we haven't got a good and big enough rugby stadium? It's a good time to reflect on whether that matters.
Should we invest about $300 million in a rectangular, roofed stadium in central Christchurch, as per the Blueprint and the cost sharing agreement, so we get the big matches (and big concerts)? Or should we aim for something more affordable and accept we'll see less of the national squad?
We were already falling behind before the earthquakes.
I have analysed every All Black home match 1999 to 2014 - 16 years - and the pattern is that Auckland gets about two tests a year - 28 in total - and fair enough.
If you believe that the Canterbury rebuild isn't working, then you might think that a different earthquake recovery minister could do better. You might hope that prime minister shuffles his cabinet after the election and replaces Gerry Brownlee with... well who?
The subject of this blog isn't whether National will win the election or whether Brownlee should go, but rather the entirely pragmatic matter of who might replace him. He won't be replaced, after all, if there's not a solid successor.
First let's look at the attributes the job needs:
SENIORITY AND GRAVITAS
The EQ minister has to command respect around the cabinet table and within the National Party caucus. He or she has to win most of the important internal debates and get (or protect) the needed funding. As the senior MP from Canterbury and a senior cabinet minister, Brownlee has seemingly done that. A lesser figure might not.
Before the earthquakes, Christchurch had a functioning and effective cultural precinct.
It included the Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum, the Art Gallery and the Botanic Gardens, all of them west of Durham St/Cambridge Tce.
The 100-day Blueprint of 2012 ignored that cultural collection and proposed a performing arts precinct east of the Avon River. That proposal was seriously wounded by Christchurch City Council's decision to retain and repair Town Hall.
The Canterbury Earthquakes Recovery Authority and CCC should now drop the performing arts precinct altogether, return the cultural precinct to full glory and site whatever new performing arts buildings are needed somewhere between the Town Hall and the hospital.
This proposal will strand the Isaac Theatre Royal, one of the anchors of the proposed performing arts precinct.
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