Where There's a Will
Peter Beck announced today he won't seek re-election to Christchurch City Council.
This hardly surprises, given the ''toxic'' disputes that have riven council since the quakes and Beck's essential gentleness.
Although Beck ''found the political infighting hard'', he's got sharper elbows than he admits.
First, he rose to be dean of Christ Church Cathedral, a significant position in the Anglican church in Christchurch.
And he stood up to his boss, Bishop Victoria Matthews, for as long as he could.
It's awkward for a Cantabrian to write about the Government spending taxpayer money bailing out private businesses and citizens.
After all, my province is the recipient of several billion dollars in earthquake bailouts. These include the purchase of about 8000 homes in the residential red zone and the Port Hills, the AMI insurance rescue, called Southern Response, uncounted millions for Christchurch City Council, survival grants for small and medium-sized businesses, a temporary rugby stadium. The list goes on.
Now the Government may have to prop up Solid Energy, which is troubled by $390 million in debt and low coal prices. Some might say that Cantabrians can't argue against bailouts for others when the province has been the recipient of so much. But let's see if these bailouts can be distinguished.
The financial assistance for Canterbury highlights the fundamental decency of New Zealanders. When the province was brought low by natural disasters, the nation responded with vast generosity. Cantabrians understand we owe a moral debt to the rest of the country and will pass that to our children and grandchildren and people not yet living here.
When Wellington is toppled by earthquake, Auckland smothered by volcano and other regions afflicted by massive natural disasters, Cantabrians will repay this debt.
Friends from overseas had to get from Akaroa to my home in Mt Pleasant, Christchurch.
These friends had never been in New Zealand before and relied on the GPS unit that came in their rental car.
Guess which route the GPS (aka sat-nav) recommended?
Over Gebbies Pass, through Governors Bay and the Lyttelton Tunnel? Nope.
Complaints have been raised about the metal, concrete and glass boxes that are replacing many character and heritage buildings in Christchurch.
I think people will come to admire this type of architecture one day, and Christchurch will be seen as a masterpiece of early 21st-century design.
Several hundred new buildings will be erected in central Christchurch over the next 10 to 15 years. By economic necessity, most will incorporate current technologies and systems. Yes, that probably means plenty of steel, glass, concrete and there may be a copper trend.
Before September 2010 Cantabrians got many warnings that a major earthquake was due, hundreds would likely die, liquefaction would be widespread, rock would fall from the Port Hills, and burst pipelines would mean that clean water was scarce and sewage a problem.
And those warning are just the ones found in an easily accessible part of The Press archive, from the years after 2000. There were many other opportunities for Cantabrians to grapple with quake risk, including an education campaign fronted by Peter Elliott.
In hindsight, what's remarkable about these warnings is their accuracy.
''Experts say it is only a matter of time before Christchurch is rocked by a major quake that will leave hundreds dead, thousands injured and reduce parts of the city to rubble,'' stated a October 2005 Press story.
''Critical infrastructure, such as water, sewerage, fuel and gas pipelines, electricity and telecommunications cables, roads, bridges and hospitals, would sustain serious damage,'' it continued.
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