All posts by Leanne Curtis

Red zoners get to have a say

After a very long time, red zoners have finally been given a chance to share some information about how it was for them. CERA, through research company Neilsen are currently trying to contact all who were red zoned and accepted the offer to invite them to take part in their survey.

Invitations went out via email on 14 October but so far we haven’t heard of too many people who have actually received it. CERA is using their database but email addresses like street addresses have changed over the last four and a half years so we need word of mouth to get the message out there.

CanCERN is pretty annoyed at the promotion approach CERA has chosen to get the survey out which is limited to the use of their database and the hope that a few community leaders still have some old red zone contacts. Considering the massive CERA communications budget and the glossy stories that get delivered into letterboxes monthly, they didn’t feel that spending some of that money to try to get the word out through other channels was worth it.

The survey period is very short and people only have until 15 November to respond to the survey so if you know of someone who would like to know about this, please pass the message on now. If you need a copy you can participate by ringing Neilsen on  0800 400 402.

Lawrence Roberts, ex Avonside red zoner has done a lot of thinking about how why this survey is so important and how some may feel about actually doing it. In his blog Survey of former residential red zone owners who accepted Crown offers, Lawrence writes,

'If you are cautious about taking part in case it resurrects stresses and demons best left buried, Neilsen offer the following advice in the first part of the survey:
We hope that you will find the survey experience positive, but we understand that many former property owners may find the issues it covers difficult and taking part may bring back mixed emotions. If you find this to be the case we encourage you to consider calling the Canterbury Support Line on 0800 777 846 or to contact a trusted friend. You are free to stop the survey at any time.
Should your caution be motivated by cynicism or mistrust you won’t be alone. Never the less give thought to at least looking at the survey. If you don’t have your say, your views won’t be in the mix.'

A few community leaders including Lawrence and CanCERN were invited to attend a workshop as Neilsen was putting the survey together. The advice from all leaders was definitely informed by the experiences of those of us who either worked with red zoners or were red zoned and in many cases, both. Some changes were made but true to the top down recovery we have had to date, some decisions of how the survey has been constructed and the questions asked or not asked have been led very much by the needs of both CERA or researchers. However, there is enough in it to make the survey worth considering and at the moment, it’s as good as it gets. Lawrence explains,

'The survey is structured in an unusual way that may, or may not, fully and accurately capture the issues and experiences of Red Zoners. There are two parts for some participants to fill in, and one for others. Each part has a wide range of questions.  It may be you will find the questions don’t address issues that were, or still are, important. This can be saved up for the final part of the survey where there is (at least in the draft I have seen courtesy of Neilsen and CERA) an open-ended question:
Finally, please add any comments or suggestions you would like to make, particularly any suggestions about what more could be done to help people in the future if their properties are in the worst affected areas following a natural disaster.
Take the opportunity to say what you have to say, there may never be another chance. Were there stresses that the survey overlooks  (e.g. being in the limbo of an Orange zoning, having to relocate while the Ministry of Education was restructuring schools)? Were there services that just weren’t up to it and so you didn’t use them  (e.g. a medical centre or other health service you thought incapable or unwilling to give the help needed?)  Anything else? Mention it now; include the things that worked, as knowing what worked is as important as knowing what failed.'

As per usual the internet has won the day and there is no hard copy option available so if you know of someone who needs access to a computer or support to complete the form, please give them a hand or send them to the In the Know Hub at Eastgate Mall. The wonderful community hosts there can help.

The following is CERA’s release intended for those who haven’t been contacted about the survey:

CERA is conducting a voluntary, confidential online survey of former residential red zone property owners who accepted Crown offers for purchase of their properties. The survey is intended to help the Government, local authorities and communities in responding to any similar situations that might come up in the future. CERA has contacted former property owners (or people who acted on their behalf) directly, but some people’s contact details have changed in the past couple of years. If you’re a former residential red zone property owner who accepted a Crown offer for purchase of your property and haven’t received your invitation to participate, please contact Nielsen, the independent research company carrying out the survey on CERA’s behalf: 0800 400 402.

Home of the Taniwha – The Big Picture (guest post)

Eyes East is a collaboration of three parties – Eastern Vision, CTV and Rebuild Christchurch to inform, educate and engage communities about ideas for the recovery of the east Christchurch flat land suburbs.

In the seventh and final episode of Eyes East which screened on CTV on 5 November, all the community values and aspirations for the flatlands of east Christchurch are viewed as an over-arching integrated whole.  The challenges, future entities, processes and opportunities for the regeneration of the east are explored.  This episode and the rest of the series can be viewed on demand on

Guest post – Evan Smith. View the original on Rebuild Christchurch here.


The red zone lands mean so many different things to so many different people.

Our trauma, our angst, our home.  Our backyard, our neighbourhood.  Our opportunity, safety buffer, hope, sanctuary.

Our vision, our river park.

Our one chance to get it right: our stunning legacy for future generations…

This is no more so than in the eastern flatland suburbs of Christchurch.

Like a slithery Taniwha snaking through the heart of the east, the memory, the emotion, and the promise lie in wait – only occasionally stirring.

But woe betide anyone who seeks to poke it with a stick, or grasp it with both hands and oust it from its place of rest.  The beast can spring into life with a ferocity that could devour the seemingly all-powerful.

We got a faint glimpse of that this week.

“The Government hopes to recoup money from Christchurch’s red zone by leasing or selling land for private sector development,” said an article in The Press on Tuesday.  The Government was considering “options that offered a ‘financial return for the Crown’ for the future use of the land”.

There was an immediate backlash: accusations of government – and council – subterfuge, lies, collusion with insurers and money men.  Loss adjustment!  Land-banking!  Exploitation!  Deceit!

The voluntary offer, which was far from voluntary for most, the ‘fair deal’ that made losers out of many, the lack of first right of refusal, the plight of those who stuck it out and haven’t moved on for whatever reason, the lack of transparency or clear timeframes for decision-making, but above all the erosion of trust and confidence in political and commercial process all erupted abruptly.

“It would break my heart if houses were to ever be built back where our beloved … family home was red-zoned in Dallington…”

“A massive sit-in on any land they try to build on … as they have conned people out of their homes…”

All these sentiments were stirred up when the Taniwha writhed for just a moment.

If there is any hint that anybody, whether public or private, profits – or is perceived to profit  – out of the misery of those who were red-zoned or left behind in the adjacent TC3 zones, then the Taniwha will rise with a vengeance that time will not dull.

Yes, there may be need for new and affordable housing in the east that can help offset costs, but let’s be innovative in how that may be achieved without encroaching again on lands best left alone.

Leave the Taniwha in peace. Let the lands return to what they want to be: a green and blue floodplain space that nurtures and protects the adjoining communities – and the wellbeing of the entire city.

Evan Smith

Ex-Red Zoner


Breakthrough – a really good overview of what we do

Breakthrough is a free service we run with Southern Response customers whose claims are not making the kind of progress they need. There are a whole raft of reasons why progress can be slow but with some additional support many homeowners are able to progress in a way that leaves them feeling more confident.

It’s a facilitation service rather than an advocacy service. We don’t negotiate for a specific claim outcome because we’re not lawyers, quantity surveyors or engineers. We are, however, able to facilitate a constructive discussion where homeowners can have the conversation they need to have with the right people at Southern Response. There is one collective aim – to understand where the claim is at from the homeowner’s perspective and what needs to happen for the claim to progress to the next stage.

Who can it help?

Absolutely anyone who is a Southern Response customer. Because Breakthrough is about trying to get things progressing where they have slowed down you can be anywhere in the process from having a first site meeting to being in the midst of repairs or a rebuild. Breakthrough has helped homeowners who:

  • thought the only option left was to head to court,
  • had stopped talking to Southern Response,
  • thought they should wait for others to get through first,
  • had just gone over cap after a long wait with EQC

How does it work?

There are a few ways to get involved:

  • You reach out to us – Anyone who is a Southern Response customer can give us a call and ask us to facilitate a discussion.
  • We reach out to you – Southern Response has asked us to contact customers whose claims are progressing slower than they expected, so we may phone or email you.
  • You are referred – Another earthquake support service or your claims specialist may refer you if they think we can be of help.

This meeting is about us listening to you. Through listening, we can help you figure out what you really want to say, where you think you are stuck, and how you think progress can be made. This meeting normally takes an hour or two and happens in a place where you are comfortable.

We write up notes based on our conversation which also form the agenda for the facilitated meeting with Southern Response. You check they are accurate and make any changes you want to. If you want to go ahead with a facilitated meeting we ask you to sign a consent form so that we can send the notes off to the Southern Response manager we think is best to help with your claim. Click here to see what the ‘homeowner meeting’ notes look like.

Once Southern Response have read the notes we give them a week to gather everything they need to make sure they can answer your questions and address your concerns. Before the facilitated meeting we check the staff are ready and let you know that everything is on track for a productive meeting.

We have this meeting where you feel most comfortable, e.g. the CanCERN office, your home, or another neutral meeting space. We work hard to set the right tone and reinforce that the meeting is led by the homeowner’s needs. Sometimes people are really nervous about the meeting and expect it to be a battle but most walk out feeling like it was one of the best meetings they’ve had in the last five years.

At the end of every facilitated meeting we write up another set of notes that include what actions were agreed to, who is responsible to ensure they happen, and how long they will take to be completed. Click here to see what the ‘facilitated meeting’ notes look like.

Part of our role is to check up and make sure everyone is on track to complete actions on time. If there are delays, we figure out why they have occurred and make sure everything is communicated back to homeowner. Further down the track if you need Breakthrough again, we will help.

What does it cost?

Breakthrough is completely free for the homeowner. Southern Response is independently contracting us to run the service. This type of independent contract is fairly standard for facilitation industry-wide. You could liken it to the way Southern Response sometimes pays for the cost of an independent quantity surveyor’s report, for example.

What now?

Email, call or text CanCERN’s Breakthrough Project Manager:

Marcus Irvine
027 304 8092

From CERA to beyond – Transition Recovery Plan

Hi everyone, Leanne here.

Yesterday the Minister released the Transition Recovery Plan. This outlines how Central Government will transition roles and responsibilities for long-term arrangements as the focus moves largely from recovery to regeneration. It also confirms decisions about new legislation which is considered necessary to support recovery and regeneration over the next five years.

If you would like to see how your feedback on the Draft Transition Recovery Plan had an impact on this version, read the Summary of submissions to Draft Transition Plan.

If you’re looking for acknowledgement that not everyone is beyond the recovery stage, you will only see it in small nods. This is a relatively upbeat document and it’s focused far more on the central city regeneration and how overall leadership will transition from Central Government to Local Government over time. That said, neither Central nor Local Government are under any illusion as to the reality of broken homes, roads, and people. The Advisory Board has made sure that focus remains front and centre and we are expecting inheriting agencies to be able to articulate clearly their role in the provision of support for people still struggling. If you want to understand who will be responsible for ensuring homes and people are repaired, look to Appendix 1: New central government arrangements.

Regenerate Christchurch is the new lead entity and it’s purpose is to ‘support a vibrant, thriving Christchurch with economic, social and lifestyle opportunities for residents, businesses, visitors, investors and developers’. It is not the group that will focus on what is left of the residential rebuild and insurance issues nor the more specific social issues which come about after a protracted disaster recovery. MBIE and MoH have been charged with that role and there is as yet very little visibility of what that really looks like.

Regenerate Christchurch is however the entity which will try to speed up momentum in the CBD rebuild and will be responsible for the future Red Zone engagement in Christchurch. The Crown and CCC have collaborated in the design of this entity and the idea is that over the next five years there will be less and less Crown influence. The Mayor is pretty happy with this approach so we need to trust that she has addressed previous issues in the set up of Regenerate Christchurch.

People will still question though, “is Regenerate Christchurch just CERA in drag? CCDU in drag? Is the Minister still calling all the shots?” In my honest opinion which has been largely informed through my role on the Advisory Board, I believe not. I’m not staking my life on it because let’s face it, when push comes to shove the Crown always has the biggest stick. However, I am confident of a few things:

  1. The Crown actually wants out of the driving seat. They have to stay to ensure their ongoing financial investment is looked after but they certainly don’t want to be creating new roles for themselves.
  2. The dialogue between Minister Brownlee, Mayor Lianne Dalziel, and Chief Executives John Ombler and Karleen Edwards has improved and is focused. Open dialogue leads to all kinds of great planning and accountability and we are already reaping the rewards of this new way of working.
  3. The Crown actually don’t like to use the special powers but local authorities are very clear where momentum will be challenged if we do not have the ability to resolve extraordinary issues related to recovery and regeneration. We in the community have also identified long standing and unresolved issues which could be best addressed by the careful use of legislation.
  4. There has been a massive process shift in terms of who can instigate Regeneration Plans and the role the Minister has which essentially means that if the local authorities commit to meaningful community engagement, we are in a better position to lead local decisions.

The things that make me nervous and which are not well articulated in this Plan are the following:

  1. Future Use Residential Red Zone decisions. Like the way CERA has done it or not, there are some key people in CERA who understand that the Red Zone is as much a part of our social recovery and wellbeing as it is a Crown asset. To lose this thinking at this stage is a frightening concept.
  2.  The Plan doesn’t give any real indication what MoH and MBIE have actually been asked to do in terms of leading the residential and psychosocial recovery. MBIE don’t have a very visible local role and MoH have not been here in a leadership role as MSD has taken on the role. Uncertainty is uncomfortable and those who work in this space are feeling a little anxious.
  3. The section on DPMC’s monitoring and reporting also leaves me a little cold. Although it’s good to see that there will be some coordination of this, nothing in what is written demonstrates a greater commitment to the monitoring being used for anything more than reporting. Where’s the commitment to using the data to identify and resolve issues? CERA has monitored and reported on residential insurance progress stats for a long time. That doesn’t mean better progress has been made.

Next steps in moving from CERA to beyond are mostly legislative now. Select Committee submissions on the new legislation will be called for and it is likely to be a very short time frame with which to submit. Christmas is fast approaching and everything needs to be passed through Government and ready to go by April 2016.

A final personal opinion; the direction I believe is the right one. The Crown will see through the commitment to support this recovery but will move more and more out of the leadership role so that the local leadership can step up. Collaboration and leadership are the key focuses and we haven’t had enough of either to date so we are well overdue for a step-change in that area. The residential recovery has mostly taken a ‘leave it to market’ approach. We haven’t agreed that this was the right approach and we can only hope that a more specific solutions focus will be applied to what’s left. The community sector is strong and passionate about supporting the social wellbeing of Cantabrians so as long as they are in turn well supported, they will lead the way. The future use of the Red Zone is a nail-biting ‘wait and see’ area and we can only strenuously advocate that the powers that be remember the people.

In the Know Hub seminar videos

In the Know Hub is still running seminars and recording them for those who can’t make the sessions. The topics are diverse and the feedback from those who attend is that the seminars and question time after are helpful. If you have suggestions for seminar topics please let us know.

If you haven’t caught up with recent seminar uploads, check them out here.

If you’ve got free time next Thursday 22 October, head to the Hub at Eastgate to find out more about Deed of Assignment – a legal perspective on the implications of these contracts. Sessions are 1pm-2pm and repeated at 6pm-7pm.

This seminar will cover:

  • What a basic Deed of Assignment is
  • How they are used in relation to earthquake claims
  • What homeowners should consider before they sign a deed

Presenter: John Goddard, independent  solicitor


In The Know Hub – what seminars do we need?

The In the Know Hub is still bringing in people looking for help as they try to settle claims and get back in homes. Based on the numbers of people who are being helped, the decision has been made to keep the Hub going beyond the end of August. This is great news because now we can look to improve on and expand what is currently being offered to ensure we are providing the best kind of support to residents. From CanCERN’s perspective, there is still some way to go before we are truly confident the Hub is delivering everything it needs to in the best way, but the commitment to extending the Hub’s existence is the right time to make changes.

Keeping the resident-centric theme on the table, we would like some advice from you about helpful seminar topics. The Hub runs weekly seminars twice on Thursdays which are generally well attended and have an even better video following on the In The Know website. We want these seminars to be practically useful, so please tell us what you think people most need to hear about to make life a little clearer, and who is it you believe you need to hear from?

Topics so far have included the following:

  • IAG Processes during or after repairs
  • Understanding Southern Response processes during repair
  • MBIE Technical Guidance – Principles Explained
  • Foundations Repair vs Replacement
  • Multi-unit buildings: Navigating your way through earthquake claims
  • Coastal Hazards Thinking Long Term
  • Flood risk and mitigation options
  • How the Earthquake Commission (EQC) scopes earthquake damage
  • EQC Land Claims and Increased Flooding Vulnerability (IFV)
  • Increased Flooding Vulnerability (IFV) seminar
  • Cash Settlement 3: Rebuild with Confidence – how to manage your home rebuild
  • Cash settlements, what are my options seminar
  • Understanding your cash settlement offer

We appreciate your input so please either use the comment section below this post or email Marcus at

On a related note, below are the videos from the latest seminar about cash settlement. For more, visit

Red zoners waiting a little longer

This week CERA put out a media release (below) stating there would be a delay to the announcement of Chief Executive John Ombler’s proposals for buying vacant, commercial and uninsured properties in the residential red zone.

Our opinion – this is rubbish. If CERA does not yet have enough of an idea of the level of community interest in this topic to ensure they have the necessary resources to process submissions on time then they have failed people once again. Is this stupidity or cruelty?

Media Release – 26 May 2015 - Deadline for Publication of Draft Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan Extended 

The deadline for the Chief Executive of CERA to make public his proposals on Crown offers to buy vacant, commercial and uninsured improved properties in the residential red zones has been extended.

“I know news of this delay is going to be disappointing for people waiting for a decision,” says CERA Acting Chief Executive, John Ombler.

“More than 800 submissions were received, coupled with their complexity means I need more time to consider all the issues and give due consideration to the public’s feedback.”

“This means I am unable to provide the public, and the Minister, with the Draft Residential Red Zone Offer Recovery Plan in the timeframes I had hoped.”

The Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery is expected to make his decision on the Chief Executive’s Draft Recovery Plan by 31 July 2015.

“I remain committed to streamlining this process so that affected property owners will know the outcome as soon as possible.  We are working hard to get the draft recovery plan out soon and providing sufficient time for everyone to provide comment,” Mr Ombler says.

ILV & IFV settlement timeframes

Here’s the latest update:

EQC expects to settle all claims for Increased Flooding Vulnerability by late this year or early next year. If they are able to settle claims at full capacity (about 300 per week), they project they could have all but the most complex claims resolved before Christmas.

Claims for Increased Liquefaction Vulnerability will start to be settled once the ILV policy is finalised. This is expected to occur in July. This means ILV claim settlement is likely to continue during 2016.

Claims for land where there is no potential for ILV or IFV will be settled soon. Other visible land damage claims will be settled once it is confirmed whether or not properties are eligible for IFV and/or ILV.

Disputing to a deadline

If you still haven’t reached settlement stage with EQC, no doubt you are following the announcement that after 1 June, no more customers will be accepted in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP) unless there’s prior agreement with EQR or EQC. EQC are encouraging people to make contact with them or EQR to let them know if they still want to be part of CHRP.

We don’t have a problem with the concept of a deadline on the basis that they need to know the numbers to resource. What we do have a problem with is what it appears to mean for people who are disputing their EQR scope or repair methodology.

We have raised our concern with EQC because a cynical person could interpret the messaging (below) as implying that EQC can hold out on trying to resolve those cases until after 1 June which effectively stops the option of having a CHRP managed repair. It’s one thing to say, ‘call us’ but it’s another thing to get EQC and EQR to act on the phone call.

From that date (1 June), both the customer and EQC should be clear about how the customer’s claim will be settled. Customers still in dispute can continue talking to EQC but settlement will not be as part of CHRP. Settlement will depend on their individual claim circumstances …

“The deadline does not signal the closure of the programme and repairs will continue for as long as needed to complete those we are committed to.


Our messaging to EQC is clear and consistent:

a) People should not be cash settled because EQC wants out of here. They have told us that they stand by their commitment not to cash settle solely for the purpose of packing up shop.

b) It’s not the residents’ issue if they have not reached a place where they can confidently put up their hand for a managed repair if EQC and/or EQR fail to address their concerns before the 1 June deadline. It’s EQC’s issue and therefore they should wear the consequences.

c) There are now ample opportunities for residents to get support with their questions and concerns regarding their EQC/EQR situation (EQC Customer Contact Team, Earthquake Support Coordinators, RAS, CIAS, In the Know Hub, etc). However, if the escalation process fails after that step, EQC has to fix the bit that is broken.

Things are able to change now that the EQR contract is finished and EQC assures us they are doing some things differently to try to get people to resolution. That’s encouraging but even CanCERN has a few trust scars, so we are looking to work pretty closely with EQC on this issue.

In the meantime, if you are concerned please go to the In the Know Hub where there are multiple channels that can help.