’All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten’ – (Ray Bradbury)

Dear Members

Ray Bradbury, a retired minister, tells us that ‘holding hands when crossing the street, saying “sorry” when you hurt someone and playing nicely in the sandpit are all basic qualities that will set us in good stead for later in life.

We certainly wish this would get through to our leaders of the earthquake recovery agencies as they still seemingly do not hold hands when working with each other, are not apologizing when they get it wrong (something that is inevitable and will be forgiven in such a complex environment) and at least be seen to get into the same sandpit and play nicely with each other. CanCERN is coming up on its 20th month, has just finished its third reconstruction of its strategic plan and we are still asking for the same things.

1 – Clear, open communication that acknowledges the need for everyone to understand what is happening, why it is happening and work together. This includes the people at the grass roots; us. The residents and business owners that are constantly forced into the stands to act as observers, not players, in a ‘behind closed doors game leaves us totally out in the cold and frustrated to the point of paralysis.

Need an example? – EQC’s Policy position on Curtains and Drapes for people in the Red Zone.

Last week you will remember that we reported that Red Zoners would be paid for their carpets and drapes as long as their house was demolished and not on-sold or reused. Finally, we thought, some clarity as many of us have called the EQC call centre and got conflicting information on this (and still do) or know that some neighbours have been paid for carpets and drapes and others haven’t… but….wait….nope…. we still haven’t got it right…

This story is months long and way past being funny but now what do we get a week later? An email from Reid Stiven stating that what he said in our meeting and the actual policy (Click here to read the Curtains and Drapes Policy position) have “subtle” differences. To us this policy position is very clear and quite different from the statements he made. It is this type of policy position that was needed months ago and this type of clarity that needs to be in the public arena so we can learn and clearly understand what ‘we are’ or ‘are not’ entitled to. Please read it carefully as not everyone in the Red Zone will be paid for carpets and drapes.

2 – A leadership culture that truly understands the word “engagement” and then acts accordingly. A leadership that ensures that the agencies and the residents talk to each other, share information and make decisions in an order that is truly relevant to the big picture and produces a recovery that we all feel a part of.

Need an example. – Asbestos dumping on Parkland’s back door.

When this decision was initially made were the councilors, the community boards and the local resident representatives sitting at the table? If they were would a better decision have been reached sooner? Would there have been a lot of time and human resource saved had this happened?

Why are the lead agencies ignoring the need to work with each other and excluding the residents? Thank goodness the Parkland’s groups stuck to their guns and have helped to overthrow the decision to dump asbestos in the Burwood landfill. Congratulations to all that made this possible.

We are not alone in our frustration as today’s Press article highlights:

Dissatisfaction with the Government’s handling of the Christchurch earthquake appears to be growing, with a survey of more than 2000 Fairfax newspaper readers across the country showing almost two-thirds believe it has not done enough… read more

However, this article is another example of the noise that can be so easily swatted away. It doesn’t say anything and Gerry can argue against it with figures and statistics. The dissatisfaction is not because the recovery is taking a long time – we get that it’s an enormous job and we get that it’s complex. The dissatisfaction is because we don’t have clear communication – we don’t even have a clear understanding of who to actually communicate with. There are some great people trying really hard to make sure engagement is happening with some integrity but despite the encouraging words in the CERA Recovery Plan, we have yet to see a real understanding of what engagement is (two-way dialogue looks very different to being informed after the fact).

The Press article says ‘the government is not doing enough’. Actually it is doing a lot but what is it focusing on?

  1. Can they prove to people that there is not a housing crisis? – show us the plan that tells us where we will live, when we will live there and how we will be able to afford it?
  2. Force the insurers and EQC to form an agreement about consistent assessment and repair methods so that there is less to and fro at the other end
  3. Spell out exactly the implications around land remediation – re-insurers, cost, time frames, infrastructure and resource, ongoing implications – we’re intelligent people and will be less frustrated and prepared to wait for the best solution if we understand what we’re dealing with.
  4. Extend the red zone deadline – no one actually believes that Canterbury is ready to re-house 7256 families in the next 11 months
  5. Extend the Temporary Accommodation Assistance – anyone who tries to tell us that we won’t be paying for mortgage and rent by 16 February 2012 is not facing the realities that we are living.

The ‘not enough’ is about building faith and trust. Sadly that is diminishing day by day.