Hi everyone, Leanne here.

Some of you may have picked up that I am on the Advisory Board on Transition to Long Term Recovery Arrangements which was set up to provide advice to Minister Brownlee about two things:

  1. implications of the expiry of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act on 18 April 2016; and
  2. transfer of functions undertaken by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to more permanent agencies and arrangements.

As a board, we’ve have been meeting regularly since the beginning of the year, and late last month presented our advice to the Minister. You can read it here – First Report to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery. The conversations have been intense at times, well informed by a wide range of perspectives and committed to keeping the local context front and centre. The topics we have been grappling with are far more complex that I ever expected and as always, implementation planning of whatever is decided will be the real make or break of this next phase of recovery.

CERA have also been putting together a Draft Transition Recovery Plan Greater Christchurch Earthquake Recovery: Transition to Regeneration which incorporates much of what we suggested, as well as taking into consideration consultation with central government agencies and CERA’s strategic partners including councils and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

With regard to ensuring the CBD gets moving, there were a couple of key phrases in Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that I hope people grab hold of when considering submissions.

‘…we will work closely with councils and other local stakeholders to progressively pass governance and management of the rebuild to the Canterbury community.’

‘The Earthquake Recovery Minister will work closely with the Mayor, the City Council and officials on how this new organisation will operate.’

‘We will work together to establish its objectives, functions, funding and powers – along with the appointment of a board.’

From what I can see, the biggest ‘step change’ necessary for real confidence and momentum in the CBD rebuild is for open dialogue and shared responsibility to occur between central and local government, so these are good and important statements that now need to be supported and implemented.

But how is what was announced relevant to the residential recovery and the people who for various reasons are still so intimately impacted by the quakes and the resulting aftermath? If you take the time to read the Draft Transition Recovery Plan, important things are happening. If nothing else, the CERA chief executive has acknowledged the reality for the people we are most concerned about and the government has made it two of the five priority areas for monitoring and reporting.

priority areasThe proposal is that the Ministry of Social Development will keep doing what it has been doing and we are confident enough that they have a relatively good handle on the Canterbury context.  They have been here since the beginning and have shown an ongoing commitment to providing relevant support through earthquake specific services:

  • The Ministry of Social Development’s existing residential rebuild-specific work and functions include responsibility for emergency housing, temporary accommodation support and wrap-around support for the most vulnerable, managing the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service and Earthquake Support Coordination Service, and administering Temporary Accommodation Assistance. (Draft Transition Recovery Plan p24)

Councils will pick up the lead responsibility for providing support for community-led recovery activities that focus on community resilience. We’re hoping that means there will be improved engagement in Christchurch with local community groups.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will continue with their existing residential rebuild-specific work and functions. These include, providing technical advice and guidance for the building sector, providing information and advice for residents on the repair and rebuild process, monitoring trends in the design and quality of building work undertaken during the rebuild, providing insight and intelligence on Canterbury’s housing market, and managing temporary accommodation (including the temporary villages and matching/placement service).

Under what is proposed, they also pick up the lead role that CERA has had to date which includes:

  • brokering solutions for emerging residential rebuild issues
  • monitoring the pace and rate of insurance settlements
  • participation in the Residential Advisory Service governance and operational delivery of services.

We have no idea how this will work in reality because MBIE doesn’t have much of a physical presence in Canterbury. We’re concerned they may try to measure the priority of Canterbury issues against an Auckland housing backdrop (in which case we will struggle to feature as a priority). We also have questions about how well they understand  the link between the broken home and the broken family that live in it. A close working relationship and locally led dialogue will be pivotal.

The Ministry of Health will be the lead central government agency responsible for psychosocial recovery and is expected to lead, broker and coordinate across the wider psychosocial recovery sector in greater Christchurch. Again, we have no idea how this will work in practice because government departments by their very nature tend to think and work in silos and a successful psychosocial recovery is about a whole lot more than dealing with the people who end up in the health system. Like I said, broken house, broken families.

It’s important that you give your feedback. The questions are pretty open so you can make of them what you want. Be informed, which means reading the documents available and not just the media commentary. Tell them what concerns you have about where we are at with our recovery, and where it seems to be going. Offer your thoughts on what you need to see to be confident we are moving in the right direction. Offer critical analysis that they can be challenged by and do something with. Ask questions which you believe are unanswered in the draft Plan.

Some great people have waded into this consultation and are providing thoughts and tools to help you put your thoughts together. Rebuild Christchurch’s Deon Swiggs and local broadcaster Chris Lynch have launched the “Have Your Say” campaign urging residents to “stand up and be counted”. For some community driven inspiration, watch their three minute video entitled “Do You Care About Christchurch? Christchurch Transition Plan”.

Another group of community movers and shakers has formed and you can follow their commentary on Facebook here – Follow the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/option3plus. This group is essentially about returning control of the city back to the city. Their description says,

“The recovery of Christchurch will be stronger and smarter if control is returned to the people and communities that make up the city. A movement is growing in support of a comprehensive plan for a sustainable, inclusive and democratic Christchurch – a 21st Century City. Option 3+ is part of that movement.”

Their commentary really highlights gaps in the transition documents which focus so heavily on the future plans for the rebuild and regeneration of the CBD. Obviously they are also advocating for a council-led agency rather than the proposed joined approach.

“Option 3+ emphasises a greater focus on supporting the people who have yet to recover from the quakes, PLUS transparent, democratic decision-making that empowers communities, PLUS sustainable visionary recovery that we as a city can be proud of. Only with a Council-led agency that has the authority, funding and processes to work with communities over all of Christchurch can we co-create the sustainable, inclusive and democratic city we all imagined in Share an Idea.

Option 3+ is the obvious choice to re-empower communities, have an effective Council, and an agile development agency supported by the government. We also need a Community Recovery Plan, a properly funded Canterbury District Health Board and Māori participation.”

This is an important document people and there is only a very limited time to have your say. Apologies for our late commentary – the office has been hit with every cold, cough and flu imaginable!