Posts Tagged ‘christchurch earthquake’

Amazing events this last month!!!

19 February 2013 5 comments

Three amazing events that’ve taken place this last months, and which serves to remind us how unpredictable and weird the Universe can really be…



Richard III’s skeleton discovered!


The grave of Richard III was discovered on 4 February, under a carpark in Leicester (fitting, being the 21st Century), and caused a worldwide sensation as this 528 year old King was prominent in British history as well as the subject of a play by William Shakespeare…


Richard III king's face recreated from skull discovered under car park




Meteor shower over Russia!

Straight out of a science fiction movie, a huge meteor entered the atmosphere and exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, three days ago. Luckily, it exploded into fragments high up in the atmosphere.

Had it impacted the ground intact, the devastation and loss of life would’ve been far more severe.

It was a small taste of what our dino cuzzies must’ve experienced, 65 million years ago…


Russian meteor fragments 'discovered at lake'




Hekia Parata fronts on Campbell Live – Sceptics Society shocked!


campbell live - hekia parata - christchurch schools -  18 february 2013



Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either…

After sending her ‘flunkies’ (see previous blogopost:  Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?) to front for her and take media heat for Christchurch schools closures, the Novopay debacle, and other foul-ups – Education Minister, Hekia Parata finally fronted for an interview with TV3’s John Campbell.

The media training that Parata has been given seems to have worked. Her demented grin…


hekia parata - 30 september 2012 - Q+A


hekia parata - 30 september 2012 - TVNZ Q+A


– was gone.

Meanwhile, in ‘quake ravaged Christchurch, where increased stress is causing children to have nightmares and instances of bedwetting has skyrocketed (see:  Quakes traumatise kids), Parata has decided not to close or amalgamate 31 schools.

She’s only going to close/amalgamate 13 schools (see:  Minister announces fate of Canterbury schools).

Well, that’s that’s f*****g big of her, isn’t it?!

Why not further gut the heart out of a community that has lost 185 of it’s people to a violent,  natural disaster; thousands of homes damages or destroyed; businesses closed; insurance companies and EQC dicking people around; and entire neighbourhoods written off.

In case anyone needed proof that National has no heart, well, look no further.

And for all you National supporters out there who don’t give a rats because it hasn’t happened to you… well, Karma is working over-time at present.

Your turn will come.

To the people of Christchurch, and for those shocked by today’s announcements, I just want to say that a whole lot of your fellow New Zealanders are with you, in spirit at least. I just hope there’s a change of government before Parata can implement her rotten-to-the-core, penny-pinching, policies.



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Guest Author: Stop me if you’ve already heard this one

– Rob, The Standard blog

21 May 2011


Time for a bit of in depth analysis of some of the key phrases in Bill English’s budget speech:

This Budget restricts the increase in public debt to manageable levels. Treasury’s December forecasts showed a dramatic and indefinite rise in debt levels. This is unacceptable to this Government because we do not want to saddle future generations with the cost of short term policies.

We will initiate a programme to lift productivity, improve competitiveness and sharpen New Zealand’s future economic performance.

We will consolidate the Government’s fiscal position, keep debt under control and ensure that Crown finances are properly managed.

This Government came into office with a plan to lift New Zealand’s economic performance.

I move on to our plan to balance the Government’s books. … This Budget will begin to restore the Crown balance sheet to its previous health.

The measures I have outlined will form key elements of our strategy to ensure that New Zealand emerges from the downturn stronger than it entered it.

The Government is determined that future taxpayers will not be burdened with higher debt which is unmatched by increases in productive assets.

To achieve this, the Government has made some difficult decisions.

The measures outlined this afternoon, the expenditure restraint shown by this Government, deferment of the tax cuts and deferment of Super Fund contributions, will keep the increase in public debt within acceptable levels. …

[This Budget] marks a turning point for New Zealand. Ten years of economic growth and expansive appetites for debt and Government spending have ended. Today we have outlined the challenge to rebalance the economy from debt and consumption to investment and exports.

The Budget will improve New Zealand’s international competitiveness.

It will get our debt under control and turning down.

It starts to create a government sector that provides better services and delivers better value for taxpayers.

It will help create new and sustainable jobs.

It will begin to build a platform for a much more ambitious New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.

Ooops – Dammit! Sorry, my mistake. Wrong speech. That’s the budget speech from 2009. This is the one I meant:

The worst of the global crisis has for now passed and the economy has begun to grow again. In fact, New Zealand has weathered the economic storm better than many other developed economies.

Government policy struck the right balance between blunting the sharp edges of recession and maintaining control of public finances.

The Government is committed to policies that will reduce our vulnerabilities by tilting our economy away from debt and consumption toward savings, investment and exports.

These policies underpin the updated Treasury forecasts showing steady growth of around 3 per cent over each of the next four years.

The forecasts also show that this growth will raise real incomes of the average household by about $7,000 over the next four years, and create 170,000 jobs.

I now turn to the Government’s fourth objective, that of maintaining firm control of the government’s finances, so we can return the budget to surplus and reduce our rising debt.

The fiscal outlook has improved from last year, due to the economy returning to growth and the positive impact of Budget 2009 decisions.

The projected operating deficit for the next financial year is $8.6 billion or 4.2 per cent of GDP.

It is projected to improve steadily in each subsequent year, and to reach surplus in 2015/16, three years ahead of last year’s projection.

As a result of this improved outlook the debt projections have also become more favourable

We now have our debt under control and unemployment is beginning to fall.

We will emerge as one of the countries that other nations aspire to be more like.

There are risks to the recovery. A mountain of debt hangs over a number of our export destinations, and will also influence the markets that lend to New Zealand.

We cannot take for granted the contribution that the Australian and Chinese economies have made to our growth.

However, we are on track to a position most developed economies will envy.

This includes more new jobs, falling unemployment, rising family incomes,
quality public services and sound public finances.

Mr Speaker, This Budget continues to build a platform for a much more ambitious New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.

Oh My. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me today. That’s the wrong speech again! That was the 2010 speech. This is the 2011 speech. Really this time:

Today I introduce a Budget that will further strengthen the long-term performance of the economy.

It supports economic forecasts that show growth returning to its highest in over five years and 170,000 net new jobs being created by 2015.

Our main task remains to return New Zealand to sustained prosperity. The economy has been underperforming since before the global financial crisis. Indeed, per capita GDP has not grown since 2004.

The OECD, the Savings Working Group and others have pointed out that we need to make the economy more competitive and lift national savings.

Currently, most businesses and households have successfully lifted their own savings. While that has hurt retailers for now, in the long term it is a good thing.

The main sector not saving is the Government.

The deficit in 2010/11 will be large, at $16.7 billion or 8.4 per cent of GDP. This includes a range of one-off costs, including the earthquakes.

The measures announced in this Budget will put both the Government’s finances and the economy on a much sounder footing despite a series of adverse events and a slower economic recovery.

The projected operating deficit will fall dramatically over the next three years. It will be in significant surplus from 2014/15.

This is a year sooner than the position forecast last year.

Budget 2011 shows how, from the depths of the global financial crisis when a decade of red ink was in prospect, and despite the devastating Canterbury earthquakes and other setbacks, the Government has laid the basis for future prosperity.

It is within sight of budget surpluses and falling public debt.

It has funded reconstruction of Christchurch, our second largest city.

It has in prospect the strongest growth for a decade.

It has materially improved the tax system.

It has placed KiwiSaver onto a sounder, more sustainable footing, and instilled a culture built on savings rather than debt.

And it will provide future New Zealanders with real choices about further lowering taxes, adding quality public services, or both.

We set a path for responsible government spending from the start of our term, and we maintain that path in this Budget.

This Budget continues to build a platform for a much stronger, more ambitious New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.

Sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it. Right down to the recycled prediction of 170,000 new jobs. Why are the promises and predictions of 2011 any more realistic or believable than the failed promises and predictions of 2010 and 2009? How can anyone listen to Bill English, John Key and the Nats making these abundantly meaningless claims time after time without laughing? Know what they say eh. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…







Reprinted with kind permission by Lprent, The Standard



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Interview: Angie, the Earthquake Angel

7 January 2012 4 comments



Shortly after the December 23 earthquake that rocked Christchurch, Wellington woman Angie – a 37 year old civil servant on her Christmas break – did something quite extraordinary that few of us would consider doing. A couple of days after the massive 5.8 and 6.00 magnitude ‘quakes, Angie arrived at a decision: she  was going to Christchurch to help.

I wanted to go down to help with the physical clean up“,  she said, as we chatted over some Bavarian cheesecake at our home north of Wellington, “I had felt guilty about not being able to go down after the February quake when they were originally calling for volunteers.

I should take a moment to describe Angie; she is a vivacious woman; much younger looking than her actual age; with an easy-going personality; and smiles easily. She also has a character that can best be summed up as head-strong and determined.  When she arrives at a decision, she doesn’t back away.

So she packed a small backpack and headed south. Once in Christchurch, she headed to Hammer Hardware where she invested in a brand-new shovel. Cost: $40. Sense of community spirit: priceless.

She then hooked up with the Student Volunteer Army, and got stuck in, shovelling dried (and occassionally still wet and heavy) liquefaction from the back yards of elderly people, and in one case, a one-armed resident.

The “drill” was simple; arrive at an allocated property; get stuck in in; shovel a tonne or two of liquefaction into wheel barrows; take out to the street; dump. Trucks would pick up the mounds of grey sand-silt at some later stage.

Angie says that the collected waste is being trucked to Bottle Lake Forest Park, where 500,000 tonnes of silt and eight million tonnes of rubble are awaiting recycling.   She wonders if there is any end to it.

Angie describes the people she has met; her fellow Student Volunteer Army colleagues; and smirks when she describes meeting Christchurch mayor, Bob Party and his wife, at a RIP Party at a Parklands Park. RIP, she explains, stands for “Red In Parklands”.

The street party was part of a local campaign to get their area “Red Zoned”. Many wore caps with “RIP” emblazoned on them.

So many people, explains Angie, “are sick of it all; angry; and have had enough“. She adds,

If I had any close people to me, down there, I’d be getting them out.”

A little later, she gives us a slide-show presentation. The images are disturbing and give us a better insight into just how badly damaged Christchurch really is.

In all, Angie spent three days, shovelling, and working with the SVA. There is a hint of skepticism in her voice, as she described Parker at the Parklands street party,

He thanked us for helping which was nice… but I’d have preferred him to come out shoveling with us.  People see him 50/50 – some like him, some don’t.”

She was also disdainful that the Student Volunteer Army seemed to be bearing some of the costs themselves. From what she saw, they covered their own petrol and cellphone costs, and these would add up substantially with the sheer volume of jobs.  She thought they could really do with assistance for these costs.

At the same time, she had heard that tradesmen were being charged out at $150 an hour, by the main contracting companies.

Angie then added that the ANZ and ASB had contributed by way of wheelbarrows and tools, and that ASB staff in particular were out, in the community helping to dig out and remove liquefaction. She showed us images of ASB staff, in their bright yellow t-shirts, shovelling liquefaction from an elderly woman’s back yard and garden.

It was the fourth time the woman’s yard had been covered in this horrible, ubiquitous grey silt, and her vege garden had suffered  the worse for it. The woman had been very appreciative of  Angie and others turning up to help clean up the mess, and had said,

I can’t pay you , I haven’t got any money. But help yourselves to as much rhubarb from the garden as you like.”

At another property which Angie helped to clean, she excused herself to go use the portaloo that was located some distance from the house she was working at. Mrs Miller (80)  replies,

Oh no! Use my toilet. It flushes!”

Angie says that the woman was quite proud when she said that.

At another house, which was on a distinct tilt, Angie was advised that even cakes came out lop-sided from the oven.

Many streets in Christchurch were deserted, said Angie. Entire neighbourhoods were gone, and properties were being over-run with weeds, with  windows boarded up. But it was the unnatural silence in these streets that she found most unnerving.

Having seen photos of the streets she described, they remind me of post-apocalyptic movies such as “The Omega Man” and “The Quiet Earth“.

One particular point that Angie was quite emphatic about; despite being weary of the constant shaking of the ground beneath their feet and the destruction around them, none of the Cantabrians she spoke to felt sorry for themselves. Instead, a common  response was that there was someone else worse off than themselves. Their humour was very much in evidence.

Angie felt that they were trying to be strong for their children. The elderly, she believed, were the worst affected,

The young can leave and go somewhere else. The elderly can’t go anywhere.

Although in one case, we saw an image of a deserted retirement home. Derelict  buildings. Cracked paths. Weeds everywhere. More post-apocalyptic visions we never expected; in our country; during our lifetime.

She has watched the docu-movie, “When a City Falls“, and recommends it as being truthful and honest in it’s portrayal of what she herself experienced.

Before Angie left Christchurch, she donated her  well-used shovel to the Student Volunteer Army. The SVA co-ordinator wrote her name on it, and said “you can have it again when you come back.”

Angie is now back in Wellington and ready to begin work again on Monday. Her experience in Christchurch has taken a toll on her, and she obviously feels greatly for the folk of that city.

When I asked her how she was feeling, she replied,

It was a lot of work. I wonder if it was worth it. For them it’s the fourth time they’ve gone through all this. I wonder why they aren’t feeling more angry, more sorry for themselves.”

Maybe they can’t afford to“, I replied.

Angie then asked us if we felt the December 3 earthquake, in Wellington. I replied that we hadn’t; we had been on the road, driving, and couldn’t feel the shaking.

Angie said she had been at a sports stadium in Wellington that evening, attending a women’s roller derby event. When the quake hit, the Wellington audience rushed for the doors, in a desperate hurry to leave the building.

At the same time, the Christchurch roller derby team came flying out of their changing rooms. They had smiles on their faces, and skated around the ring, unconcerned.

I guess they weren’t going to let a little shaking ruin their evening.




A Photographic Journal of Angie’s Christchurch Experience

(Captioned by Angie)


How often do you get to meet one of your favourite NZ artists??? As chance would have it, I just about walked straight into Peter Donnelly as soon as I arrived in New Brighton! Really lovely guy and interesting character. Sadly, he has lost a lot of his creative ability since February's quake so can't work on canvas... but he still gets out to share his beautiful creations down at the New Brighton Pier. To see something beautiful which will make your day, go to YouTube and type in "Sand Dancer". WOW!!! I'm still buzzing that I got to meet him!


Here's one-armed Micky. We helped dig out his liquefaction and he showed me his faces he made in the silt mound. Despite having one arm he could use a shovel as good as we could. All he could say was how lucky he was because his house was still standing, and he no longer has to weed his garden!


This man is called "Dem". He's a Seismic Geologist/ex Army/Engineer, and is one of the founders of the Student Volunteer Army. His knowledge and experience is incredible, and he is one of the few people in Christchurch getting out and actually helping the people - FOR FREE. If you live in the worst hit suburbs, chances are he came knocking on your door to see if you were okay and then arranged volunteers to clean up your section. I want him to run for Mayor, as I believe he is Christchurch's most valuable asset.


This was the backyard of a 90 year old couple in baker street. The silt was about 2 feet deep. 15 volunteers, 15 shovels, 8 wheelbarrows, 3 hours of hard yakka and much humour and nek minnit...


Nek minnit they have their path back!


You work all day shoveling the silt out, then another quake brings it all back again. This pic shows a small sinkhole... You gotta hope that your house isn't built on top of one.


80 year old Mrs Miller's house which the volunteers worked on. She described Gerry Brownlee as "a fat white slug". I was outside about to use the street portaloo, when she said "Oh come in and use mine dear - it flushes!" beaming with pride, as if she was the first in the street to get television. Her sweetness just about shattered our hearts, and I hate to think this is how she and countless other elderly in the eastern suburbs are going to spend the rest of their days.


Because her whole house is now sloping, no cupboards or doors can shut properly. She is living here on her own in a deserted street. Everyone else has left.


This was the home of Steph and her husband, who had polio, so we helped them shift this giant mound of silt out onto the street. They needed it moved so they could shift out their furniture as they are off to live in Rolleston. Another abandoned house in a deserted street.


It's like Chernobyl out here in the forgotten eastern suburbs. Everyone has abandoned their homes. Desolate streets wherever you look and the silence is deafening.


At least they still have their humour!


Look at their garage door! That's because the whole house has sunk into the ground.


Look closely at the vertical blinds... They are hanging straight. It's the rest of the house which has sunk...


Their house is completely stuffed and had been red zoned. Very unsettling... I couldn't wait to get out. They spoke about baking a lopsided cake in their lopsided oven because of their lopsided floor! They are a lovely older couple whose children have moved out, but they have adopted a guy with Down Syndrome called Bruce. When I walked in, Bruce showed me out the back window... the silt was at least 3 feet deep and the worst I'd seen.


This was outside Bruce's window. This liquefaction covers the whole of the yard.


Inside Bruce's house. Remember - gravity means that those hanging vertical blinds are true vertical. It's the rest of the house which is on an angle. You could roll a tennis ball from one end of the floor to the other! It was like being at Wanaka Puzzleworld.


This is the only available toilet in the neighbourhood. Imagine having to get up in the middle of the night, walk half a block down the road just to get to use this crappy Portaloo.


Look at the tilt this house is on. It has been red-zoned, but I think they are still living there.



Look at the guttering line. This house is completely on the piss!


You never feel safe going to the shops when they have to be propped up like this.


Says it all really!


These lovely people came over from Rangiora with a 4-wheel drive and a trailer to help shift the silt mountain. They didn't know the occupants, they just came in and started helping.


To give you an idea of work, that silt mound in the previous pic took 5 strong adults with two wheelbarrows and a trailor about 2.5 solid hours to move out onto the street. That was only the silt from their front yard... just one house, among thousands of houses in much worse condition.


Meanwhile, on my way to Hagley Park to partake in the NYE celebrations, this was as close as I could get to the CBD red zone.


You feel very unsettled walking past these sites.


NYE - let's hope 2012 is kinder to Cantabrians. Poor buggers have been through more than enough.


Another red zone abandoned house. See how the water is inside their house as well as out.


Another bad case of liquefaction. The doors can no longer be opened.



Beautiful homes broken... whole neighbourhoods now deserted. Only one or two elderly remain in this whole street because they have nowhere else they can go. Who will check on them?


Yep - it's a bitch.


These appear everywhere.


The people of Parklands, one of the most affected areas, put on a bit of a party on New Years day. There's Bob Parker in the cap who I got to meet. (Hard to recognise without his trademark orange jacket with the sleeves rolled up....) He thanked Dem and I for our work which was quite nice, but I'd have preferred him to come out with us and help shovel some silt.


Mental note: Stay the hell away from a guy who has a shed like this one. I'm sure it looked like crap even before the earthquake!


This was my last job on 1/1/12 before flying home to Wellington. I couldn't understand how this old man's shed was still standing... and I didn't really like being in here! Luckily there were no aftershocks. Check out the floor...


This was what was outside the shed. It is like walking on the moon or something. This gives a good indication of the thickness of it all.


It's wet, sloppy, heavy, and smelly! This is very recent liquefaction, unlike the other stuff we shoveled which was nice and powdery.


Imagine this going all through your house. Reckon the EQC or your insurance company, or the government will help you out? Think again!!! Dem and the Student Volunteer Army have done more work than all those organisations put together. While they are talking and planning, Dem is out there doing and fixing.


I lost count of how many of these I did, but this was the worst job by far because of the liquidy consistency.


What an amazingly  strong sense of community spirit, to spend her own money; travel to a city she had no connection with; and help people she did not know by shovelling silt for three days almost non-stop..

Imagine if such community spirit was more prevalent in our society. Oh, the things we could accomplish.

Thank you, Angie. And to all the other good people who have lent a hand.


Outside Mrs Miller's house.



It says it all, really.





Geonet: Dec 23 2011 – Christchurch hit again at Christmas

Christchurch Quake Map

Student Volunteer Army (SVA)

TVNZ: Residents want ChCh suburb Red-Zoned



Police-inspired craziness ends.

22 August 2011 1 comment

About time.

This case should never have proceeded as far as it did. The mis-use of police power in this matter has brought the entire Police Force into disrepute.

Thankfully, saner heads have prevailed.

More here, though I am not fully comfortable with the ex;planation given by Police in this matter. Their “explanation” appears to be more one of a face-saving excuse, rather than an impartial look at the events that transpired that night.

One question that is unanswered is why this matter has taken exactly six months to resolve. Surely this was not a complex issue at all and if a relatively simple case like this can take six months for the Police to come to a satisfactory conclusion – then there is something seriously wrong.


Bizarre Bullshit of The Year?

17 July 2011 1 comment

LIGHT FIXATION: Asperger sufferer Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp was arrested for looting after the February 22 quake when he was caught trying to remove two light fittings from an empty Lincoln Rd property.

The ongoing police prosecution of Christchurch man, Cornelius  Arie Smith-Voorkamp, appears to be bloody-mindedness, verging on persecution. There seems no good reason to prosecute this man, as he appears to have considerable mental-health problems such as Aspergers and uncontrollable compulsions.

And now we hear that the Police are investigating the ‘Sunday’ TV programme?!

What is this – North Korean tactics imported into New Zealand?

What the hell is going on here?




Full story

In case folks want to add their voice on this issue, here are email addresses for the relevant Ministers;

Simon Power, Minister of Justice

Judith Collins, Minister for Police