Red Alert

Archive for February, 2011

If ever…

Posted by on February 28th, 2011

.. there was a reason to invest in single parents to allow them to:

  • study and gain qualifications
  • improve their prospects of a job with a future
  • improve their sense of self worth
  • reduce the liklihood of intergenerational welfare dependency

this is it.

This interchange took place tonight on Red Alert in the comments section of Annette King’s post from a couple of days ago.

It’s powerful.

ianmac says:
February 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm  (Edit)

Mother. How do regard yourself in the scheme of things as a mother with two preschoolers and collecting the DPB? Are you a bad person? Or a person giving it her best shot?

A Mother says:
February 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm  (Edit)

Interesting question.

I see myself that I am a strong person, who is doing the best for my children (leaving a relationship that had gone bad due to ’someone’ getting a new job, trying to stay awake to do the work due to odd and long hours then eventually taking what his workmates used (you fill in the gaps) so no warning it was going bad, pre kids, but it got pretty nasty. He has got help since

Moving out with two young children (9 weeks and 16 months at the time), into a house by myself in Aug 2008 and in the same week made enquires into Uni as I knew I had to support them some way. I did Data entry before I had children (stoped work 2 days before I had my oldest) but that wouldn’t support us all. Following Feb started doing a uni prep and cross credited them over. I then started Uni degree part time last year (childcare too expensive) from home, didn’t give up and found a way around the canning of the TIA. It will take me 6 years instead of 3 but I will get there. I will qualify at the end of the year my youngest is 6. I think that doing this was pretty courageous really.

I put my children first. I volunteer at the Playcentre, doing office jobs there etc, helping out on sessions and doing the courses there too, as being involved with the education of my children is important to me. My children are happy, they laugh, are polite (please thank you your welcome) they share and have empathy. They ask questions and can’t think of anything worse than time out. That makes me happy. Playcentre has giving me support, friends with other mothers with children (hardly any of them are single, me and one other?)

I pick myself up and carry on and get things done. I am busy and it doesn’t involve sitting at home and drinking beer or wine. It doesn’t involve going out socialising. It does involve making sacrifices and being able to make money and meals stretch (like the other mothers as most are single income families, it involves sacrifices)

A lot hear I am on the DPB with young children, therefore think I am a bad person and must be lazy. They just hear DPB and the stigma of it is pinned on me. Due to having two little people, I do think some assume I fell pregnant while I was on the benefit and that is not the case.

I have a plan, I will get there, I am not just sitting around. I am busy, I am not lazy. I am who I am.

So I suppose I am giving it my best shot at a new chance of life for the three of us. Wish I didn’t have to collect the DPB and at the moment I am trying to think in my mind that it is the same as the student allowance as I am a student and a collecting a benefit like other students do. If it wasn’t the DPB it would be the student allowance. I know it isn’t the same but it helps ME feel better about the situation.

As Annette says: Making solo mums look for work when their child turns three, instead of five, says paid work is more important than the job of caring for and nurturing young children. I don’t get it.

One week on

Posted by on February 28th, 2011

Tomorrow it’s a week since everything changed. For Christchurch. For New Zealand. It is good to see the Government’s first phase of response. I salute it. At first glance, it acknowledges the scale of what we face. The test will be an ongoing commitment. I have to say that a week ago I was ramping up OIAs, PQs  and public criticism of the Government’s failure to assist the business community after the September 4 and Boxing Day quakes; not to mention the looming disaster with heating.

There can be no more stoney faces and deaf ears. We face a catastrophe which marks every New Zealander’s life; the “where were you on February 22″ moment.

This is a disaster that will take a decade of recovery; it will transcend changes of government. It is heartening to see  the international response Our city is dotted with Urban Search and Rescue teams in a palette of colours from bright pink (China) to bright yellow (Taiwan). As the  local MP, I  met the many foreign USAR teams at Latimer Square on Saturday, along with  John Key and Gerry Brownlee.  As hard-wired as we all are as politicians, we can put the differences aside at times – and never before have the needs so demanded that. 

I hope we get a huge response from the Government’s call for international donations.  Here’s one unreported example of the need. Talk about a bad luck story. St Pauls Trinity church sits diagonally opposite CTV. It is run by the charismatic Rev Lapana Faletolu, a warm and engaging Samoan, who draws a mixed Samoan/Palangi congregation. A year or so ago, Lapana got city council support to rebuild the church which was showing its age. Then, it was devastated by fire. A rebuild plan still took shape as services took place in the hall. Then Sept 4 damaged it further; then Boxing Day. Still it survived. Last Tuesday will probably prove too much. 

Outside the CBD, there is the damage in the suburbs – less dramatic but as substantial. Suburbs left untouched in September have been deluged with silt and seen houses knocked off foundations. There is worse. I understand there were two fatalities at my local fish shop on the Worcester St/Stanmore Rd corner.  Yesterday Phil and I were there watching a British USAR team go through the rubble with the distressed owner of an adjoining shop. With nearly 150 victims now confirmed, the deaths are starting to touch us all. My favourite local cafe, Under the Red Verandah on Worcester St, is munted. A cook who had just left to take up another job, will be buried tomorrow after rubble fell on him on Gloucester St. He was a father of two. 

There are hard days ahead. Kia kaha to us all.

Hughes x2 +old guys on Chch – Back Benches

Posted by on February 28th, 2011

WE HEART CHRISTCHURCH: The Christchurch Earthquake is a national tragedy. People around the country and the world have been touched by this event. How do we make sure Cantabrians are getting the help they need? How do we make sure payments get to Christchurch on time? How do we begin to rebuild our city? Is moving the CBD the best idea? Is an Earthquake levy a good way to raise money for the people of Christchurch?

WHAT CAN I DO?: Many of us living outside of Christchurch have been feeling helpless not knowing how to help friends, families and strangers. What can we do? Is it cash? Are there things besides cash that we can offer? Please note: Should you like to contribute to Christchurch Relief—Back Benches will be accepting donations from our viewers on behalf of the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 2nd of March. 7.30pm The Panel: Green MP Gareth Hughes, Labour MP Darren Hughes, and National MP John Hayes. United Future Leader Peter Dunne.

The Christchurch Earthquake – People living with disabilities

Posted by on February 28th, 2011

As the past week has unfolded NZ has been gripped with grief over the traumatic events of the Christchurch earthquake. As the death toll has increased we are reminded of the immeasurable cost to human life that Cantabrians face and the great tragedy that will forever mark New Zealand’s history.

Amidst this time of great grief we have been comforted by the support of our international community who, even today and no doubt in the weeks to come, continue to offer their resources to the huge effort being undertaken to assist people affected by this tragedy. In such a difficult time it has been overwhelming to witness the response from emergency services at the front line ensuring food and water is distributed, that houses are safe, and that people are comforted. Many of those providing emergency services have volunteered their time and resources and support continues to pour in from around the country. We are determined to stand together resilient in the face of huge adversity.

As the official statements from emergency services have reminded us, one of the most immediate responses to victims of the earthquake has come in the form of neighbours, and those close by affected areas, checking on others in their community – by all accounts, Cantabrians have not let each other down.  Whilst natural disaster strikes the hearts and homes of many people all over New Zealand in one form or another, a particularly acute impact is had on those in the affected area living with disability.

The most recent disability survey highlights that close to 600,000 adults and 90,000 children (17% of the population) registered as having a disability. Furthermore, the likely hood of having a disability also increases with age meaning that our elderly are particularly vulnerable. It is also important to remember that a majority of those living with disability endure sensory and physical disabilities impacting on their ability to access vital emergency services in a natural disaster. In particular, structural damage to buildings, liquefaction and rubble have a compounding impact on those living with disability. In short reduced mobility can often mean lesser visibility lesser access and also lesser voice.

In times of natural disasters, it is also important to bear in mind that assisting those with existing disabilities is only half of the equation. The National Director of CBM (formerly the Christian Blind Mission) reminds us that for every person that dies in times of emergency three will suffer a severe disability.  We’ve all heard the stories of survivors having to have limbs amputated in order to free them – there will be many that will suffer from varied long term disability because of this disaster.  Those survivors of the Christchurch earthquake that will require rehabilitation from injuries and who experience permanent disabilities will need our on-going consideration and support.

There have been a couple of times whilst watching the televised coverage, that I’ve seen a NZSL interpreter in action – this will be a welcomed initiative by NZ’s deaf community. Approximately 200,000 New Zealanders live with a hearing impairment that cannot eliminated by a hearing aid. Whilst the NZSL interpreter will benefit many of the deaf community around NZ thought also needs to be given to those living in earthquake struck Christchurch without access to television, consistent subtitling of media coverage or sign language interpreters at future emergency updates. The absence of such services potentially compounds the distress being felt amongst our deaf community in an already stressful time.

There is so much to take in to consideration when reflecting on the enormity of the Christchurch situation.  Our people living with disabilities in the midst of the turmoil – are an important group to remember when reflecting on or responding to the very serious situation at hand.

Christchurch rising

Posted by on February 27th, 2011

Others can be far more eloquent than me on this subject.  Rod Oram is today,  writing in the Sunday Star Times, an inspiration for us NZers struggling to conceptualise the enormity of last Tuesday.

He’s looking ahead and speculating about what we can do as a nation.

My kind of guy. Need more like him.

Here’s an excerpt:

As a nation, we’re rallying magnificently around them now. But the long, hard, job of rebuilding will require us to start doing things a lot differently.

Crucially, we must invest boldly and fully for the long term, rather than hoping we can make do. We must overcome distrust, frustration and distractions so we give the people of Christchurch and New Zealand a city they deserve…

… We tell ourselves we’re among the best in the world when it comes to earthquake resilience. Look how clever we were to build Te Papa on rubberised base isolators, look how prudent we were to stash money in the Earthquake Commission.

That, though, is delusional. Almost all councils except Wellington have adopted passive approaches to earthquake strengthening of older buildings. Only if owners make major modifications might upgrades be required, and then, in most cases, to only one-third of the standard for new buildings…

… We must think of earthquake proofing as an investment, not a cost. The same applies to inspiration. Widespread destruction in central Christchurch gives its people a remarkable opportunity to conceive and build a city that is even more beautiful, liveable and sustainable.

Yet, judging by New Zealand history – Napier excluded – we’ll race to build a cheap, rather shoddy centre that’s barely fit for the short-term. We’ll tell ourselves we can’t afford to do better. But we’ve got to invest for the future. Given the world’s rapidly rising human population, burgeoning cities, stresses of climate change and ever-scarcer resources, energy and water, the whole nature, form and technology of cities is changing in revolutionary ways. If we fail to adapt our cities and towns, we will drastically weaken the quality of our lives, and our competitiveness in the global economy…

… Thus the earthquakes are an extraordinary opportunity to achieve those goals in the centre of Christchurch, thereby greatly improving the whole urban area.

Christchurch will remain its very attractive self, in character and defining factors such as its historic street grid. But it will find new expressions of those, which will be uniquely right for it, and appropriate for the new global reality. In doing so, Christchurch will become truly sustainable. It will make resilient its presence on the Canterbury plain, it will greatly enhance its economy, and it will lift the spirit of its people. This is not the task of the city. It is the task of the nation.

Christchurch earthquake: Our amazing ICT community

Posted by on February 25th, 2011


When bad stuff happens, the instinct is to do something. Making hot dinners seems to be top of the list.

There are so many people doing amazing things at this time. If people don’t mind, I’m going to highlight some work being done by New Zealand’s ICT community, which tends to remain a bit invisible.

Scores of geeks around NZ (hope they don’t mind the term)  have been making the equivalent of hot dinners since Tuesday afternoon. What they’re doing illustrates how quickly Kiwis rise to the occasion and create innovative solutions.

They’ve been furiously at work creating new and innovative platforms to enable NZers to understand the earthquake and its devastation better;

See which shows the Christchurch recovery map (Read this for info about who’s behind this amazing resource and what they’re doing)

To enable people who need emergency accommodation, transport and places for their pets to go to link up with those who can offer help;

See TradeMe’s Christchurch Earthquake support website

And to enable Christchurch businesses to keep operating and get the help they need;

See here a site launched today called

It’s mission? Supporting IT Businesses in Christchurch
This site is being set up to coordinate the efforts of a number of organisations and businesses who want to deliver support to the Christchurch based IT sector. Once the initial rescue operations are over that city’s economy will need help to recover.

Keep in mind that what most people will need is work to pay the bills. If you have a project, consider how work could be allocated to Christchurch based firms and contractors. Consider whether projects your company has won could be done faster with help from Christchurch. The goal is to rebuild a vibrant and strong IT industry in that city.

As well as doing the “can you help”, “we can help” match up we hope this can quickly become the place where projects can be identified, resourced and run.

It’s worth noting that has been created by created by Catalyst IT, Based in Wellington. Their staff have also been manning (eerk!) staffing the TXTs for the Student Volunteer Army in Christchurch, basically allowing for the coordination of the students to the areas of much need.

And here’s the support being offered by Microsoft to its customers and support partners in the Canterbury region.

And this is probably but the tip of the iceberg. Some amazing work being done and I’ll keep writing about it.

Update: NZICT and NZTE have been running a hardware collection programme which has  500 items collected, as well as international interest through NZICT’s membership of the World IT and Services Alliance (WITSA).  NZICT has also been coordinating offers of office space, hosting facilities and support from companies through the ICT community, and there are also plans underway to provide financial assistance to affected companies in Christchurch.  DIA has also been involved in balancing the requirements of government agencies.

If anyone has any hardware, facilities, services or other ideas to contribute please contact Brett O’Riley at

Census postponed

Posted by on February 25th, 2011

The decision by Government Statistician Geoff Bascand to postpone the March 2011 census was the correct one.

With the devastation caused from the Earthquake on February 22, the census is the last thing on people’s minds as New Zealanders recover from the disaster.

I support the decision from Statistics New Zealand to not hold the census on March 8 as we as a nation turn our efforts to help the people of Christchurch through their darkest hour.

I also send my best wishes to census staff based in Christchurch at this very traumatic time.

Initial thoughts on WWG report

Posted by on February 25th, 2011

Tragic events in Christchurch have overtaken National’s Welfare Working Group’s report into the future of the welfare system, which was released on Tuesday.

This is a time when all New Zealand stands together, including political parties, out of respect to the victims of the quake and their families and to ensure that the rescue and recovery operations in Christchurch can proceed without unnecessary distraction. 

For that reason Labour has not formally responded to the WWG report’s recommendations or the Government’s response.

However, I do have some initial thoughts, which you will see below. I and my Labour colleagues will expand on these when the time is more suitable.

The WWG report sets a target of taking 100,000 people off welfare and into work over the next decade:

  • Where are the jobs going to come from?
  • Jobs have been not been a priority for this government.
  • Moving 100,000 people off benefits and into work takes us back to the total benefit figures in 2008 when National took over.
  • The past two years have been a huge wasted opportunity.
  • The economy has ground to a halt under National.
  • It is not possible to force people into jobs that do not exist.
  • GDP will have to increase by 3 per cent a year over the next decade to meet this target. Current forecasts average 2.5 per cent a year. Where’s the plan?

The report is a mix of:

  • Tried and failed ideas from the 1990s – privatising welfare delivery, splitting welfare policy and delivery arms, work for the dole, and,
  • Advocating for incentives and programmes to get people into work. Many of these existed under Labour but National abolished or slashed them – such as the Training Incentive Allowance for solo mums on the DPB, scholarships, dedicated Winz case managers who built up knowledge of individual clients and were better able to assist them, ECE funding, strategic skills and training programme funding, and,
  • Extreme ideas which give the Key government room to appear less hard line by rejecting them. Eg forcing solo parents who have another child to look for work when the youngest turns 14 weeks; and giving young parents access to free “long acting, reversible contraception”;

Making solo mums look for work when their child turns three, instead of five, says paid work is more important than the job of caring for and nurturing young children.

The first six years of a child’s life are the most important in terms of development.

Child poverty, which is already on the rise under National, will get worse still.

Forcing severely disabled people on a “Jobseeker Support Benefit” with supplementary payments tied to efforts to get into work will result in severe mental anguish and hardship for an already vulnerable group of people.

Early childhood education fees, which have already gone up under National, will rise again.

Blaming and punishing the poor lets tax avoiders who do not pay their fair share of tax off the hook.

China joins the relief effort

Posted by on February 25th, 2011
The Chinese Rescue team arrive in Christchurch

The Chinese Rescue team arrive in Christchurch

I’m glad to see that an urban disaster rescue team from China has arrived in Christchurch this morning to assist in the relief effort in the city.

A big thumb up to the Royal New Zealand Air force who carried the team to the scene in Christchurch immediately after they landed in Auckland in the small hours of the morning.

Like all New Zealanders, the Chinese community is deeply concerned about the injured and missing in Christchurch and welcomes the arrival of the disaster specialists from china.

Of particular concern to the Chinese community are the numerous Chinese nationals missing in the CBD. According to Chinese friends in Christchurch there are at least 35 Chinese currently missing in the CBD.

At the devastated CTV building it is believed there are at least 35 Chinese students trapped inside the language school. For the past three nights, friends and family of the students have kept a vigil by the building, digging non-stop to try and recover anyone who is trapped.

The Chinese community has also commenced another round of fundraising following on from the good-will generated from last year’s fundraising initiative after the September earthquake.

The fundraising campaign is supported by the entire Chinese community with the main people and organisations behind the initiative being: The United Chinese Press,,, New Zealand Chinese New Settlers Services Trust, New Zealand Chinese Cultural Salon and Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Association.

The link to this campaign can be found here:

Also this Saturday there will be another fundraising concert being held in the Botany town square from 2.30pm. This is being organised by the Chinese New Settlers Services Trust together with others. Our candidate for the Botany by-election Michael Wood will join me – everyone is welcome to attend.

On behalf of the Chinese community I send my best wishes and thoughts to the people of Christchurch.

Shaken to the core

Posted by on February 24th, 2011

A statue of William Rolleston, a founding father of Christchurch, lies head-first in the paving on the avenue named for him.


Mother Earth heaved him and many others downwards on Tuesday; a savage 6.3 quake none of us expected; nearly six months on from September 4’s wake-up call, we had thought the worst was over.

A statue and a building can be repaired or replaced.

 Not loved ones. The death toll will without much doubt climb into triple figures.  

Perhaps we were  tempting fate by saying time and again how lucky we were to escape September 4 and Boxing Day’s reprise without a single fatality?

Tonight the first names of victims were released; two men, two babies, all from Christchurch.

May they rest in peace.

The full list will stretch around the planet as the growing international media presence attests.  

 A  friend tonight told how he and his son were eating lunch in the Square at 12.50 on Tuesday when the quake struck. cathedral

He saw three people thrown out of the Cathedral’s tower to the ground, 30m below. The police believe perhaps six and as many as 20 people may still under the rubble. Many if not most are likely to be tourists.

Phil Goff and I walked to the Cathedral today. Two weeks ago, I’d toured Phil around with Anna Crighton, deputy chair of the Historic Places Trust, outlining our concerns for heritage buildings under threat from the two earlier quakes. We could not have believed that today the future of our city’s icon of icons, the Cathedral in the Square, is in doubt.

And so much more. Rescue workers were today preparing to retrieve a body from the top floor of The Press building. A few weeks ago, editor Andrew Holden, was giving me a hard time about the bricks from my former office, which adjoined The Press, having rained some bricks down upon his building in the Boxing Day shake. Both buildings are now severely damaged. Further up the street is the site of the Octagon restaurant, famous for its jazz as well as its food. Its owner Alan, stood outsight each evening in a fedora welcoming guests.


 The Octagon had been propped up after September 4 quake. There is nothing left to prop.

Looking back up Manchester St we saw the leaning tower of Christchurch’s highest hotel, the Grand Chancellor. Unlike Pisa, this building is going to have to come down.

We didn’t walk to Latimer Square today but had both visited yesterday. Viewing the rubble of the CTV building, I thought back sadly to last Friday. CTV’s newest recruit, Emily Cooper, just a month into her career, had interviewed me. A few minutes later, Emily appeared out in front of me. Big hugs all round.  She’d been out of the building 15 minutes when the quake struck. Tonight, a man hug from CTV veteran Rob Cope Williams who was also out of the building on Tuesday. Canterbury to the core, he’s planning to revive a regional television service. His young colleague Tom then told me about returning from a lunch break in time to see the building disintegrate in front of him. There may still be as many as 80 people under the rubble.

The last major stop for Phil and I today was at the Pyne Gould building. Yesterday I’d spent two hours there as the rescue of a trapped woman unfolded. On arriving, I turned to the man to my left and asked if he knew the woman. He said “Yes, she’s my wife!”  Graham Richardson had visited the site the previous afternoon and gone home expecting the very worst. His wife of 10 years, Ann, had worked on the third floor. It was sandwiched between floors four and one.

Yesterday at 11.30 he got a phone call, asking him to confirm if he was Ann’s husband. He said yes. The caller then said that Ann had asked him to call!

I stood with Graham for more than an hour as an Aussie rescue crew extricated her. He was hyperventilating by the end. More hugs were needed after she was brought out onto the platform and given a few minutes of medical attention. As they started gently lowering her, my phone rang. I’d earlier agreed to do an interview with the ABC’s lunchtime news programme. (As a journo, I was the ABC’s NZ stringer for more than 10 years.) When they learned Ann was being brought out and down, they kept the interview rolling.

Afterwards, I encouraged Graham to come with me and to talk to waiting media, notably John Campbell. Graham was utterly elated. The wife he’d feared gone had been brought back to him. And that’s where I’ll finish for now. A story of hope triumphant; a tribute to the efforts of rescuers, both our own and from overseas, with us in our darkest hour. As stoic as we are in Christchurch, many people are feeling a bit like Rolleston – shaken off their foundations and  flattened.  We are going to need a helluva lot of hugs and help from you all from here on.

Phil’s photos from Christchurch

Posted by on February 24th, 2011

As most of you will know Phil Goff was in Christchurch when the quake struck. Along with politicians from all parties who are in Christchurch he has been helping out and supporting people on the ground as he can. He has taken some incredible, but disturbing photos. Just a few are posted below, you can find the rest on his Facebook page.

phils pic 5
Phils pick 2
Phils pic 6
phils pic 8
Phils pic 7
Phils pics 3

Posting from Labour’s EQ recovery spokesperson

Posted by on February 24th, 2011

Emergency service staff, whose priority is saving lives, are doing everything they can in what resembles a war zone. I have been helping distribute emergency phone numbers and I have come across some tremendously moving human stories. I was speaking with a woman whose relative had been killed. The person had accepted that, but didn’t know where the body was being kept. At the Hagley Park centre I was talking to a senior St John man who was marshalling his troops, and who told me his elderly father had gone into the city that day and he hadn’t been able to make contact with him since. It was amazing that given what he was going through he was still continuing to marshal his troops.

Support Canterbury

Posted by on February 24th, 2011

Might be hard for some of us but I think this is a great idea :-


Red & Black Day
Saturday 26 February is RED & BLACK DAY.

This week’s devastating earthquake in Canterbury has shocked everyone and it’s time to think about what we might do to help, especially for those of us who are removed from the scene.

The Hurricanes v Canterbury Crusaders Super 15 match scheduled for this Saturday at Westpac Stadium is CANCELLED, but let’s show solidarity with the people of Canterbury by showing our support.

So get out your streamers, scarves and stripped shirts. RED & BLACK DAY is Saturday, 26 February.

Megan’s view from Wigram

Posted by on February 24th, 2011

(Megan Woods, the Labour candidate for Wigram wrote this guest post last night)

Christchurch is a different city today than it was on Tuesday. Like many people, though, I do not think the full reality and realisation of the devastation has really hit me yet. I went to school on the site behind the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. This magnificent building, now partly lying as rubble, was part of my every-day. Today I have seen armored vehicles and soldiers on the streets, there are helicopters circling overhead and on my way home tonight I drove past a parked up truck where boxes of bottled water were being thrown down to the queues of people that stretched metres down the road.

What is even harder to comprehend is that only a couple of kilometres from where I am sitting writing this there are people trapped under rubble. There are family and friends sitting vigil not knowing if they are waiting for a rescue or a recovery. It is so hard to make sense of this and to even begin to try and imagine their pain. In retrospect we got off so lightly in September.

Not this time though. Here’s the story of my day in my local area. My day-after began last night when, after I located my family and friends and spent some time with them, I went with Jim Anderton down to the Addington Raceway which served as an evacuation centre in September. When we arrived all the local Civil Defence personal were there and rearing to go and local people looking for shelter had begun to arrive. However, this centre never opened. It was both a heart-breaking and frustrating lesson in how difficult it is to set up emergency shelter in the middle of a disaster zone when lives are being lost. After a couple of hours in the rain the people were referred across town to the Burnside High Centre.

This morning I met with Jim to go around the Wigram electorate to see if everyone was okay and to find out what the local needs are. Not the worst-hit of electorates, there is damage and people are frightened and facing losing their homes and livelihoods. A mother told us a story of her son stomping in what he thought was a puddle only to disappear in silt and sludge up to his neck. Liquefaction is wide-spread among a number of suburbs and everwhere we went there were mini volcanoes, silt and groups of neighbours who had banded together and were shoveling. It seems like a cliché to point to the comraderie and community spirit that we observed, but I think it was even stronger than last time. People had traveled across town to help friends and family try and dig their way out. One man told me he had come to help his mate so he didn’t have to watch the news reports. I ended my day, by visiting an evacuation centre at Pioneer Stadium in South Christchurch that opened at 6pm today. It was great to see it working so well.

Many local businesses were helping where they could. My local fruit and vege shop pretty much fell down, and when we called by the owners were in their boxing up their stock to donate to the Red Cross. A local café had opened, not to sell their excellent coffee, but to serve free instant coffee (they could not use the espresso machine as it does not boil the water enough), tea and sausages to anyone who needed a place to go and be with others. The owner of the privately run café at the local evacuation centre is there as a volunteer making meals for everyone. People are looking after each other.

Day one has reinforced for me the need to have good information flows between central and local government, between the bureaucrats and the agencies and between each other. This will not happen naturally and will require real leadership. We must get this right in the next 24 hours or our response to this disaster will not be all it can be. In terms of the needs we picked up in Wigram they are having the silt shifted, having clean drinking water and getting a good flow of information and having some idea of what is going to come.

Tomorrow is another day. The aftershocks are still coming, but tomorrow the job of addressing these needs begins. And all the while we hold out hope that there will be miracle stories from the central city recovery.
If you are outside Christchurch and want to help, please consider making a donation through an established organisation.

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Earthquake: Calling all old fashioned landline phones

Posted by on February 24th, 2011

Have you got one of those old fashioned phones that plug straight into the phone line and don’t need electricity?

I’ve got one in a drawer in the kitchen as we often have power outages and I’ve found it’s an unfortunate but recurring necessity.

But when I get home tonight I’ll retrieve it and take it into the Telecom store.

This morning Telecom launched a specific request for the old-fashioned corded landline phones. Many people across Christchurch don’t have power which means their cordless phones won’t work. Telecom is asking people to take any spare corded phones to their nearest Telecom Retail store and they will be distributed through Civil Defence.

Telecom has set up a website for it –

Spread the word.

Another offer – What IT equipment does Chch need?

Have had an offer from a Kiwi who’s at a major internet conference in Hong Kong

He says he’s serious offers of help with IT infrastructure equipment from people here who are willing to get kit on flights ASAP.

If you are aware of anything we need or can help us channel these offers to the appropriate channels contact us.

Earthquake: Places to offer help

Posted by on February 23rd, 2011

Everyone I have spoken to today wants to know how they can help the people of Christchurch. As Clare notes in the previous post there are loads of places to donate or offer help to those affected.

Today thousands of Wellingtonians have stepped up with offers for accomodation. Various websites have also emerged for the same purpose including .

And now Trade Me have launched a bit of a one stop shop for offers and requests for help. Follow the link here. And kudos to our own Clare Curran who helped get this idea going.

There will be lots more places to offer help, so feel free to put them in the comments

Update: Google has released this comprehensive resource which includes:

Since the Christchurch Earthquake Support  Trademe site was launched a few hours ago, hundreds of NZers have responded by opening up their homes.

More useful contacts re earthquake

Posted by on February 23rd, 2011

People can make a donation to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal either at an ANZ Branch (account number 01-1839-0188939-00) or at the National bank (account number 06-0869-0548507-00).

Donations can be made to the Red Cross online ( or via the GrabOne website (, as the Red Cross site has been crashing.

Aucklanders who are able to offer accomodation to displaced Cantabrians should register by calling 0800 AUCKLAND.
Donations can be made to the Westpac Canterbury Care Fund, which is in partnership with the Salvation Army, either at branches nationwide or to the account number 03-0207-0617331-00.

People can donate to the Salvation Army Earthquake appeal online here ( or by calling 0800 53 00 00.

Donations can be made to the Rotary New Zealand World Community Service here (

Donations can be made to the Christchurch Earthquake Support Fund in ASB branches or online (account number 12-3205-0146808-00). Across the Tasman, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is also accepting donations for the New Zealand Red Cross.

NZ Blood Services say have sufficient blood stocks but if you are not already a donor and would like to sign up to be contacted when they do need blood donations, call 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) or email here ( to register.

The Christchurch SPCA has opened a Pet Emergency Earthquake Fund. You can donate money here ( or to the Westpac account 030802 0586429 00.

Vodafone users can donate to the Red Alert Canterbury Earthquake Appeal by texting “Quake” to 333 to make a $3 donation to the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.

Thanks to Chris for the list

Something useful

Posted by on February 22nd, 2011

This is a way for people to try to find each other after the earthquake. It’s called person finder

NZ Herald just tweeted this.

UPDATE: The New Zealand Red Cross Person Enquiry Line is now activated.

People in New Zealand concerned about the wellbeing of friends and relatives in Christchurch should call 0800 REDCROSS (0800 733 276).

If you are unable to contact a friend or relative in the Christchurch area, call the Red Cross Person Enquiry Line. Red Cross will be able to tell you if they have registered with Civil Defence.

People are encouraged to do this before reporting friends and relatives missing.

People enquiring from outside New Zealand should call +64 7 850 2199.

Christchurch Earthquake

Posted by on February 22nd, 2011

Parliament has adjourned for the day as a mark of respect for the people of Christchurch. Police are now reporting that there have been fatalities and many, many injuries. Buildings have collapsed, water and power are out.  It is a devastating scene.  The sight of the Cathedral collapsing was particularly poignant.

Our thoughts and best wishes are with all the people of Christchurch, and their friends and families.  Many people, including Christchurch MPs are trying to get hold of loved ones, and we feel for them at this time.  Labour Leader Phil Goff was in Christchurch at the time, and he is there offering whatever practical support he can.  The whole of New Zealand stands ready to provide all the practical and emotional support that we can.   We all stand alongside the people of Christchurch.  Kia Kaha.

UPDATE:  As most of you will know the news is through that 65 people have died, and that toll is likely to rise.  This is a massive tragedy, and our hearts ache for those people and their friends and families.

Key I signed papers but didn’t read them – new Tui billboard

Posted by on February 22nd, 2011

Dompost reports that Key signs papers that he doesn’t read.

It is just not believable that Key didn’t read at least one version of each of these documents.

Filed under: national