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Land remediation could prolong Christchurch recovery with insurers facing around 25% of claims related to liquefaction. Tell us your story.

Land remediation could prolong Christchurch recovery with insurers facing around 25% of claims related to liquefaction. Tell us your story.

By Amanda Morrall

Liquefaction, now part of the daily vernacular in Christchurch, is proving to be a major obstacle to insurers trying to process tens of thousands of claims.

Before insurers can begin pay-outs for repairs and rebuilds on land compromised by one or both earthquakes, the long-term security of the ground underneath needs to be established.

At least 10 neighborhoods in Christchurch have suffered liquefaction, representing roughly 25% of insurance claims for building damage, according to one Christchurch insurer.

Aranui, Avonside, Avondale, Bexley, Burwood, Dallington, Richmond, Shirley, Wainoni and Phillipstown are among the most severely land damaged communities. Hillside neighbourhoods in the Eastern suburbs face equally disasterous and costly damage from land shifting and crumbling cliffs. (See financial columnist Janine Starks article here on cures for quake stress).

There are three main ways to reduce the effects of liquefaction: by stabilising the ground, by specific foundation design or by strengthening structures to resist predicted ground movements.

Waimakariri District Council, facing a similar but smaller scale problem after the September 4 earthquake, came up with a plan to rebuild neighborhoods damaged by liquefaction in an coordinated targeted manner to avoid builders, insurers, EQC, power companies working at cross purposes. (For rebuilding time frames in the area click here). For frequently asked questions, click here.

The plan, which involves the participation of 15 parties, maps out the sequence of repairs, explains in simple terms how they'll be done and by whom, and justifies the rationale for tackling problems in the order specified by engineers.

A proposal to do something similar in Christchurch is garnering some attention and was the subject of a wider discussion on Monday at Lincoln University on how to rebuild the badly damaged city.

Simon Markham, earthquake recovery manager for Waimakari District Council, said having a plan that identified what steps would be taken and when was a comfort to residents, many of whom wouldn't be returning to their homes for two years.

No public consultation

Although the plan itself was developed without public consultation, Markham said residents have so far been receptive. A series or community meetings, originally scheduled for February 22, has recently got underway to inform.

"The feedback on balance has been good. At least now they have some indication of timing from a situation of not knowing anything. So now we have a sense that it's a three-year plus programme and some of the areas are going to take a lot longer than others. Obviously the hardest part is for those people who are not due for remediation and repair until 2013.''

Markham said Christchurch may benefit from a similar approach when it emerged from the response phase of the February 22 earthquake.

"We've had some time to sit down and think about how to do the rebuild as part of the recovery but they're still working at the response stage.

"We had that for a period after September 4 then came up for air about mid October and that was intensive and comparable, but nowhere near on the same scale.''

By one estimate, the Christchurch rebuild will cost NZ$30 billion.

Fixes to land damaged by liquefaction are neither quick or cheap. (For a map of zones deemed at risk of liquefaction and a primer on fault lines in Christchurch and land remediation processes see this fact sheet by Environment Canterbury.)

Rates in Waimakariri are going up by 6-8% on average with some households facing increases of 14% to cover the cost of a new waste water treatment facility.

Christchurch City Council, while offering rate subsidies for its hardest hit residents from September 4, is currently reviewing the situation.

Meanwhile, insurers are warning residents both in and outside of Christchurch to prepare for premium hikes of a minimum of 20% in coming months as they work to recover their losses from the back to back earthquakes and pay for substantial reinsurance costs. (See story by Amanda Morrall here).

See for more information on earthquake facilities and mapping of damaged areas.

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Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Welcome back Hugh, welcome back to the circus that is NZ, a circus that happens to be run by the clowns


And we have debt Elephants Hugh...we have the rural Elephant and it's mate "Urban"....both are here to stay along with fathead politicians and useless bureaucrats and a reserve bank dead keen on keeping both Elephants in the best of health.

You don't need tickets for the comes as a free prize for being born here or moving here. Don't miss the special November show will you Hugh...the clowns come out in their finest bullshit for and and something sort of kacky yellow with pink dots...this year is extra special because Bolly the gate keeper handed out dollar notes to those in debt..they have to spend them before the show ends or the notes become worthless.

If you look closely at the Pinus Rhubarb big tent poles'll see they are riddled with borer or soggy with rot....and the canopy above is made of bricks Hugh....bricks and hope.

If you see Gerry...he's the one with the spade wearing gummies...digging a ten metre deep hole round his Avonside property...he's planning on a moat Hugh.....we can look forward to having a 'moated Gerry'!



Heres the problem  they are finding at the Wamik council. NOT all the houses down a street are badly damaged. So they now have the issue that maybe one in three houses do not need the land fixed, But they need these houses off the land to be able to fix the neighbours land.  WHo is to pay for the removal of the good house? This is the situtation my mother is in the insurance company wont pay for removal, EQC do not want ot pay for removal, my mother does not wont to pay for removal, she just needs her house fixed which comes under the 100k mark so does not need the house removed just fixed, but the house at the back of her has fallen into a hole, they need her house removed to be able to fix there land and rebuild...... .and this sitaution repeats itself down the entire nothing has been done to even start the process re the land..hence all the insurance etc is on hold.


Weird.......I dont see its anything legally to do with your mother...the house at the back's insurance will have to pay the back houses costs. Its her land so I dont see how they can force her to sell in terms of natural justice.  So logically, the back's insurance writes a cheque to the back's owner(s) and takes over the uh...hole....and I guess fills it as worthless and cops the losses. I dont see why your mother shold suffer or be dis-advantaged at least without fair compensation. 



The land is to be covered By EQC, not the insurer, here is the problem, until EQC decide how to fix land, the insurer wont move, catch 22.  So EQC really have to pay for mothers house to be removed and then put back, but then this goes over the $100k threshold, then the insurer needs to step in, they are saying no as the removal costs should be covered by EQC, if they need it removed to fix neighbours land. Multiply this 8 times as you go down the street, suddenly you see why nothing has actually been done as finger pointing starts (it's a real Grey area that no one has actually fiqured out who is going to pay the Bill).


very interesting FCM, someones property rights is going to get screwed.