Big earthquake hits Christchurch; measured at 5.8; Fresh building damage; evacuations announced; power phones affected; Your experience?

An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit the Christchurch region just before 2 pm this afternoon and was followed just over an hour later by an bigger aftershock measured at 6.0, Geonet reports.

Cantabrians report via Twitter the quake was violent and caused power outages, cut phone lines and damaged buildings.

Residents reported liquefaction in some suburbs.

Police reported one injury, but said there had been no serious injuries or widespread damage.

Police said they were urging drivers to slow down.

"All available Police units have been mobilised across the city to provide reassurance and check on safety and damage," Police said in a statement.

They detailed the following around 4pm:

  •  Scarborough rockface has suffered some collapse but this has been contained by the containers at the foot of the cliff.
  •  Lyttelton tunnel is open
  •  Airport has been evacuated
  •  All major shopping malls have been evacuated and closed
  •  1 person is reported to have been injured at Eastgate Mall and has been taken to hospital.

Around 5 pm they detailed the following:

People are urged to stay away from hill suburbs because of risk of rockfalls.

- Some residents at Windsor Hospital rest home in New Brighton were reported to be trapped on the second floor, but are being evacuated by the Fire Service.

- Significant flooding and liquefaction eastern suburbs including Avonside and Bexley, Retreat Road, Bower Ave.

- Stopbank in Kaiapoi is damaged.

- India Blue restaurant in Sumner is damaged and has been cordoned off.

- Building on the corner of Charles St and William St, Kaiapoi is at risk of collapse.

- A vacant house at 81 Aynsley Terrace has collapsed.

- A red-stickered house in Oram Ave, New Brighton has collapsed.

- Drivers are urged to slow down and be patient as congestion is building up in some areas. Stay off roads if you do not need to travel.

- Phone networks are under pressure - text rather than phone.

Police continue to urge residents to check on their neighbours.

Federated Farmers called for farmers to report damage to utilities.

“Initial reports to Federated Farmers from our members is that is was an especially violent event,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“While it has not been centred on the City it has struck rural Canterbury."

Geonet said the first earthquake struck 8 kilmetres beneath Canterbury at a point 20 kilmotres north east of Lyttelton and 20 kilometres east of Christchurch.

Residents reported the second shake appeared to do more damage to windows and may have been shallower.

Geonet reported the second one was at 6.0 on the Richter scale.

The New Zealand dollar was steady around 77 USc despite the quakes.

'Four more years'

Local bank economists have been told it may be four years before Christchurch stops shaking, and some fear as many as one in 10 residents will leave the region if major aftershocks like today’s continue in coming months.

“At this juncture, there’s not much other than to look to the sky above,” said the ANZ’s chief economist, Cameron Bagrie of the major after-shocks on the last normal business day before the Christmas weekend.

“He’s been dishing out the bad stuff in spades. Sure, we got the Rugby World Cup, but we need some other good news on the ledger.”

Not only do the quakes inevitably delay the Christchurch rebuild, but they were likely to encourage a much larger exodus from the city than was already likely, he said.

The aftershocks recorded at 1.58 p.m. and 3.18 p.m. were 5.8 and 6.0 strengths respectively, the first out to sea at a depth of eight kilometres, while the second was a relatively shallow 5.8 kms deep, centred on the spit at South Brighton.

The ANZ had predicted after the September 2010 quake the city could lose as much as 5 percent of its population, and been accused of being too pessimistic, said Bagrie.

“It could be, from today, that was being conservative,” he told BusinessDesk. “Now, looking at Christchurch, that 5 percent seems too light and you could be up to 10 percent.

“That has massive consequences for infrastructure, networking, the whole capability of the city.”

'2012 rebuild now 'heroic' assumption'

The latest shakes came as nervous people had just started dropping their guard, said head of strategy at the Bank of New Zealand, Stephen Toplis. “This is going to scare them.”

While no deaths or injuries were immediately reported, Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said they inevitably put the rebuild of Christchurch back, and were “very distressing” on the eve of Christmas after a difficult year. Major aftershocks on Boxing Day 2010, Feb. 22, June 13, and during the Rugby World Cup in September, have put back reconstruction several times.

“My immediate reaction is to assume that the rebuild in 2012 is a pretty heroic assumption,” said Bagrie. Most economic forecasts, including the Treasury’s, have assumed the insurance-funded rebuild would kick in later in 2012, but every delay so far has pushed out the rebuild by three months or more.

However, every major aftershock creates months of additional delay because of its impact on global reinsurers who stand behind New Zealand insurance companies, and have suffered huge losses because of the quakes, which wiped out the country’s $6 billion Earthquake Commission insurance fund.

The rebuild will create a construction boom, but in the meantime the damage has cut a swathe through employment in the retail and hospitality sectors, with a report this week highlighting one-third of women's jobs in those sectors have disappeared since September last year.

Toplis said the government geological service, GNS, had warned it could be four years before the shaking settled down.

“This is all part of the same thing and it’s going to keep happening,” he said.

Initial financial market reaction has been muted, with market watchers expecting the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to keep interest rates lower for longer because of delayed reconstruction, but not to cut the official cash rate, already at a historic low of 2.5 percent.

"The insurers have said they will not be paying up in full until they're confident that things are stable - this just tells them it's not," Toplis said. Still, it's "a postponement not a cancellation" and it was "grossly premature to start talking about interest rate cuts."

(With Pattrick Smellie of BusinessDesk)

(Updated with more detail from Police, Geonet, Federated farmers, economist reaction)


We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

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.


Do you think statistical scores based on multiple variables that we don't understand the dynamics of have any value?

I don't understand what you are syaing.

However the way that the IPCC reports qualify their statements with assessments of the quality of data behind it and the satistical significance of the statement are valuable.

Owen McS, I'd hardly say that stage 2 physics makes anyone an expert -  at 17, I got straight A+'s in stage 2 honours level Maths, Physics and Chemistry (all of which was just for fun since I didn't intend studying any of those at that time) - personally I wouldn't consider myself any more than "slightly informed" (definitely no expert (despite ending up doing 4th year Physics)).

But anyway, my point is, I view climate change, peak oil etc as oversold garbage, but I also consider flat out opponents as silly too.

The fact is that the climate changes (there's pretty clear evidence for recent iceages!).  Glaciation and global warming are as natural as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

If the plan is to defy nature and intervene to keep the climate exactly as it is now, sure that's an option, but should we bother?

Possibly, just a little, I like trees and we need them for reasons other than just recycling carbon!  Peak oil is a load of hype though, economics will simply force alternatives.

My philosophy is that we should be sensible with resources, continue to make new advances and let everything sort itself out. 

Worrying about problems and demanding radical change never solves anything.  Slow and steady is the way forward, everyone needs their heads firmly screwed on (in the right direction).

You don't have to be an expert in a subject, Chris_J, to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, just sufficiently formally educated in it so that when confronted by the two, you can actually see the difference and pass an informed comment. That is an extremely important end in itself and is one the values of a good quality undergraduate education. But you are correct in that only having an undergraduate degree does not give you expertise. Even a Master’s degree does not make you an expert, just a master of that subject.  But having no formal qualifications at all, well............

Sadly a Masters makes you no master either.  I know plenty of PhDs who barely know their own subject, let alone anyone else's!

Sorry not to take my own advice, but more pragmatism and less preaching is our salvation!

If you want to make change, don't waste your energy trying to convince others of your enlightenment, demonstate it and if your successful others will try to imitate you!

That way you can be happy in what you do without having to worry about everyone else's problems.

Pragmatism, that's the answer, more sensibleness!

Less whingeing, more action.

Only problem, bureaucrats, insurers, moaners etc love to stand in your way, which I guess is why I end up on here whingeing!

So the solution is to avoid all such obstacles, which would be easier to do if Christchurch weren't such a mess!

Doing your own reading of books and papers gets you a far better education than putting yourself through an indoctination factory.

Planning schools are one of the worst examples of indoctrination factories. Basically, a lot of "education" these days is anti-civilisation, on numerous grounds. Capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, injustice and oppression, exploitation, environmental crime, yadda, yadda, yadda. As if anything has ever worked better for mankind than Anglo-Protestant democracy and free markets. As if the environment was preserved better in the USSR. As if the "oppressed races" would come up with their own Thomas Edison, John Locke and Benjamin Disraeli if not for the dreadful imperialists "oppressing" them.

Well maybe it's because we both got to about the same level in some basic science subjects that we agree on just about everything to do with climate issues and the best way to advance our use and management of resources.

I do not know anyone who denies climate change. There might be some deep greens out there who really believe the earth is a stable perfect sphere and that any change must be caused by us and be for the worse.

But they are hardly worth bothering about. Secular fundamentalists.

My other observation is that those with the least training in science, and maths and statistics are the most adamant that their beliefs are absolutely correct and equate any reasonable skepticism with holocaust deniers.


Yes is funny how everyone outside of CHC are now telling us how we should rebuild and what a great opportunity we have. Most people on here have forgotten about the huge emotional costs (that larger Human part that often gets overlooked- rather than the bricks and morta) now to  have you children crying and wetting their bed everytime you have a serious of aftershocks, have your children basically living in your bedroom becuase they are scared. You as a parent trying to put on a brave face. This is why a lot of people dont have the energy left to stay and rebuild/fix "the city of the future", it's not that they have not loved living in the city, it's that they are now emotionally/financially exhausted. The city planners will need to build this into there 5-10 years plans for recovery as the exodus will increase in the short to medium term.

Someone has to do it. What a mess, what a mess.

We need some kind of taxpayer funded watchdog of bureaucracy, so that private individuals do not have to devote thousands of hours to get any sort of action on corruption, incompetence, and ideological capture.

Owen McShane has had a bit to say about this in the past - the need for funding of  "contestable advice" and the like.

I think the closed minds of the contemporary planning class, to any arguments against their shallow assumptions on urban form, is a sign of a dangerous quasi-religious irrationalism. I just read "The Perils of Urban Consolidation" by Patrick Troy, an Australian University Professor. Published 1996. I am appalled at the way that solid rational assessment on issues of urban form, has been consigned to a kind of memory hole (like in Orwell's "1984"). The insights provided by people like Troy, and Alain Bertaud, and Peter Gordon, and Alan W. Evans and several more I have become acquainted with; should have been sufficient to debunk the planners utopian, arcadian ideals before they caused increased amounts of harm; which harm is still going to be played out for decades yet. 

I think "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming" and "Urban Growth Containment" are both examples of the same kind of inertia at work: media; political; bureaucratic; and taxpayer funding of research and bureaucracy. I think this kind of thing is one of the forces destroying western civilisation today - finance sector rent seeking is one problem; but these people skim their "rents" off funds voluntarily invested; public employees skim their salaries and bonuses and heavily-padded superannuation schemes out of the compulsory tax take. Which is more morally heinous?


The public are mostly under a misapprehension that public employees "serve the public interest". They do not. They serve their own interests. I doubt that any honest and scrupulous public employee ever gets anywhere within the system.


"Public choice theory" is a diverse field of study that includes analysis of many of the problems we are discussing here. Wikipedia provides a good thumbnail:

This is like a rot in our civilisation. It's not just the Councils and NIWA.


Prof. John Robinson's "tell-all" book about having to re-write NZ pre-colonial history to bureaucratic order, is just another example of the same rot. So, too, the rot in the justice system and criminal justice, as outlined in David Fraser's "Badlands" book. 


So the answer really becomes "small government", period, doesn't it. 


John Key swallowing Al Gore's Propaganda movie and appointing himself a blatantly P.C. "science advisor" just shows how much Key himself is part of the problem.

Philbest, Wellington is the elephant in the room. We all know it's "overdue" for the big one - of course this is a bit of a silly term, because nature doesn't work neatly to human constructs of time!!!! But still......

Lets hope a big one doesn't hit Wellington in the next 5 years at least. I think the impact together with ChCh would pretty much bankrupt the country.

In the meantime the city will struggle. A friend has some hertitage office property in Wellington, since the ChCh earthquakes the market has become (rightfully) a lot more fussy about earthquake strengthening in heritage buildings, my friend is having to spend a lot of money on some properties to get them retenanted. Along with the gradual erosion of the bureaucracy there, this will eat away at Wellington's viability

Exactly. I presume you are replying to my earlier comment on Wellington somewhere way back up the thread.

I wish we had a lot more people like Hugh, someone needs to be initiating legal action against the Wellington bureaucrats and planners already, not waiting for a disaster to show them up.

The worst of the worst, eh   :)

OMG - spin 101 says smear what you are on the other fellow. That about sums you up, and you haven't answered the question, which means the truth isn't on your 'side'. What a sad way to live, and what a sad thing to look back on as a 'life achievement'. I pity you.

PB - if you stopped screaming, you might have time to think. Start with acknowledging that evolution, and long time-scales, are a fact. That will take all your efforts for a while, and you're excused while you're away. Until you jettison the creationist nonsense, you can't have a balanced view (dubious instructions to 'go forth and multiply' come to mind).

Until then, don't put your assumptions up as to what others think. You'll just be wrong. I have never sighted, nor heard of, Parker and his plan. Simply put, most of Chch will be extant well into the powering-down phase of Peak Energy, and has to be made sustainable as possible. There is no longer the lead-time to replace. Macro changes will indeed see the demise of the Fonterra-type farms, and an increase in labour-per-acre (inevitable, that's what the energy replaced on the way up).

The acre/head ratio will approach lifestyle-block proportions, and we will probably see existing villages reorganised, and replicated. The essential will be local food-growing space, but whether it be via 'commons', or allotments, or minimum section ordinances, has yet to be debated.

It's interesting to note the vested-interest and paid-spin here, there's more of it than there isn't.

Bit thin skinned aren't we powerdownsyndromekiwi? Whatever makes you think someone would pay another to post on this site? That's ridiculous.

Clearly people who have challenged your arrogant domination of this message board are getting up your nose ( perish the thought!)

Still you make life entertaining.


One of us can lie straight in bed - oh goodie, it's me.

Hilarious! You're like a whacka mole, back for more! If you kept your discourse civil you would regain respect. Why not try it and see what happens.

Hughey - I agree about one thing, our Universities have a problem. I've been attending lectures (mostly 400 level physics) for the last 6 years, not to gain a degree or a job, just to keep cranially active.

There seems to be a culture of what I can 'Interdisciplinary genuflection'. In the old days, for instance, a Zoology Prof wouldn't rubbish a Theology type (though clearly they should have - It'd save us from the Creationists).

Clearly, the problem now is between Economics/Business, and Physics. Physics is a reality science - deals with the real. Says growth of anything based on the physical must at some stage cease, and that stage will be at the point of maximum supply of whatever essential item cannot be substitutedt.

Economics (and Business) teaches that growth is (a) desirable, and (b) infinitely possible.

Like the Theology of yore (think: Geering vs the dinosaurs), Economics is wrong. Plain wrong. Exponential growth, forever, based on the finite resources of a finite planet, is not possible (and I'd invite any Economics Prof to debate that one - in any forum).

You can prove this in miniature yourself, but you won't! Get a pile of anything dropped in your driveway. get into it exponentially - one shovel the first night, 2,4,8,16...... the last half goes in the last night. It just scales up for the planet, for Cantab, for anything finite.

Sadly, these folk are the prop for your mistaken grasp of reality, and as such, have a lot to answer for.

The Universities should have an 'overview' format, where these conflicting things are sorted out - it's simply what we require from our bastions of knowledge at this point.


Economic growth is not exponential, and no economy in all of human history has ever grown in an exponential manner. Societies are not bacteria in a pitre dish. I don't know how many times you have been told this but you stubbornly refuse to take it on board in a manner that is just simply bloody minded.

Ah, here we go.

A question, oh learned one?

At what % p.a. does growth cease to be exponential, and revert to being linear?




PDK, over short timeframes low growth rates are actually pretty linear!  And remember exponents can be negative too!!

(But even if it is positive 0.5%PA growth over 20 years == about 0.52% linearly, 1%PA over 20 years is about 1.1% linearly).

So it ain't the end of the world - especially considering NZ's growth has been cumulatively sub zero since Q4 2007! (no, that wasn't the slang term for super cool!).

Remember population growth isn't necessarily positive exponential either, just ask the Japanese!

Negative growth rates mean populations do fall, and eventually populations will move to some kind of balance.  It's not a big issue and far from worthy of being worried about.

In fact if your a European NZer your rate of breeding in your clan is probably not even positive!

Obviously population growth rates are not sustainable at high levels, but nature or something else takes care of that.  What plant or animal that breeds at growth rates of hundreds or even thousands of percent a year actually dominate the earth?  None.

However the reality is that there is no limit to positive growth in productivity - the other main component of economic growth.

I can be many times more productive (thank's to technology) than my great grandparents were.  They were many times more productive than their grandparents and so forth.

Increasing productivity doesn't necessarily consume more resources either as consumption in resources becomes more efficient.

Then remember time is always being created, therefore work hours are always being created.  More energy is always becoming available on the earth (thanks to the giant fusion reactor 8 light minutes away), and the rest will get sorted out with time, which we have plenty of (well the planet and humanity collectively does, humans individually don't have long enough at all!)

Now as for those 400 level Physics courses, after six years you must know the curriculuae inside out, so you know your charm flavours from your bras and all that sort of thing! (quark,dirac)

ChrisJ - now THAT was the best attempt at a rebuttal I've had hereabouts.

Good stuff.

"However the reality is that there is no limit to positive growth in productivity - the other main component of economic growth"

There we differ (actually, we differ in that I still see linear growth - it quickly dwindles to 0% - as unsustainable).

I co-chaired Solar Action for some time, and agree with you re the sun. The problem is that you have to use the last source, to construct the infrastructure for the next. That, in turn, has to be done before the peak supply of the last, or you have to triage some of the activities you are doing at that point.

Solar is indeed the only long-term energy source, and the only valid pathway, but:

It doesn't do plastics, fertiliser, big AG, and will never power a 747.

And:  there's the wee problem of the other physical prerequisities.

Productivity is an interesting area - my specialty is (obviously) efficiencies, but they, like Moores Law, follow a path of diminishing returns (It's interesting to note that in the last two years, computer chips have ceased getting more powerful per size, and are beginning to get bigger - up against the limits of molecular cross-talk, long anticipated). Most folk - with respect you sound like one such - overestimate the contribution of technology, and underestimate the contribution of the joule. You do more that your great grand parents due to oil, and the productive systems you use are due to it - dependent on it - too.

Since energy-per-head peaked (1980ish) we have 'maintained' also by either screwing others into being our cheap labour, or our cheap supply of resources. (China, Nigeria). Since outright peaking of supply, and given the global nature of things, more and more will get screwed by less and less, hence the hollowing-out-by-debt of the once middle class.

 Just try and imagine turning all those gas-tank-toting personal vehicles into something solar-driven, and doing it across the planet within less than 20 years. Ever though of the energy involved in the morph? Won't happen

But Hughey and Co want to continue the car-dependent sprawl indefinitely, on the basis that it's worked so far.....  Roll on a more intelligent debate re future land use.

Thanks for taking the time and thought......


"....Roll on a more intelligent debate re future land use...."

Hear, hear.

What DO you support, PDK? Self sustainable lifestyle blocks, or apartment blocks, office jobs, and rail public transport? Because I sure can't can't tell from your incessant ravings.

ChrisJ is simply right. Technological progress is far closer to exponential than population growth OR consumption. You refuse to learn from the past. At ANY time in human history, had humanity succumbed to your mindset, progress would have ended there. Personally, I am thankful MY ancestors bothered to keep discovering, inventing, innovating, and commercialising.

I am aware that there are Deep Greens who actually obsess about "destroying global capitalism" with their program before it has a chance to innovate its way convincingly out of the "impasse" that their propaganda claims to require totalitarian restrictions on human endeavour. I am aware that there are deep greens who say that "a new cheap harmless source of energy would be like a machine gun in the hands of a child". I am aware that there are deep greens who wish out loud for a virus to wipe out humanity for the sake of the planet.

I strongly suspect that this is the kind of person you are - your concern for the planet and nature, is based on a crackpot religious distortion rather than human amenity.

Photosynthesising plant cells are as much solar energy producers as photovoltaic cells!

And we can do all manner of things with plant material (including burning it, producing charcoal, making aviation fuels and plastic alternatives).  So I don't see that resources or energy are even remotely limited in the future.

All we need is innovation, a little forward thinking and a lot less bureaucracy.

And I'm not going to go into the specifics, Chris, but there is already a lot more innovation going in to those areas that you might otherwise think. As I have said on this board numerous times, oil is not an inorganic product like a mineral. It is a biological product, the implication of which the lunatic flat earth greenies don't seem to be able to grasp.

Biotechnology, you do the math. ;-)

ChrisJ - been down that (and other) tracks. There are a group of PhD's at Otago Uni disseminating the DNA of a particular bit of photosynthesis, with a long-term goal of just reassembling what is essential to turn sunlight into energy.

It doesn't go near close enough. We are removing/burning/using 'plant materials' from this planet at an unsustainable rate now. Where's your feedstock coming from, and what's the lead-time?

Sorry, but at the point where we're officially past peak oil by 5 years (why do you think we're deep-watering, fracking and shale/sand extracting?) and.......heck, Martenson puts it well enough, take the time to read this:

With respect, you appear to disagree (with him) via optimism and little else. Projecting history as a justification of future continuance, has to be flawed.

I've been innovating, and thinking forward, for decades CJ. Almost everyone on the planet accepts cranckshafts that produce a 180 degree sine-wave of power output, yes? For 20 years, I've been riding a bike that gives power over 230 degrees, and gives max leverage for nearly 90 degrees of that. Ther mechanism morphs to pistons seamlessly, yet I'm the only one using it.

But - technology is a law of diminishing returns, and it still requires the same effort to shift a 3 tonne load over the Rimutakas, as it always did (and a quantifiable effort to tunnel through).

".....why do you think we're deep-watering, fracking and shale/sand extracting?....."

Because we now have the technology to do so, instead of leaving the stuff in the ground; plus the significant amount of fossil fuels that gushes out of the ground by itself is located where there are nasty dictatorships.

From Randal O'Toole: "The Best Laid Plans":

"..........Since 1950, Americans have spent an average of 9.2 percent of their personal incomes on automotive transportation. The year-to-year variation has been quite small, from about 8.1 to 10.1 percent. This suggests that people have a consistent budget for travel based on a percentage of their incomes.


By comparison, the percentage of driving costs that go for gas and oil vary dramatically from year to year. In 1981, when inflation-adjusted oil prices reached an all-time high, Americans spent 40 percent of their driving expenditures on gas and oil. By 1998, it had fallen to 18 percent. This suggests that, when fuel prices rise, people reduce other auto expenses to keep total costs (as a percentage of their incomes) constant. They may keep their cars a little longer: the average age of a car in the United States grew from 6.6 years in 1969 to 8.9 years in 2001....."


Anthony Downs, in "Still Stuck In Traffic" (2004) points out that small, economical cars now remain reliable for far longer than they used to.


People are still buying new v8's and SUV's. This indicates that we've got plenty of fat to trim yet, even before technology paradigm shifts reach critical mass. I know you Deep Greens pray to Gaia every day that we humans ("cancer on the planet") do NOT gain new cheaper and more harmless forms of energy..........("....that would be like giving an idiot child a machine gun....." I am literally quoting Deep Green Taleban clerics here)

I was thinking about methane from NZ dairy emissions the other day and the idea that methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.

Given the combustion equation is: CH4 + 2 O2 → CO2 + 2 H2O

Should cows have fart tanks attached to their backs, which are emptied at milking time. The gas is then collected to run the dairy factories etc

Would this be a viable energy saver for NZ industry? Thoughts anyone?

I'm suspecting cows don't produce enough methane for it to be viable, but I haven't done any calculations.

/partially joking

We should also kill all the farting Buffalo and Videbeestes in the world to save the planet.

Is solar really sustainable though?

Only 5 billion years worth of fuel left, hence we must innovate now and leave the solar system, Carl Sagan style.


Economic growth is not exponential, and no economy in all of human history has ever grown in an exponential manner 

I agree.

But indebtedness appears to have grown exponentially.

Funny that.

Not indefinitely of course - it's cyclical, and sometimes it takes decades after a crash, to return to the asset "values" that applied before it. I'm not saying you don't know this already, you just didn't say it yourself.

This is more about distorted markets than "resource scarcity".

one of the big problems with universities is doctrinaire thinking, more commonly of the "loopy left socialist green" variety, but also sometimes of the "loopy libertarian" variety.

Doctrine destorys thinking, which is the whole point of higher learning

one of the big problems (frustrations) with blogs is comment that are broad sweeping statements without any justification given for their validity.

".....As the Australian Planning Institute found with its important 2004 Report, high attrition rates and low morale are the order of the day in these dysfunctional Local Authorities and aimless Central Government Departments.

After a while, most of them leave to seek more congenial work if at all possible.....disillusioned.......cursing those who led them in to these indoctrination camps and hell hole bureaucracies......"

Very interesting and confirming, Hugh. Here's the Report you refer to, for those who are interested. It would be nice if Council people read this:



Too much philosophical wankery guys, its a distraction.

Employment is an issue that seems to be quietly ignored. IMHO its a ticking time bomb for NZ and the govt is far too complacent.

I fear that unemployment will be 7% plus by the end of 2012. 

Look at the following factors:

- Graduates coming thorugh each year in the order of 30-40,000

- Many baby boomers delaying retirement

- Fewer job opportunities in Aus in 2012, hence less emmigration to Aus and more pressure on jobs in NZ

- Limited traditional OE opportunities in the UK (another traditional safety valve for NZ youth unemployment) 

- Limited job growth in ChCh in 2012 likely, and many of the rebuild design jobs will be serviced out of Auckland anyway. Exodus out of ChCh will place more pressure on employment in other centres

- Public service employment is contracting

If we reach 7%+ unemployment, then what does that mean for Govt's books when they are counting on it reaching 5.3% by early 2013???? 

Austerity of course, which with feedback loops will pull the economy further down.

I can see this coming a mile away




Hugh - the truth is when I voted for Key and the nats first time around I thought I'd get in him, English and co ambitious pragmatists, guys who would roll up their sleeves, leave ideolgoy behind and get the things done that needed to be done. How disappointingly wrong I was! In fact, they have been pansy- like ditherers par excellence! It seems they just want to sit on the fence and hope for the best!

Before Key got elected first term I had some good emails from him that gave me great hope, about dealing with housing issues, and the gap with Aus. Its fair to say that since he has been in power nothing meaningful has been done about housing, in fact its got worse due to added costs borne by the GST increase. And we all know that the gap with Aus has widened and emmigration to Aus has increased

Needless to say I've been very disappointed with the nats and didn't vote for them (or anyone else) in the recent election. I have little optimism for NZ based on their (lack of) performance and thats one reason why I'm in Aus.

Owen McShane was talking about the impact of planning regulation on housing back in the 1990s, its not rocket science and the evidence is all there, its just ridiculous that its still being talked about after all this time. A national disgrace, in fact. 

I admire your drive and optimism Hugh, because I have not seen evdence that the Nats have what it takes to turn things around. Maybe hope springs eternal!!!!

Matt - have a wee think.

Work requires energy (that's neither a left, nor a right, statement, merely a truth) and we are headed for less energy per-head, per time.

Currently NZ'ers use fossil energy as if we had 300 slaves apiece, 24/7.

One assumes that as supply becomes compromised, an increasing component of what we do collectively, will be manual labour. Some activities will, of course, be triaged in the process.

'Unemployment' won't be a problem, in the real sense of the word; people being active.

How that is recognised, is another matter entirely. I probably 'work' harder physically than most here, but not for 'reward' in fiscal terms. Wellbeing has many meanings other than fiscal.

Notice you failed to define 'job' ?

And - examining % growth is not a distraction - you opined on it youself yesterday, did you not? Always pays to understand what you're opining upon      :)


PDK - put up or shut up.

Kindly advocate either for "living like the Amish", OR for "urban growth boundaries". They are mututally exclusive concepts. The fact that you can't see this, leaves you utterly without credibility.

If you were talking about an ideal "way of living" that involved cheap land for all, and sustainable living at low densities, fine. But you constantly pile in here sneering at people who want an end to price-inflating racketeering in land on which people live. You simply should not have a problem with this, the only connection between this and the possible run out of resources, is that people will need MORE land per person to exist on, and there will need to be LESS useless office jobs and LESS commuting into CBD's.  

PB - sorry, too mang 'givens' in there. "Cheap" for a start.

Lert's forget finance, it makes the picture clearer that way, and the goals/problems get less muddied.

The aim is for something sustainable, yes? As in: it can be continued relatively indefinitely?

Immediately we have a problem with your kind, right there. Lets override the nonsense, and stipulate that we address sustainability in terms of the precautionalry, meaning with the proven. That way there are no insurmountable surprises; ploughing on hoping for solutions in retro, is statistically russian roulette.

Time-wise, Peak Oil trumps Climate Change, so that's your primary backdrop, and your timeline.

So we can expect Fonterra-style mega-farms to go the way off the dodo, over say a couple of decades. With them, the just-in-time food system (flying in out-of-season stuff from another hemisphere, etc) will be in trouble. Gives us two problems: Feeding the urbanites (we haven't the lead-time to shift them) with a compromised supermarket system, and producing food from the oil-tilled, oil-fertilised, oil-irrigated land.

One thing is for sure, there will be more farm labour, and labourers, per acre than when oil was abundant. Where will they come from? By default, the city. Where will they be housed? Existing towns/villages obviously, in the first instance. Then?

Tightly-packed urban sprawl won't do it, nor will energy-hungry houses. There has to be room to grow food locally - by allotment, commons or yard-size ordinances - and the houses have to be able to be operated in an oil-deprived world.

It's not  Amish, nor cave-dwelling. It is, though, controls on urban expansions - gated mushrooms of ticky-tacky facing each other rather than the sun, won't do. I suspect your prayers will be answered: farmland prices will tumble, unfortunately at the same time as everyone else's income potential does too.

I've never wavered from that opinion, it's you who failed to understand it, due to priorly-held prejudices.


Still incoherent, sorry, and obviously you failing to understand me:

".......It's not  Amish, nor cave-dwelling. It is, though, controls on urban expansions - gated mushrooms of ticky-tacky facing each other rather than the sun, won't do. I suspect your prayers will be answered: farmland prices will tumble, unfortunately at the same time as everyone else's income potential does too......"

It "is" "controls on urban expansions"........?

My wish is for farmland prices to tumble......?

For the zillionth time, how cheap farmland is, does not make a jot of difference to the price of "housing" of ANY kind, behind a dam urban growth boundary........!!!!!!!!!

What a WASTE OF TIME it is trying to teach you anything.

For the zillionth time, nothing is helped - certainly not future proofing anyone's lifestyle, or future proofing the economy - by sucking MOST of the truly created wealth OUT of it in over-payments for every single piece of urban property. You might as well make purchases of wind turbines and solar panels compulsory, only charge everyone ten times the price they should be, hence ensuring that the potentially much higher uptake of them is NOT realised, along with the potentiall much higher uptake of everything else that households could have spent their money on.

I was extremely pleased that your fellow doomsayer Steven suddenly "got it" recently about the urban land supply racket after months of my patient explanations. But perhaps you are never going to.

".....I can see this coming a mile away...."

Me too. Furthermore, I say that urban growth containment is a significant cause of economic reversal. It reduces discretionary income and spending. It reduces productivity. It raises workforce cost pressures and other business costs. It reduces social mobility and increases inequality. It distorts investment away from productive capital.

There is simply no economy in the world that gets away with this stuff. Britain is a classic illustration, Maggie Thatcher failed to tackle the urban growth containment and the councils, so all her other reforms were not going to succeed over the long term.

The latest posting from the excellent "The Unconventional Economist" is on this very subject:

A new Report from the LSE on the UK economy, entitled "Urban Planning and Economic Performance".

Timely and Apropos.

Downturn puts 38,000 jobs at risk
By ESTHER HARWARD - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 20 April 2008

Another 38,000 people could lose their jobs in the next couple of years as the economy slows, and people working in real estate, housing construction, retailing, manufacturing and business services are most at risk.

ANZ National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie said these sectors had grown off the property-market boom and accounted for 60% of new jobs over the past five years.


"New Zealand's change in immigration policy dates back to the early 1990s when the gap in productivity with other nations became pronounced between the years 1970 and 1990. Higher immigration was intended to fix the problem.

In its report, the SWG claims the move backfired."

"The policy choice that increased immigration, given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve - looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration.''


Hugh, Phill Best, Owen promote growth through those sectors listed above, but this is just a ponzi scheme, and experience shows that the exsisting population suffer a lower quality of life as their cities accomodate new arrivals.


Why is loading the younger generation up with a few tens of billions of dollars of excess mortgage debt over several years, a good idea? Why not consider, for once, that THIS, not the alleged "run-out of land/resources" that any fool can see is not true, is actually the real source of our problem?

"Property bubbles" underly every busted economy in the world today, and hysterical "containment of urban growth" policies underly those property bubbles. Although in China and India it is straight out official corruption, not "urban growth containment".

The only part of the world economy not in trouble today, is the part with no urban growth containment policies, no property bubble, no crash, low housing costs, high discretionary spending, low debt, rapid payoff of mortgages, a sound level of investment in productive activities, high levels of opportunity, low workforce cost pressures, etc etc.

It is an extremely odd approach to "future proofing" and increasing the resilience of your economy, by creating new burdens of costs for which absolutely nothing is obtained. "Bubble values" are just that - $200,000 for nothing - when you buy your first home. I have said again and again on this forum, that it will be the cities whose people can still afford V8's and SUV's, who still have the most "fat" to trim as resource prices rise. That means heartland and Southern USA will survive the demise of all the eco-hysteria dystopias - think about this.

All fine and dandy PB
It is possible, right now, for "people" to buy a cheap block of land, (dirt cheap down Turangi way) away from the main metropolitan areas, and build a $50,000 PDK style house, all very affordable, but the problem is, (young?) "people" (and immigrants) dont want to go there. How do you solve that?

Talk NZ. Forget the US, India, China 

There are always farms for sale somewhere.

The going price is usually around $4000 per acre, anywhere, whether in the boondocks (like Turangi) or near the urban fringe of a city.

IF a developer is allowed to build houses on ANY farm he buys WITHOUT triggering off expectations of capital gains on the part of the farming seller, this keeps a lid on the prices of ALL land sold for urban development.

There is a kind of volatile tipping point that makes this an "all or nothing" question.

IF you "constrain urban growth", you GUARANTEE that the sellers of land for urban development WILL "hold out" for hundreds of thousand of dollars per acre for it, because they have been handed a near-monopoly position.

The recent Productivity Commission inquiry correctly identifies the inadequacy of an alleged "20 years supply" in a spatial plan like Auckland's - the monopoly effect still kicks in. To avoid the monopoly effect, it is necessary to draw a growth boundary so loose that you might as well not have one at all.

But the absence of growth boundaries in low land price cities in the USA, does not mean that all development is only done on land that farmers have sold for $4000 an acre miles and miles away from the existing city fringe. What it means, is that because developers CAN do this, farmers nearer the city are realistic, and might push their luck and ask for $8,000 per acre. There is NO chance of any of them asking six figures per acre. Even their long-built-up areas do not have land this expensive; as the low price of fringe land keeps the price of all land low.

The scale of urban growth relative to the existing size of the city, means that "20 years growth" might literally be contained within a 1 km radius beyond the existing fringe. Most of Wellington's growth for the last 20 years has been provided by what used to be just one farm. Therefore, the extra distances involved in developers "leapfrogging" hold-out land owners  - if they have to - are small.

Some "holding out" by land owners does occur even under totally free market conditions, so that "splatter" or "fragmented" development is common. However, there are NUMEROUS academic studies that find that "splatter" development followed by later in-fill, is MORE EFFICIENT for land use long term, than mandating incremental development. This is because it is clearer later on, with some development having put some of the land to use already, WHAT is the "best" use for the gaps. "Holdout" land owners quite fairly do expect a reasonable capital gain for holding out to this point. Even so, the capital gain is nowhere NEAR as big as the gain handed instantly to land owners when a tight UGB is redrawn.


JH: out of all the posts on this thread your comment "growth, as promoted by Hugh, Phill Best, Owen, through those sectors listed above, is just a ponzi scheme, and experience shows that the exsisting population suffer a lower quality of life as their cities accomodate new arrivals" is the one worthwhile comment so far.  

What a pack of ruinous idiots we have to cope with. "The" ponzi scheme is the one involving existing urban land, contained behind a racket-enabling growth boundary.

How many zillion times do we have to explain this?

It would be impossible to do so much new development with fair free market priced land, that we could remotely match the approximately $200 billion dollar bubble inflation of NZ's "stock of urban land" that we are currently lumbered with.

Land supply is land serviced by infrastructure. Developer contribitions (pruchaser) pay for some of the infrastructure but the rest is paid for by the taxpayers of our low wage economy.

In addition it is the world market that is driving expectations as noone expects Kiwi incomes to shoot up any time soon; it is the valiant efforts of Harcourts (and Baileys) in Shanghai etc, etc. We have/had the second highest immigration rates in the OECD and Gareth Morgan reports that there has been "intense lobbying".


From Green Belt under siege.


Critics maintain that the uptake rate is low only because the supply of available lots is so small.

Owners who could subdivide may choose not to, for many reasons. Some are land-banking and happy to continue to ride the surging property wave.

Real estate agents say many are migrant investors who spend most of the year overseas.

But most are former city slickers too in love with their lot to consider selling or subdividing."

So, instead of "paying for infrastructure", which costs a few thousand dollars per new home, we pay $200,000 too much for every home changing hands on the market, wherever it is located? For "nothing"?

Really, really, really SMART.

It is all these hundreds of thousands of dollars changing hands for "nothing" that is leaving society unable to pay for new roofs, piles, plumbing, insulation, carpet, new shoes for the kids, etc etc etc - besides "infrastructure".


Clarification is complete.

There ARE two separate development programmes going on.

One is the development of low cost accelerometers intended to record what has happened during a recent earthquake and its aftershocks. These are intended to advance our knowledge of both seismology and earthquake resistant design.

The other is the ongoing development of base isolation systems and lead rubber bearings which are devices designed to enable buildings to resist earthquake and hence reduce damage and loss of life.

Understandably there has been some confusion between the two and their different functions and current development projects.




For those still anxious about AGW there is major new development in the basic physics of our planet'c climate. Makes a good holiday read but might test your calculus.

Not as long as the Scroll margin indicates. It's the hundreds of comments pouring in. The physicists appear happy to see physics back in the debate as opposed to complex modelling.

Go to:

Hugh......CCC is just a tiny version of NZ.....hence the disfunctional aint going to change any time soon no matter how many elections you have. Solutions can only come out of central govt that allows the regional /local game to operate the way it does in the name of democracy...hence the salary bonanza....and the rates theft....

So either govt recognises the shite for what it is and moves to modify laws to prevent the infighting and rates theft by way of ceilings on rate rises and on salaries...or the people vote with their capital...they leave.

Disfunctional on two levels Hugh...both an inability to function...and a desire to increase the council splurge...same as central govt.

The chch problem is set to bash ratepayers for decades with rates way higher than in other centres. On top of that you have the CCC splurge factor. Evidenced by the salary bloating decision. They simply don't give a bloody stuff about ratepayers.

This is where the people importing capital gains mining developers  live  (not in cookie cutter land or honey combed density):

A Christchurch property developer has permission to build a large house overlooking Akaroa Harbour after a 13-year battle.

After an Environment Court mediation, Graham Heazlewood's Pacific Investment Trust has been given approval to build a two-level house, with earth mounds and fencing, on a 50-hectare property at Tikao Pt, opposite Akaroa.

My God, I thought 1.30am was bad.  We just had another massive one.

This is flipping ridiculous.  How many big quakes can we have?

Are there precedents for this except in far flung EQ hotspots?

Can't find any data yet. The 1:30am was 5.1, this one felt much bigger and longer. I can't believe it. It was 2010 when we were first woken up in the middle of the night by this huge, terrifying one and we've been up twice this night with more large ones in 2012. Seriously wondering if it's ever gonna end. Not fun for anyone, and the kids aren't impressed either.

Oh, happy New Year to you all btw.

Geonet must be asleep.  Certainly bigger than the 5.1 at 1.30 with at least 3 immediate aftershocks according to the quake drums.  Felt much bigger than the 5 USGS say it was.

My pick is a M5.5+...

Confirmed M5.5.

Absolutely massive shaking.

Recorded 18-20% of gravity shaking in Lyttleton, Cashmere, Aranui, Avondale.

This is potential liquefaction stuff.  That's more shaking than Sept 4 in the east!

What is going on?  These small quakes quite a distance away are producing massive shaking!

Chris - Geonet is in fact asleep. Here the data from another international site:

which shows more evidence, as I mentioned earlier that the earthquakes between the “Coast of Honshu” in Japan and the ones in Christchurch are related.

In the meantime geonet woke up:

Got friends who were dead set on staying and seeing the rebuild through, txting this morning that they're talking about leaving. They're probably not an isolated case.

They're in Bishopdale, in the west. But completely over it (and their house needs lifting as foundations have moved and house is on a lean). They're still waiting to see a cent from EQ/insurer. She said to me this morning that "being here feels like being on a sinking ship"... We moved to Oxford early 2010 but used to be in Hillsborough in the east for 7 years - doesn't sound great there.

In Rangiora we got a good ole shake up , too ..... but no damage to report .......

..... good solid ground out here .

Which makes me wonder if a suitable response is to construct a comprehensive plan for satellite towns such as Rangiora / Woodend  / Oxford / Rolleston-Burnham  & Darfield to massively expand ...... taking the pressure off land supply in the city..... 


I agree Gummy. Maybe our idea of starting an "Oxford technopole" wasn't such a silly idea. Could call it Oxfordopolis :)

Re the friends I mentioned above who are thinking about leaving, the guy is a former colleague of mine and now also a self-employed software consultant. I'm sure there are quite a few others out there who are not farmers but would rather be working their high-tech job from a safe office out in the country than Chch.

exactly, an idea I have floated for a long time....a network of expanded satellite towns

a big question I have is where all the potential ChCh emmigres will go? I guess scattered all over the place. Its not like employment opportunities are huge around the country at the mo, and Aus is certainly slowing

Having our population spread out, is just sensible disaster mitigation in "the shaky isles".

Compact cities and light rail public transport are like medieval religious shibboleths that everything else is apparently to be sacrificed to. The enviro Taleban hates human population period, so setting up maximum possible disaster death tolls is just a consistent part of their program.

Bob Parker was interviewed on Radio National this morning ...... and I must say , I was most impressed with his skill at ducking the direct question regarding the council's earthquake response  ...... " are you culpable , this has happened on your watch " .......

..... he was the consumate professional politician ..... tacit agreement , but without taking any personal nor collective blame ....

.. could be the nation's P.M. one day , our Bob !

I think everyone is getting a little too fired up over the personalities.

What will a new election do in reality? Bring in Lianne Dalziel, can't see that changing much. Would Jim Anderton have done any better? The reality is they are all working inside a framework that is nationwide and is a legacy of every past decision ever made.

Not sure how it can be expected to be turned around quickly. I do thank those like Hugh who are endeavouring to make the salient and necessary points to govt and council.

It's best to keep the debate factual on the policy issues rather than whip it into personality-blame game, which I think is featured too much in The Press.

The current rash of movement will calm down but greater pressure is now being applied elsewhere and at some point in the future the next weakest zone will spit the dummy. The pressure will never cease....!

Maybe Michael Moore can do an exposé on this debacle? Call it ‘Bowling over Christchurch’.

Asterix calls for the Soothsayers - 

With more strong earthquakes rattling the city today, Christchurch mayor Bob Parker has called for an urgent briefing from GNS Science seismologists.

Where others - particularly Councillors, and no doubt Council staff - are doing the best they can in times that are trying to them personally, Hughey-boy can only think of putting the knife in.





"playtime" I think you are dreaming, not that if my recent experience with wellington CC is anything to go by it doesnt need a clean out...


Have you looked up Luddite?

"In modern usage, "Luddite" is a term describing those opposed to new technologies in general."

Where does PDK object to new REAL technologies?  and not those in the fantasy world of PhilBest and the likes of yourself taht will "save us"?

Considering the energy efficiency of his house, its low build cost and its use of interesting materials I fail to see why such a term is leveled.....but then your logic never has been too hot has it....



To be fair Hugh's been saying the same thing about planning since the early 90s - as he points out. 

The RMA (1991) is now 20 years old - and it's probably been amended on more occasions than its years since enactment.  It (accompanied by all the case law) and the multiple of other disaster, heritage, energy, transport and other environment-related legislation makes for a real dog's breakfast. 

There is no coordinated legislative policy intent or vision about how to get where we need to go in an integrated, holistic sense/manner.

Neither are TPTB prepared to admit BAU is dead - I get the feeling they would rather  physical circumstances overtake us (i.e. we get past he point of no return) - allowing for a more elite, authoritarian approach to governance. 

The Mayor can't change that, the Councilors can't change that, the non-elected staff can't change that, Roger Sutton can't change that... only John Key can change that - and he didn't - and we re-elected him.

The RMA is past its use-by date.  Current ways of working and thinking are past their use-by date.  The world (according to everyone but John Key) has changed.

Society at large in CHCH is perhaps going to get to boiling point before the rest of us. 





Kate, I think the problem with RMA issues, is that it is off most people's radar, and the media do a very poor job connecting the dots from cause to effect.

Owen McShane tells a story about a young solo mum who had lost her job as office lady at a firm of painters who were closing down. Owen commented to her, "It's a pity that that big proposed development out west of town didn't get permission, it would have kept a lot of tradesmen busy for years". The solo mum went off her rocker, "I opposed that, it would have ruined the view, ruined the environment, yadda, yadda...."

Owen says, if I remember rightly, "I just looked and looked at her until she went 'Oh....I see what you mean'......."

Great story, Philbest!

Therein lies the big problem. We (in the west, generally speaking) are far too precious about "visual amenity" and the like. I'm not saying thats unimportant. But its just one factor that should be considered.

There is often so little consideration of the "bigger picture". Cliched term, for sure, but it will do. 

Another story from a couple of years ago. That big new mixed use, higer density scheme was proposed around Orakei. All the NIMBYists were out in full force. And there opposing it was one of the Green Party MPs Keith Locke, arguing against it on landscape / visual amenity and coastal environment grounds.  Now, one would have thought a high density, mixed use development built around a railway station close to the city might have actually got support from a greenie, given their opposition to urban sprawl. But oh no.....Because it was near the coast and might disturb the coastal environment. Well, the coast is one of the few areas where apartment development is halfway feasible, due to the amenities and views on offer. Dream on if you think thousands of apartments will be built around Glen Innes, Onehunga etc.   

I'm not really sure how such attitudes can be meaningfully changed.

having lived in Japan in the mid 90s, the attitudes are so very different. Of course, there are some particularly noxious developments that are heavily opposed, and rightfully so. But so much development occurs there that, if not architecturally beautful, is at worse mediocre. Arguably Japan might go too far in the opposite direction, but not much too far.

I think the problem is that we in the west have a prioritisation probelm. Certainly, there are some wonderful natural and man made districts within cities and on the edges of cities that should be preserved / protected. But to me we get precious about so much that isn't "sacred".

I used to drive between Auckland and Orewa a lot a few years ago. I alway drove past Dairy Flat and wondered why much if not all of that land could not become urban. Sure, its pleasant enough visually, but nothing about it screams out protection at all costs, and you can drive over most of NZ and see that kind of scenery. But bet you me, if it was proposed to be rezoned urban, thee would be an uproar.

One day in the west we might understand that for our economies and societies to continue to prosper, there needs to be a bit more of a trade off. Maybe during the exceptional "boom years" of 2001 - 2007 we could almost afford to be so protectionist. Not anymore. Such protectionism (and I'm talking about urban environments just as much as rural and natural) is a luxury the country can no longer afford.       

I love NZ but fear so much for its future from what I see at present as a slow downward spiral of decline, without the necessary urgency required. 

Things are fundamentally broke.











Matt in Auck - you can't have a 'trade off' or a 'balance'.

That's stupid. The Mayor of Waitaki, one Familton, thinks (if that's the wortd for it) like that.

What happens is that you agree on a 'boundary, the development happens to that 'boundary', then the 'developers want more. Every time.

So you set another boundary? Anmother trade-off? Then essentially, you're not setting anything.

This is the myopic nonsense that is the growth-forever brigade. They want to expand, and do so in a percentage manner (it happens especially when you expand radially).

On the one hand, they say there are no limits. On the other, they complain bitterly that there are. If there were indood no limits, they could develop indefinitely on a 1/4 acre, even as Gonzo's boyos chiselled away underneath.

Sooner ot later, development had to stop. Sooner or later, growth based on the physical had to stop. You had enough posted here to know better than waffle on about 'balance'.

Why can't folk live within a budget? Money, energy, space, consumption? Looking at the 'growth' protagonists, it seems to me that it's insecurity behind most of it. The need to be their car, their house, toys, status symbols. It might be better for the planet is we subsidised them some councelling.




I tend to think that characterisation arguments are fatuous myself. The growth brigade are driven by much more tangable motivations than 'insecurity' or 'status'. The fundamental issue is that in a ponzi scheme, as much of the world economy has become, can only remain solvent with perpetual growth. While it is not an imperative that the economy resemble a ponzi-scheme, the modern economy of many countries including New Zealand does to various extents. Especially in terms of debt to productivity (even with productivity measured via GDP).

Of course urban planning has only so much influence on the ponzi scheme investment model. It is possible to re-encourage an un-sustainable trend which is mostly what people like Hugh think is an imperative. But of course every trend has to change direction at some point  for any of physical, political or financial reasons. The mistake Hugh makes is to think that by surpressing prices with over-supply you can have a sustainable trend. So by perpetually creating an over-supply of property you can have a sustainable price level. That might break through a limit of a financial trend, but eventually you will run into a physical or political limit.

The obvious mistake which certain schools of economic thought make here is to conflate sustainable, with non-inflationary price levels. Thinking that if the price level remains fixed then this indicates a sustainable state (or equilibrium state in economics parlance). In fact there is a general assumption that the economy is in an equilibrium state (thats a stated assumption) or trending towards an equilibrium state. Frankly the existance of stated 'externalities' which are explicitely not accounted in these prices (pollution, debt levels, resource depletion) should be enough to show that non-inflationary prices don't need to be stable or sustainable.

Where John Shimkus (who hoped to enhance his chances of becoming chairman of the house energy committee) claimed, god promised Noah there would not be another flood (he appears to have been both serious and sober at the time). Various people on this forum appear to be claiming that there could not be any financial crisis because Adam Smith promised Alan Greenspan that a de-regulated market would price in all the externalities. At least Alan Greenspan is clever enough to admit when he was wrong. 


Nic, some of us have been pointing out for years, that "removing restrictions" on urban development does NOT of itself mean that "all the land in the country will get houses built on it". All it means, is that population growth will be catered for on slightly larger sections per home, at a FRACTION of the price per section.

NZ is down around 0.6% urbanised, and we couldn't increase that to 1.0% in 100 years unless we are going to allow mass immigration. It has taken 1.5 centuries to urbanise the 0.6%, and for most of that time, there were no limits on development.

Powerdownkiwi is a hysterical raving lunatic. Japan has 130 million people in less space than NZ. The Netherlands has 14 million people in land the size of Canterbury.

And raving lunatics assure us that it is justified to constrain urban growth, and impose a cost of perhaps $200,000 per first home buyer, to "save the country from being paved over"?

This is worse than raving lunacy, it is cruel dictatorial stuff, and based on lies every bit as much as cruel dictatorial systems always are. And Powerdownkiwi has the insensitivity to rant on about "living within means" - tell that to young couples with 70% of their income going on mortgage payments.

In terms of raving and lunatics, I think being associated with the Republican end of the opinion puts you closer to the crazy element. This should be shown pretty clearly by the John Shimkus quote above, but climate change denial is the opinion associated with these politicians. Another example, Michel Bachman has said that yes, climate change might be happening but that its gods punishment for allowing gay marriage. I don't think these are even views most christians would want to associate their religion with.

What is wrong with your entire position is the need to structure the population around the economy, and obviously the economy should be structured around the population. If that means changing the rules of the property market then that is justified. But the underlying rational must be that the economy is structured through democratic desires. Not the desire that we need to grow, in order to boost the economy.

Anyway your mostly made up facts are clearly irrelivant, urban planning has a negligable effect on house prices. This is more than clear because of the massive correlation between house prices, debt and monetary policy.


For the mathematically un-initiated R squared is a measure of correlation, 0 is low, 1 is maximum, -1 is inverse maximum.

Anything espoused by Hugh could not do stuff all to stabilise housing prices. Though it could do some damage to other goals of the various planning regulations. I was recently in Dubai and was struck by the amount of space each building occupies. Almost all have a large car parking area built into their site, something you would never see in Auckland city centre for example. This has not stopped their sky rocketing city prices and many of the workers there being totally unable to afford to own any property. It also didn't prevent a massive crash in their property values and economy a couple of years ago. Good luck with your new religion.



One of the real failings as I see it of the RMA is it's failure to adequately address compensation issues for capital loss affected parties (and loss of view or sunshine have a real capital loss associated with them as well).  There are a whole lotta people in a valley near the new Makara windfarm who have lost thousands on the value of their private property as a result of the windfarm's construction.  The problem is the word "mitigate" in the RMA - if you can't avoid loss to others' private interests - then you should have to remedy to the satisfaction of the affected.  If adequate compensation was required by law, lotsa NIMBYs who have legitimate, real losses would welcome new development. 

Presently many people have their own property rights impacted 'in the public interest'.

I've found most NIMBYs have a legitimate claim, BANANAs are another matter. 

I am interested in any comments re following letter - most particularly the inclusion of right to liberty (at present narrowly defined and needs to include, in my view, the individual right to pursue one's economic and social development) in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 currently part of a key government constitutional review. In my view, this is a way to challenge bureaucratic red tape in court. You may be aware the Key government had to assume higher executive power and through 'orders in council' had to cut through the red tape of some 22 statutes to get business up and running after the first earthquake.

PS. made some small changes to following for clarity.

Global, ethical human rights culture to rebuild Christchurch.

Anthony Ravlich
Human Rights Council (New Zealand)
Ph: (0064) (09) 940 9658

Letter to Emma Twaddell, Chairperson, St Alban's Community Centre.

Dear Emma,

Thanks, I saw the article I sent on your website (New Zealand too toxic for the young and NZ stands for human rights in name only, St Alban’s news – December issue, ).

You may also be interested in the letter below (Fresh vision but no time for games – human rights reason must prevail, ) and also the following.

In my book I will show how the ethical approach to human rights (see description below) enables people to help themselves rather than remaining in a state of dependency (although necessary at times).

The relevance of the ethical approach to human rights may not be entirely clear to the residents at present as they are having to deal with so many pressing immediate issues.

However, it is important to be aware of the human rights omissions in the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 should you find that human rights are acting contrary to the wishes of the residents.

Although this human rights dimension may also not be veryclear – people are constantly distracted by being told it is the money rather than State ideology yet when one looks at other countries i.e. communist, socialist, Islamic etc. it is much more clear. However, the bill does strongly priviledge big business (i.e. State/Corporate partnership) hence the 'it is all about money view'.

Most people simply assume 'the rules of the game' are fair so focus on making money and a life. It is when things start to go drastically wrong (which is my view) that the ideology (or political perspective of human rights) needs to be investigated.

In my view, the omitted human rights mean that helping oneself is often extremely difficult in NZ as evidenced by the mass exodus from the country.

And, in my experience, people are being encouraged to be dependent on the State (and, initially, at least, again in my experience, few ever want this for themselves). While many benefits are at the level of survival only much anecdotal evidence indicates that those who struggle to achieve are being penalized.

This suppression of hope is, in my view, to rid the country of ‘unsafe ‘independent minds who might challenge the hegemony of the domestic and global bureaucratic elites.

The dream of a new city could be achieved within a self-help, entrepreneurial /global ethical human rights culture which would seem to me to be essential if Christchurch is to take advantage of all opportunities to progress. I visited Christchurch twice - after both the major earthquakes - as I was concerned that rebuiding may be stifled by bureaucratic red tape.

Affirmative action (permitted by the bill of rights) should apply, where it is meant to apply, to the most disadvantaged (including those small economic and social entrepreneurs who could best help the rest) rather than those Maori and women higher on the social scale as is the case at present. Consequently, many could be helped to help themselves.

This approach can be extended to the whole country and even the world (see below).

The ethical approach would require all the omitted human rights to be included in the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 emphasizing ensuring all had, at the very least, their core minimums of such rights. Amnesty International (US) want the inclusion of all the omitted rights while the NZ Human Rights Commission want the inclusion of three: equal rights, children's rights and possibly non-discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth).

As I state in my previous letter to you  if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cannot deliver on, at the very least, the core minimum of these rights for people (the ethical approach) then it serves no purpose except as a political weapon for elite purposes i.e. to disadvantage other sectors of society such as the children (some authoritarian regimes would not even done this!).

(I will describe non-retrogression with respect to higher levels of human rights (or where given the status of legal rights) already earned by a particular State in my book)

So it would be important, for example, to have the individual right to economic and social development (liberty - broadly defined) to be included in the bill of rights so bureaucratic red tape can be challenged in court. While ordinary statute trumps the bill of rights the government may not be able to cover everything.

Also, non-discrimination on the prohibited ground of social class (and also non-discrimination with respect to birth, i.e. descent which includes Whakapapa) should also be included.

This will enable a voice for the marginalized by ensuring the mainstream media does not discriminate in this way and also that, for example, the children of beneficiaries are not excluded from the in-work tax credit for working families – children are not responsible for who their parents are.

Children’s rights should also be included – at present, children do not even have the human right to a ‘name’. As also should many other omissions such as the right to privacy, family rights, economic, social and cultural rights etc.

The inclusion of the above grounds of discrimination would also ensure that no one is privileged according to social status at birth or descent (e.g. via covert discrimination such as the ‘old boys and girls network’) so the hardship would be shared i.e. there are no free-loaders. Anecdotal evidence suggests there are many being paid for doing very little.

Those who have experienced real hardship in life realize there is ‘no free lunch’ but one must have choices/opportunities so the core minimum human rights are absolutely necessary – to be ensured within an ‘immediate time frame’ – higher levels have to be earned and are likely to involve progressive achievement.

This is where the international political/human rights establishment are going wrong, in my view, by making climate change the priority whereas I consider it should be the children. The latter’s needs are immediate (and not everyone can afford a nanny) while the former usually require a plan to be achieved progressively.

The inclusion of all the omitted human rights in the bill of rights would benefit the whole country by enabling progress to take place throughout the country where there are huge numbers on benefits and the children in the rest of the country also need a future.

This would help ensure Christchurch and the rest of the country are in sync and therefore supporting each other will be in all our interests. This could help ensure that Christchurch residents do not feel isolated (or are deliberately isolated!) from the rest of the country.

I also hope other countries will also adopt the ethical approach.


" would be important, for example, to have the individual right to economic and social development (liberty - broadly defined) to be included in the bill of rights so bureaucratic red tape can be challenged in court......."

Good point.

Thanks, JH - those are great sites. The authors of a lot of it are already well known to me, I have learned a lot from them.

I am already among the enlightened, it is probably a few others on this thread that need to immerse themselves in those reading recommendations for a few days. Especially people with utopian ideas about rebuilding ChCh as a compact city based around a light rail public transport system.

Hugh - are you invited to BPs conference with the geologists?    be interesting to hear how it goes from a laymans point of view

Hugh - call it - the political and bureaucratic liquefaction process of Christchurch.

Speaking of liquefaction, it won't end anytime soon if these quakes keep coming. Been woken up by a 5.2 last night, yet again, and just jumped off my seat a few minutes ago with another one. Hubby asked me last night at what point I thought we should leave... 

Bureaucracy, corruption and greed causes humanitarian NZcatastrophe.

Over the last weeks we had many visitors in our ArtGallery talking about “Breaking Point”

Stress, angst seems to be  growing factors over emotional and financial losses.

I personally think the councils/ government needs to come up with plan D. This is far bigger then anyone’s guess – a national humanitarian catastrophe. I’m just not sure as long as greed, corruption and bureaucracy play the game, if any plans actually work. It seems to me honest, hard working and experienced spirits like D. Shearer will finally do a great job.

 Here an idea for a start.

....and don't rebuild Christchurch.


Hugh I think you have said it all here - your conclusion that the only solution is a mid term election is bang on - only thing I could possibly add is would you consider standing as Mayor of Christchurch - you have the skills, you have the contacts and you have the stamina to see Christchurch rebuilt?   what would it take to have you put you hand up for it?


Hugh I think you have said it all here - your conclusion that the only solution is a mid term election is bang on - only thing I could possibly add is would you consider standing as Mayor of Christchurch - you have the skills, you have the contacts and you have the stamina to see Christchurch rebuilt?   what would it take to have you put you hand up for it?


Kate - just because Hughey has been complaining about the RMA since 1990, doesn't make him right.

What it says is that either he is pushing a particular barrow (and the RMA is slowing his desired rate of progress - which it should if it is doing it's job) or that he hasn't had an original thought in a long time.

Given his ignorant/arrogant dismissal of Professor Donella Meadows and Professor Jay Forrester of MIT, as 'clowns' (with no supporting data, rebuttal, indeed anything), you'd have to suspect both.

What we have there, is a vested-interest, well outvoted, punching above its relative worth by lobbying. That would be excusable, but this is a society under stress, and needing leadership. The leaders are also human, and need support themselves (t'is far better to reason with, explain patiently to, and convince with logic, than todenigrate/tear down/destroy).

Luckily, the vast majority of voters at all levels don't fall for the nonsense, but there's a more important debate to be had, and we waste time, really, on this old one. We all have to prepare for the future, not the past, and Chch has a clean slate in many ways to do so.

Until the RMA loses  "current economic wellbeing', it can't be seen as long-term sustainable, and long-term unsustainable is not ........... sustainable.

pdk, don't know if you've read Ingolfur Blühdorn  on the 'politics of unsustainability' or the 'era of post-ecologism'.  A quick google found one article in .pdf - but I've read alot of others on the topic.  I particularly like;

Blühdorn, I. & Welsh, I.  (2007). Eco-politics beyond the Paradigm of Sustainability: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda. Environmental Politics, 16(2), 185-205. 

And there's a book of similar title as well.

The big question for me is how we (society) will come to achieve the next paradigm shift, i.e. beyond the politics of unsustainability (or the politics of how to sustain the unsustainable) which as Bluhdorn argues, is where we are at now.

Of paradigm shifts, Kuhn said; paradigm change is closely aligned to perceptual change and "novelty emerges with difficulty, manifested by resistance, against a background provided by expectation” ...

The point is everyone commenting on social/environmental issues - no matter what barrow - is contributing to that Kuhnian condition from which change emerges.  I'd rather the whole of society accepted things were well and truly broken (as do the majority of commentators here) because the worst place for minds to be is in the old incrementalist paradigm (the one JK, and indeed most political/power holders are stuck in) which has no sense of urgency associated with the 'revolution' needed (the paradigmatic one that is :-).