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Safe as houses ? What is a Christchurch house worth now ?

Safe as houses ? What is a Christchurch house worth now ?

Neville BennettBy Neville Bennett

"Jim", my good neighbour has had enough and is moving to Australia.

I went round to see him today, and while we chatted several cars slowed, some stopped to gawp, and two presented themselves as potential buyers. My friend said he was hoping for a bit less than GV. The buyers retreated: their interest was in fire sales.

Jim thinks he may have to rent the house rather than sell it.

That sounds viable. It is a fine 2-story house, rimu weatherboard, slate roof, marvellous plain wooden floors, 4-5  bedrooms in a lovely, squarish, 1,000 square metre section with an excellent solar-heated-swimming pool. The earthquake damage was to the chimneys only. These rimu houses in my locality were built before building codes, but they are as tough as boots.

It is zoned residential but the other side of the block is commercial. I would imagine that, if the plan was changed, it would be eagerly sought as offices. As it is in the zone of the two best girls and boys state school - there could be a good rental demand from families.

Trouble is Jim needs the capital to buy in Queensland. His dilemma is to get a good rental or a fire-sale capital quantity - and convert that into Aussie dollars when the exchange rate is remarkably unfavourable.

I think Jim should sit it out but would not presume to tell him as the packers are coming tomorrow.

Should I do something similar?

My house is similar to Jim’s. His is better quality. My rimu house lacks the same street appeal and does not have a swimming pool (have you ever seen a teenager regularly service a pool?) but has similar amenities.

It was my biggest investment, and I always thought that when the kids left (they still come and go) I could subdivide and build a block of flats too.

My canny hairdresser reckons high grade flats for rich overseas students is the way to go. Finding rich overseas students might be a bit difficult now, and for sometime, although the University is barely damaged. The quake might have dented the perception of Christchurch as a safe city.

Safe as Houses

I did regard my house as a good investment. I bought it because I regard Riccarton as the best place to live. Within a radius of three blocks I can walk my dog to Hagley Park, Harakeke Park and Riccarton Bush. The Mall is three blocks away. Every service is adjacent but I think I will be locked in for a long time until the market operates again.

The earthquakes have broken a bearer across the piles in my house. The effect is hardly noticeable except the floor in the dining room is uneven, and there are faint cracks in the walls. But Fletcher’s have surveyed the house and said it would be best if we briefly evacuated the house while the repairs were being done. We do not have a date but have started sorting stuff.

We thought we might take some to a relative’s, but the insurance company declined as the relative lacks an alarm. I imagine that buyers would not want a house in which builders might come in for a week, sometime in the years ahead.

In the longer run, I expect my locality to maintain a good premium over other areas. It is in the West; liquefaction is very localised to stream-sides and until the quake, and it was the most progressive part of the city. Peak oil will enhance its appeal for it has excellent bus services and is hub for cycles.

But will Christchurch recover? There has been a mass exodus and many say they will never return.

Much will depend on the quakes. If they recede, confidence will return.

But I am not confident that another big one will not occur. We do not have the knowledge of the subsurface that miners and drillers can provide. It would not be wise to rebuild until we have better geological information.

Christchurch will recover.

There is a massive investment in infrastructure and facilities like the port, airport, hospitals, the University, commercial, industrial and housing stock. It has real functions of servicing its huge, thriving hinterland. But it will take a long time to regain its 2011 output.

I think the central area should be rebuilt on sustainable principles: low rise buildings, often around squares with grass and trees in the centre, separate bike routes and very pedestrian friendly. It would remain a business and administrative centre, with top-end retail, and excellent cafes.

It would still attract tourist and language students. I would make the cathedral safe, but not restore it. Our energy should go into a new vibrant city.

I am lucky that my house has suffered little damage but I have no way of valuing it as the market has collapsed.

How safe are houses?


* Neville Bennett was a long-time Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Canterbury, where he taught since 1971. His focus is economic history and markets. He is also a columnist for the NBR.

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Your paragraph, "There is a massive investment in infrastructure and facilities ..... But it will take a long time to regain its 2011 output." implies it, but fails to mention the most important driver of any future Christchurch has - jobs. Will those who relocate their businesses to battle-on now, return after whatever time it takes to rebuild? Will those that 'go to the wall' today because of all of this, stay to try to re-establish later? Will the current ,and soon-to-be-made, unemployed stick around with their labour? I'm doubtful. What jobs are there going to be left in a reconstituted Christchurch after whatever building work has come and gone - a city that has already been hollowed out by decades of political and economic interference in its businesses?

I acknowledge that I did not say enough about jobs. There is a great increase in unemployment, and getting business going again will be difficult as preimises and markets are lost, skilled people leave etc

Many of these people seem to have purchased a house as more of an investment, rather than what it is, and that is a shelter. House prices go up and down. I can't see house prices recovering for quite some time in chch, as I can see many people having to leave for work and others will leave becuase they don't want to have to cope with it all, so I can't see the demand being there. Also many buyers may see that houses will have unknown, unseen damage to them when many will be fine.

Neville, I live in Hawkes bay. We  have a fully furnished cottage on the property, its warm and has great views, we are 5 minutes from The Tuki Tuki river which is fishing unbelievably well this year, just full of fish. I had a friend staying and he got sick of it.

Its yours if you want a break.

Thank very much Andrew. I must decline as I am too stressed to take a break at present: trying to get someone to put in jacks near bearer etc. Saturdays quake lifted my driveway about 2cm and added cracks in house.

If you get stuck, Neville, give us a yodel.


I/m same as you Neville, our village just out of CHC was untouched this time , but mothers and sisters hosues were not so lucky (I have a house full at the moment). I managed to get into CBD yesterday and really it is a total mess, every road/ building has serious damage as do most eastern areas of CHC. With so many people leaving, can't blame them if children's school has gone along with there house and many businesses will be in the same boat then they see no future here for time being. The rebuild will be long and unless outside help brought in (from other countries) be slow, so it will be a long time for some of these houses to be fixed through insurance (talk of 5 plus years already) so what you will see is a property market like we have never been seen before in the models used now. If the JOBS go then CHC be in serious trouble, for the time being the corporates are sticking it out , if they start to downsize and leave then not sure how much interest there will be in the property market in CHC, a concern thats for sure given that for many it is our biggest investment.

Neville - a home is a home. Thinking of it as an investment, is what has gotten us into this jam in the first place. You're 'richer' than half the folk on the planet - cracked bearer or not. Bulldust aside - I could fix that in a short morning with a long coffee break. It's the attitude that thinks of them as 'investments', that outlaws you doing it yourself now. For nothing. A society hoist with it's own petard.

Your idea of flats, investment and income, still fails to understand that energy actually drives wealth. So the ability of tenants to pay, has been capped and will then reduce - exponentially. Same with payments for our exports - the buyers will also be energy-handicapped, therefore handicapped in their ability to generate wealth. Few get this.

There are cities and towns out of desire/fashion, but within them, things are relative. I'd trade for a better site in solar-gain terms, or vegie-growing terms, or down-size for maintenance reasons - but otherwise? Why move?

You're still in one of the most underpopulated (resource-per-head rich) countries in the world, nicest people, great (relative) freedoms and cultural options. What's that worth?

The CBD you have spot-on. The writing was on the wall for CBD's anyway. Whitcoulls is a microcosm of the move to direct sales, and working from home with skype and broadband and escalating transport costs, makes entire sense. Make it a nice, shadowless, lowrise, cafe-catering, pond and park scape.

Peak oil always meant that folk would lose 'wealth' from here on - there's a dwindling ability to underwrite. So that's had a nudge in Chch, but it was always going to happen.  This is a good chance to be ahead of the pack. While there is still discretionary energy around, use it to build something sustainable.

We need pro active help now in Christchurch. When you get down to it support the current winners, be it manufacturing, IT and sectors that export...those that create wealth in Christchurch and makes its contribution to NZ through exports should have  government support to secure where able their business future.

This provides a greater chance of retaining jobs, wealth and a future for the city and make its contribution to the country.

You are talking little more than a hundred key companies. Three representatives were at my house last night, none of us can get anywhere with the powers that be, in most cases we actually don't need financial resources, we need access, legal and  supply channel matters resolved.

We need a plan to retain our best staff, I'm part of a multinational consulting group which brings in substantial revenue to this country. Headoffice is Christchurch. I have our staff who are young and bright seeing the inaction and asking me.... do we have a future being based in Christchurch otherwise can they transfer out....

I have a vision for us to continue here yet we need to see the cooperation and vision for business as a whole here in Christchurch before I can try to sell it to my staff.

People are making their minds up now...we cannot wait any longer.



..and the world is changing fast.

 ..and urgently convert 80% of the Christchurch “Consumption Temples” into family apartments, recreational and educational features, etc.

As if we could relie on "market forces" (= Richmastery types) to build desireable communities.


got a feeling gerry is right,streamline consultation on heritage buildings and get ratepayer input on possible new cbd models.quicker the better!!

My money is with PDK on the prospects for the CBD Neville. It is build on a model that has had its day. The mega stores won't be around for long I bet. I bet Mitre 10 won't in its current form beyond the end of next year, but probably sooner.

But on top of the economics Neville is the poor design. I have just did the Urban Design paper towards my Architecture degree at the end of last year, and to be frank Christchurch was a disaster before the earthquakes. As are all our cities.

The quarter acre section might have worked when birth rates, hence population densities, were up, but they really are unsatisfactory for building communities.

It is no surprise that over my lifetime the breakdown of our society has been accelerating.

We need to start again from scratch and what an opportunity is afforded by Christchurch. People like Murry need to be listened to though.

A couple of starter issues would be to do away with the motor car in our populus areas. Create publicly owned streets and squares where community can happen. Streets and squares based on old models that reverse the figure/ground relationship.  Find out what cognitive console is and that will put you on the right path.

Christchurch has about the right population for a good city, but it needs to be condensed a bit.

There is plenty of studes that show people won't walk more than 200m to work, play, shop or catch the bus Dad was just telling me on Friday that people who try to catch the Birkenhead ferry to Auckland have a consistent behaviour pattern. They drive down and if they can't find a park within 200m of the wharf, they turn around and drive to work. The research already done could have save the council the money.

You can't fight our psychological or physiological preferences, to do so will result in breakdown everytime.

Scarfie, what was the name of the Sydey low rise housing site that you posted a few months back - near the bridge I think. Could this be an approach - (common walls). I think a very resilient approach would be to develop 'local' sewage/water,  communal rain water / solar etc. Take your point about the quarter acre in inner centres - wonder what several quarter acres shared between many might achieve... (used to live in London terrace ... loved it).  

Gee the name of the Sydney one isn't coming to me, but the Danish ones by Jorn Utzon are known as Kingo Houses. 

Yes common walls can work very well, but there don't necessarily have to be rooms adjacent. I did one project at uni last year that was lots of little courtyards. It had a boundary wall which would be shared but a room on one dwelling could easily sit next to a couryard on the other. You certainly wouldn't want living rooms and/or bedrooms adjacent, but it can be done easily enough.

Part of the brief for the above assignment was that the foreground/background plan should make it hard to distinguish between building and space. I started with a checker pattern then  pushed and pulled from there. Technique could extend to two stories, but in my instance I just kept the upper floors slightly to the south of middle.

30-60 people per acre is the target density.

Mixed use is another goal to good urban environments:)

By the way I also used the 200m Principle on my Queens Wharf competition entry. Wharf is 350m long, so who the hell is going to walk that far. Answer for me was a tunnel under the Wharf deck with a travellator inside, which was also used to transport people out to Britomart instead of allowing buses on the wharf.

Thanks, Scarfie. I'd tried kenko and ginko! Poor memory and too many bookmarks.

We've a history of stored rainwater - and pretty flashy sewage munchers. Are these ever designed into a community as part of the subdivision - too difficult? 

I don't see that it is a problem with both water types.

For waster just put the primary treatment, the spetic tank, on each site. This is still the most single most effective component of wastewater treatment, about 90% of the work. After that it is easier to pump as the solids are gone. These tanks aren't that large, although the bigger the better in terms of a periodic empty of the solids.

Recycling of treated grey water for toilet flushing has already appeared in some new subdivisions.

If you condense the population you would lower the infrastructure cost significantly I would think.

Decentralised units as you propose would certainly be beneficial in the current Christchurch scenario.

'network topology' ...   and maybe best to present it as 'distance walked' rather than  'condensing the population'. :)  Thanks for the links.

If you condense the population you would lower the infrastructure cost significantly I would think.

Fine if we are talking about new urbanism but our developers (most?) are focused on extracting the maximum per site. Take for example our hummer driving friend who buys villas in Merivale and replaces them with boxes (some units getting very little sun).

So who'd they include in their studies - lazy, fat arses?  I walked 3km to school on a daily basis, an additional 3km to my after school job and the 3km+ back home again afterwards.  I walked 3km to catch a bus to uni and then another 2km from the bus to campus.  I'm sure we've all heard the storys from the baby boomers about how far they had to walk to school.

I do agree with the need to condense things more though. I'd gladly walk more now as well if the places I wanted to go to were closer, but 200m is pathetic.  Some people need to harden the f#*k up.

That is why you aren't an Architect.Hehe.

Look I did the same as a kid, but your examples are all about children which is not what this is about.

Put it this way, what happens when mum calls the kids in for dinner? Is she going to walk the same 3 Km?

Heck Mum had to push me in a pram for 6 Km each way to the supermarket at one stage! But that wasn't in town, which is what we are talking about.

So yes you and I may have walked stupid miles to school, but what would life been if it had of been within 200m? Keep in mind it isn't absolute, there is a +/-. Get home, get something to eat, then out in the park kicking the ball around with the neighbours.

This is about building community........something that is missing from contemporary NZ.


Scarfie you make some good points and I'm sure you are correct about Auckland. But I visit Wellington, Sydney and London fairly regularly, and in those cities people are prepared to walk a whole lot more than 200m. It's is just a matter of what you get acclimatised to. Here in Chch we have been spoilt for sure, but that is changing right now. A small example, my 78year-old next door neighbour set off on a 14km walk to get home after the quake. Not a word of complaint, except about the mud on his shoes!

London I haven't been to, but it works because it was designed hundreds of years ago although probably now has a density that is too high. Subways would not be too far to walk to I would imagine. Someone close to me lived there for 10 years and advises that there isn't much of a sense of community there. Big cities need to be broken down into satellites of around 300K people. I have some data somewhere that shows the ideal diameter for that quantity of people. Some of the smaller English cities are good, the ones that haven't ruined their city centres with expressways.

Central Sydney is probably okay, but in general is too sprawled out. Unfortunately is still subject to zoning.

I actually rate Wellington as the best city in NZ.

I actually get the feeling we may get used to a whole lot more walking, if PDK is correct. But this again is because we have designed wrong.

But yes Auckland has to be about the worst around for public transport.

This is about building community........something that is missing from contemporary NZ.

Because we use cars. When you ride a bike people will sidle up beside and start talking. People also talk when they are walking in the same direction.

The quarter acre section might have worked when birth rates, hence population densities, were up, but they really are unsatisfactory for building communities.

I don't agree I grew up in Diamond Harbour. My mother visited her nieghbours with me in the pram and they exchanged cuttings and bulbs and spent time chatting.

I lived on the wrong side of Riccarton Road and there was a community as long as each person cared about their respective house. Unfortunately the houses were so badly designed they needed a complete rebuild to do up. When investors bought the houses the insecurity of noisy nieghbours made people move out and the investors rubbed their hands together.

"The earthquakes have broken a bearer across the piles in my house. The effect is hardly noticeable except the floor in the dining room is uneven, and there are faint cracks in the walls. But Fletcher’s have surveyed the house and said it would be best if we briefly evacuated the house while the repairs were being done. We do not have a date but have started sorting stuff." 


So what has happened to the good old Kiwi ' can do... number eight wire' attitude.

It is basic commonsence, if left the stress on other parts of the house will increase, more cracks more expense, more time.

So where is google or readers digest to home maintance repairs...

A suitable slab of timber or smilar....a truck or heavey car jack and a couple of heavy duty car axle stands.....

Jack up a bit, put an axle stand under with a block of wood on the top....jack up a bit other axle stand on the other side of the the jack.... get level and slightly more to allow for the slab underneath to settle a little. If in doubt 1 axle stand would not be stong enough leave both under the house.

One has now limited further damage....and many insurance policies have a clause along these lines.

Something many have not considered....

The 1st quake was early spring and a good summer....

This one is late summer coming into Autumn and would not be suprised a sever winter/snow... time is running out very quick for those with damaged homes....short term and long term.

Just had lunch with a friend, she works for one of the big lawyer firms in CHC, a staff of 60, they held a meeting and told everyone that they will need to reduce numbers at the firm by a half. This Earthquake just keeps rippling through the community, a lot of people getting hit with a double Whammy house and job gone, soul destroying.

FCM thanks for your updates. It is difficult to truly understand the scale of the effects on people of a disaster such as this unless you are part of it.

steptoe dead right!!!1/4 acres' are fantastic unless you're a lazy non no8 wire type!

Pffft  What a silly attitude!  Some of us have to work much longer hours than you 'lazy' 9 - 5ers. Rewards are that I can afford a professional to fix up my house.

You have a point, indeed specialisation allows us to focus on what we're good at, and exchange (using money) our skills for the skills of others.  It is interesting however that this is one thing that has broken down during these two earthquakes.

When the first quake hit we were in the process of buying a house.  At the time it looked like we would need a structural engineer, but despite scouring the country for one, they were all 'busy'.  Imagine that.  The only way things happened in the end was by knowing people in the right places.  That's not a nice situation to be in!


Well Tim you work too long hrs....You must be very lucky to still even have a job in CHCH...let alone able to simply ring up a "professional" who can pop around and fix something like at CHCH at the momment

"Pffft  What a silly attitude! "

Certainly does sum up someones attitude

If it were Singapore, Cuba, etc. the leaders could declare the centre of Christchurch be re-developed in gardens and bicycle paths, and any opposition to the idea could be squashed.

As it is, we're in a democracy and the land owners can do within reason what they want to with their pieces of land.  Opposition will be submitted, reviewed, looked into, responded to, meetings will be held, committees will form, not to mention the inquiries as to why buildings fell down when the ground shook incredibly violently as it did.

Looking at the rate of repair of buildings after the Sep 4. quake, how slowly things progressed, and that now things are not just damaged, they're properly munted (to use the technical term), with a democracy it'll be years and years as things drag on.  Who knows - by then the effects of peak oil will have made themselves known and the people will take the lead and start planting crops in the middle of town.  Cycle paths?  I'm thinking mountain bike might be a better choice.


I can see advantages to a system where the municipality owns the land and above that occupiers own a right to lease (like a crown lease).



"Bureaucracy" will be CHCH's biggest failing much like it was before the quake. Too many do-gooders and self righteous assholes who like too think they speak on behalf of all 400 thousand people. If they can 'demolish' this then they may have a chance. The longer things drag on, the longer business and trade remains unattainable and accommodation and infrastructure remain stuck in limbo then the end product will be dire aswell as too expensive. May luck be with you CHCH, your going to need it and so  to is the country in general now. Never has efficient public service been more needed and yet so low in supply

A North Shore based R.E told me a couple of days ago that they know a lot of  Asian migrants in Christchurch are thinking of moving out from Christchurch to Auckland. Was trying hard to convince me to buy now as properties in Auckland is going to be more expensive very soon because of this.  Does this make any sense to you guys?

sounds like RE agent bull to me

Yeah there will be some, but not many

Really wealthy ones might be able to do it, but many would need to sell up in Chch first, thats not going to happen in a hurry

I'd suggest that more would tend to return to their home countries than come to Auckland

Finding a job or a lucrative business opportunity in Auck is not going to be easy

The issue will be in the future.  Those from overseas who may have seen Christchurch as a destination to move to will probably go somewhere else like Auckland or Tauranga .  Even people who traditionaly desired to retire to Christchurch will be reappraising their options

I've heard that prices will rise on the non liquification areas. Christchurch still has its natural assets: The Port hills, harbour, tunnels.

Fair point

Maybe in a year or two this tragic event will  start to place upward pressure on house prices in Auckland 

In the shorter term I think potential immigrants will be hesitant to move to NZ at all. I think this was happening anyway because of lack of jobs, and unfavourable exchange rates. Also, we'll see quite a few Aucklanders leave to Aus this year I feel, as Auck's economy will be affected too

But yeah, a couple of years down the track as the economy and job opportunities pick up, and the international crowd forget the earthquake, immigration pressure on Auck may pick up. Immigrants more than ever will be likely to choose Auck over ChCh or Wgtn  

tim,i get up at 4.30am finish 4.30,2.35 more an hour than the min wage in an export worth more than me???deflation is coming time to drop your hourly rate!!!!!

Paradoxically, in one years time, Christchurch, which has had some de-stressing quakes, is likely to be at less risk of another earthquake than Auckland or other parts of the North Island

If you wanted to leave an Earthquake prone region, you wouldn't go from Christchurch to Auckland. You would go from Christchurch to another country.

If you wanted to be in the least risky part of the country,  I would think that Christchurch would be pretty safe after another year or so compared to anywhere in the North Island.

Having stated that, I'm sure there are lots of stressed out people from Christchurch at the moment who are keen to leave the town and would be willing to take the risks elsewhere in NZ.


Taupo erupts on average every 900 years. Last time the Romans and Cinese recorded the skies reddening (1800 years ago).

We have lost a great deal.  But it is healthier and more constructive to focus on the capacity that remains. 

The confidence, vision that existed in the 19thcentury is around somewhere and a major setback can the start of a commitment to really change.

Let's not miss the chance again.

Agreed John, like I said here:

"PS - How about folk start thinking about what productive capacity ChCh has left? It will brighten your day. The port is largely ok, the tunnel as well, rail too. Canterbury farmers have not stopped doing what they do, the same is and will be true for many other exporters here. With modern comms those that service these businesses can do so more easily than in the past. ChCh can still generate income, hence ChCh still has a good future, we just need to rebuild with Mr Greendale and Mr Lyttelton in mind (tw*ts). It'd not be a fitting tribute for those that have died and suffered to give up on ChCh. We need that staunch Cantabrian spirit to well up, get back from wherever. It's good to be alive."

The 'Negative Nellies' need to realise that the founders of Christchurch and Canterbury wouldn't have even taken a step on the 'Bridle Path' if all this region had going for it was tax-free capital gains from asset trading in the nontradeables sector. In comparison to many centres we are fortunate, we still have a more diverse economy than others and reflecting on what I said above, if we look at what productive capacity we have left, we are relatively well off, still. Even tourism, it's taken a hit like the whole city, but the priority for many tourists isn't the city, it's the South Island, and last I looked it's still looking great. (The cruise ships only stay about a day I believe and Akaroa has been handling them.)  

Now for a note to Gerry Brownlee - WELL SAID:

"Brownlee has caused a stir by suggesting that if he had his way some of Christchurch's older buildings would be "down tomorrow". He also said the price of saving some historic buildings badly damaged in the February 22 earthquake was too high. People had died in the quake because of attempts to save historic buildings badly damaged in the September 4 quake.

Indeed, pissing around trying to save old, but pretty looking deathtraps has probably added to the death-toll, as has avoiding the effort and expense to properly strengthen more obviously eq damage prone buildings in years gone by. Why? Let's not make the same mistake again. There needs to be an inquiry about this. It seems to me far too many people were killed and injured unnecessarily.

Finally, Winston, where are you? We need your ilk now. Oh, and I don't mean Winston Peters, on this occasion.

Chin up ChCh, it ain't good for sure, but it'll get better.

Cheers, Les.




The current public discussion in the US around "Made in America" products and the accompanying cries of dismay over the demise of US Manufacturing are a seemingly inevitable consequence of globalisation. For the last decade, we also have followed this pattern of discussion in New Zealand. But maybe it is time to reassess the situation and revert to labour intensive, grass roots manufacturing in and around Christchurch. This may sound counter-intuitive following years of upbeat drums on high tech and innovation. These are exceptional times.

It occurs to me, that the new Christchurch has an opportunity to regroup around a rebuild of the city that is fuelled by a vibrant manufacturing industry. Instead of spending tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to restore run down copies of European brick-heavy architecture of relatively recent vintage, available Government funding should be redirected to a strategic revamp of Manufacturing in and around Christchurch

The city is not going to become rich again by making and selling hamburgers to tourists and a dwindling population. But maybe there is a real opportunity to help grow existing NZ manufacturing businesses that are operating successfully elsewhere in our country; maybe by way of tax incentives or maybe by way of a direct wage subsidy.

It may be easier to sell New Zealanders, particularly Aucklanders and Wellingtonians on the idea of redirecting tax dollars into growing businesses they own rather than into our old bricks; and forget the old mortar; we know it doesn't stick.

A culture change, when forced on us maybe ?

kiwijohn search under nzeconomy (one word) and you find many of my articles on this blog about NZmanufacturing – just to learn most NZpeople aren’t interested.


Kunst, thanks for that. ..  interesting and quite representative of my impressions of consistent disdain  shown towards NZ manufacturers in recent years by politicians, economists and .other highly qualified punters.

But, that is precisely the point. Some, even in the US, are beginning to realise that unconditional support of globalisation has backfired. (EF Schumacher - "Small is Beautiful" is my own guiding principle). The situation in Christchurch provides an opportunity to credibly withdraw from our failed call for a 'knowledge economy' at the expense of Manufacturing. Breaking news of calls to rebuild ten thousand+ houses in Christchurch fail to recognise that there may be many, many more than ten thousand families who will not live in this city in the foreseeable future. Unless we provide new basic means of income in very large numbers without delay, the Christchurch population will drop to below 200000 within a year and take the next twenty to recover. Labour intensive manufacturing can provide the solution to firstly keeping people in the region and secondly maintaining a market for houses.

I do hope our leadership rises to the occasion with a clear, simply articulated strategy that retains a critical mass of existing Christchurch businesses and attracts others from Auckland and other cities unquivocally. Manufacturing can deliver a solution for Christchurch. World class business consultancy companies, legal firms and economists will not. And we do not need more of the sledgehammer solutions these wise people have foisted on New Zealand's relatively small problems for the past thirty years. For some reason the politicians and bureaucrats have been listening to them.

If we concentrate on having a high level of craft input to the city rebuild, there will be no shortage of jobs. Call it manufacturing, call it construction, whatever, but it will lead to a city we can be proud of, BUILT BY US.

Quality of life is a reliable form of renumeration and quality of life doesn't necessarily demand a large population but it does demand good urban design and section layout.


"the thing to do is buy a corner section and subdivide it ...blah blah..." let's applie the tar and feathers to that mentallity.

Christchurch – mostly flat – was nicknamed ‘Cyclopolis’ in the early 20th century. In 1924 the city council’s motor inspector estimated that there were 40,000 cyclists in the city – half the population. A 1936 traffic census found 11,335 cyclists passed one corner of Cathedral Square between 8 a.m. and 5.30 p.m., a rate of 19 per minute. Christchurch was home to 50,000 of the 250,000 cycles in New Zealand in the late 1930s.

From a local news advertiser:

Once Redcliffs was an unprepossessing fishing village, distinguished by a collection of modest fishermen's cottages. Most have now dissapeared, replaced by more luxurious residences, and property values have escalated.


“It's a standing joke that we're being taken over by the Americans and British, who have taken advantage of the stronger property markets in their own countires and favourable exchange rates”


“I know an English couple who have summer here and go back to England in the winter”


“What other parts of the city have such nice walks?.....

The truth is that you have to pay a fortune for a place on the hill that ins't spoilt by a nieghbours house as a result of infill. All this may have been as a result of a growing local economy, but on the other hand we seem to have had an industry based on immigration and selling (off) the kiwi lifestyle. 


Let's not forget the other tectonic forces: