Spare a thought for the long suffering people of Christchurch this winter, many of whom are still living in damaged homes almost three years (Sept 24, 2010) after the first quake hit the small New Zealand city.
Already beset by widespread flooding (watch video) that has closed a number of schools, the Canterbury region is about to be hit by a mega snow storm predicted to be the worst in 20 years. A bitterly cold Antarctic airflow is about to sweep over much of the country.
Stuff.co.nz is reporting
“The MetService website was down for maintenance today limiting access to information about the weather.
In Auckland the expected maximum for Friday was just 10 degrees Celsius.
Blue Skies weather forecaster Tony Trewinnard said up to 20 centimetres of snow could fall to sea level in Canterbury on Thursday and Friday, with up to 40cm above 200 metres and up to 60cm above 400m.
He said this would be the biggest snowfall for the region in 20 years.
“To have it potentially last two days is quite unusual (for Christchurch) and could potentially become quite hazardous,” he said…” more here
If you’re a migrant worker about to arrive in Canterbury make sure you have pre-arranged accommodation and that it’s heated. And pack your winter woollies.
The community on the Trademe message boards is already buzzing with talk about the flooding and the earthquake forum continues to be filled with heart rending tales of hardship in Christchurch. This is just one of them, it’s hard to believe that this is still going on in a first world country three years after an earthquake. People are STILL living like these poor souls, surely this should not still be happening!
NB. Short term rents for a poor quality three bedroom property are currently around NZ$600 a week (US$485) in Christchurch. The median weekly income from all sources is $550 – $560, and the median hourly income is just $20.86 (source Statistics NZ: New Zealand Income Survey: June 2012 quarter).
“We are just one family of many living it hard in Christchurch”
“I don’t know if I am allowed to do this. We have lived through all the earthquakes and seen the affects on the people who are living in cars, under piles of rubbish, etc, three or more families to a small unit. It is shocking and hard not to be able to help. We need financial help ourselves. We moved into a place the night before the first earthquake, my husband was driving at the time and was stopped by divine intervention just before a building landed on the road in front of him, which would have crushed him had he been further along the road. We have been looked after and kept safe during the whole time from divine help.
We have lived in our car for a few weeks and had to move several times due to damaged properties and my health. My husband has just lost his job and we are about to be out of another home and in the car again because we have had to juggle money so much with the rising rents, etc. It has been a matter of do we pay the rent and bills, rent and food, or food and bills, it is an impossible situation, with people telling us to get budgeting advice. We do our best.
We are only one of many managing in Christchurch like this now, I wish the government would help the little people here and look at the real issues. I want Christchurch rebuilt, but you need to provide for the people first. How can letting the people here starve and live on the streets help with a proper rebuild? The people are the city. I am asking if I am allowed to put this message begging for financial help at least for my husband and myself urgently if this message is allowed to be posted. I don’t want to live in a car again, please help us. We are just one family of many living it hard in Christchurch.” source
Want to know more about the plight of these people, struggling against all odds to survive? Please read our blogs from March 2011 – Raising the Profile of the Eastern Suburbs and Christchurch Quake a Tale of Three Cities – More Help Needed in Eastern Suburbs and other posts tagged Christchurch earthquakes.
Moving to Christchurch to help out with the rebuild?
Take care when looking for rental accommodation.
According to a report by Stuff, owners of quake damaged properties that have been written off by insurance companies are selling off their investments for no more than the price of the section (land) rather than using insurance payouts to repair their homes.
Savvy investors are coming in to snap up the cut price wrecks and renting them out to tenants, seeing the potential for long term gains when the sites are stable enough to be redeveloped in the distant future. Some of the affected areas may surprise you they include upmarket Sumner and Avondale, Queenspark and the eastern suburbs.
What does this mean for migrants coming into the city? well, they’re unlikely t0 know where the damaged houses are, or the implications of living in one and could fall easy prey to unscrupulous investors. This may be something you’d expect to happen in a third world country, but in New Zealand?
The potential problems could range from weather-tightness issues (rainwater ingress, difficult to heat) and poor security to damaged sewage connections, ongoing liquefaction, shaky foundation etc. to a real risk that their temporary home could suffer further damage in an aftershock or new earthquake.
There is no indication in the article whether these homes have ever been assessed as fit for human habitation, there’s no “MOT” for homes in NZ before they’re considered suitable as rentals and once you’re in a long term rental contract it’s very difficult to get out from it without suffering large financial loses.
The message to you is this. If you’re emigrating to New Zealand to work in Christchurch and your employer has promised to assist you with accommodation be sure to ask if they’re going to place you in a quake damaged property. Get a written guarantee that you will be provided with safe, sound and habitable accommodation and that if the property is later found to have quake damage that interferes with your enjoyment of your home they will bear the costs of relocating you to a more suitable premises.
If you’re looking for accommodation yourself speak to the locals first and get the low-down on the areas to avoid and the pitfalls of living in a damaged home. Lastly, ask hard questions of the rental agents.
We’d like to hear from anyone who’s unwillingly moved into a quake damaged rental and is suffering as a result. Please leave comments at the bottom of this page.
You may also like to read
Landlords told to make homes liveable – “Some people think it’s OK to make a buck at any expense, but it’s not OK when your investment is more important than the wellbeing of citizens” (Stuff.co.nz 15 Jan 2013)
Coming to Christchurch to teach, or put your children through school?
You may want to think again after official data published today showed there has been a net outflow of families and older workers from the quake stricken city,
“There was a net outflow of children and their parents from Christchurch after the earthquake, and fewer young adults arrived for study.”
Over the two year period, the number of children between the ages of zero to 19 decreased by 9300, while the number of people between 35 and 49 decreased by 5700..”source
This is perhaps why 38 schools are either being closed or consolidated, prompting what has been spun as a “shake up” (poor choice of words) of education in the Canterbury region last month,
PM defends Christchurch school closures.
Controversial plans to shake up Canterbury’s education system will change before they are finalised, Prime Minister John Key says.
In his first remarks since the planned school closures were announced, Key said changing demographics, costly repair bills and ministry research were behind sweeping proposals to close 13 schools and put 25 through some form of merger… more here.
The proposed changes have angered many, as has the overall lack of a consultative approach in the rebuilding of Christchurch. Principal John Bangma was shocked at how he was told of the forthcoming changes,
“ A Christchurch principal is appalled at how he and his colleagues were told their schools could close.
Principals are also upset they still have no idea about the rationale behind the proposals to close, merge and relocate their schools…”
One news report told how 500 principals were all brought together at a meeting in Lincoln hosted by Education Minister, Hekia Parata, and given coloured name badges to wear. They later found out the badges were colour coded according to the fate of their school.
“Linwood Intermediate School principal Lee Walker said he was appalled at the ministry’s handling of the event.
After hearing Parata speak about a $1 billion investment in education in the region, he was given a pack of information which told him his school was proposed to close.
“There was this stunned silence going around the room. You could feel the anger build in the room.”
There was no information in the pack about what he was supposed to do next and when the proposed closure could happen.
“There was a lot of anger from people about how we have been told and treated.”…” more here
Coincidentally, a relative of Parata has lodged a final approval to open a new school in Christchurch but the minister said there was “no conflict of interest“,
A new Christchurch school, which will be run by a relative of Education Minister Hekia Parata, is waiting on government approval.
The school, Te Pa O Rakaihautu, was endorsed by the ministry just weeks before work began on the overhaul of the city’s education in October last year.
The Press understands the final application is lodged and awaiting approval. Te Pa is chaired by Parata’s second cousin, Rangimarie Parata Takurua, sparking accusations from Labour of a conflict of interest.
It will be a character school, which is similar to a charter school. Both are state-funded and have the power to develop their own way of teaching… more here
And if all that wasn’t enough to stretch Canterbury’s already stressed teaching staff there are problems with their pay too. Read Pay system leaves teacher with just $4, Stuff, 18 October 2012,
“The $29 million Novopay system was rolled out in August. The Press was contacted by dozens of school staff yesterday complaining about the system.
Among those who expressed concern was a teacher who was paid just $41 for two weeks of fulltime teaching.
”I am stressed, sleep-deprived and feel completely undervalued as a teacher,” she said.
”I certainly don’t feel like the enthusiastic, effective teacher that I want to be four weeks before my students sit their exams.”
Two others said they were waiting on substantial amounts of holiday pay.
Another two said they had not been paid for short-term relief work before the school holidays that began at the beginning of the month…”
Suggested further reading
Does this feel like the caring, socially inclusive country that you’d like it to be?
We’d like to hear from people in the education sector, or parents affected by these changes. Tell us how they are affecting you and your family. We’d also like to hear from people intending to migrate to Christchurch and would like to give them the opportunity to ask questions about education in the region,
Another strong earthquake hit Christchurch at 1.35pm today.
The mag 4.2 quake, only 12km deep, was centred 20km east of the city. Geonet described it as “strong” and said it was followed by a smaller 3.8 quake at 2:01pm.
Public Id: 2012p713691itNZST: Friday, September 21 2012 at 1:35:03 pm
Depth: 12 km
Location: 15 km east of Christchurch
This is the first significant shake for a while and reminder that Christchurch isn’t out of the woods yet. It is over 2 years since the first major quake shook the city and over 12,000 earthquakes have shaken the region since then, putting a dampner on reconstruction efforts .
Shocked residents were quick to post their experiences on the TradeMe forum, saying
“Wow, it doesn’t take much for those feelings to come rushing back does it? The first one I’ve felt in ages, and now it feels like they never stopped! Instantly checked that the pantry kiddy lock was done up and boiled the jug – paranoid or what???”
“Holy crap, that scared the $#$@ out of me!”
“At least a four, off North Beach way. Make my house really shake. Can we expect another one in an hour????”
“havent felt any since that one up north off the coast but mother nature is just reminding us not to let our guard down.Its a good time to check the water in the earthquake bins as we call them.”
and on Twitter
“first shake in a while, packed a decent punch over here by the airport
#eqnz“ “#eqnz Quite a jolt & long shake in CBD Chc.”
“4 storeys up when you feel the first decent shake in months = unpleasant!
Thinking about laying out tens of thousands of pounds to emigrate to New Zealand and work in Christchurch, Canterbury?
You may be disappointed to learn that Kiwis are still the preferred candidates for work in the region.
A growing number of visa applicants are being declined by the Christchurch immigration office. This is because rising unemployment in New Zealand means that local workers are given preference over foreign candidates already on shore.
Word must be getting out because visa applications have plummeted.
Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) Christchurch branch has received the lowest number of applications since 2003 as immigrants leave the earthquake-hit city.
Despite this, people who want to stay in Christchurch are struggling to get work visas.
Jobs for Kiwis first
”INZ figures show that for the 2011-12 financial year, 9939 people applied for visas at the Christchurch office. In 2009-10, more than 13,500 applications were received.
INZ has declined more work visas this financial year than last.
The operations manager at migration law firm Malcolm Pacific, David Cooper, said unemployment across the country has led to an “increase in the amount of applications being declined“.
“Obviously, it’s jobs for Kiwis first. That’s how it has always been and when someone applies for a work visa, then [INZ] does its own labour market research,” he said…” more here Visa refusals in shaken Christchurch
Jobs for Kiwis first is nothing new, this policy has been in place for years. Read any of our posts tagged Jobs for Kiwis for more.
But this policy doesn’t seem to have much influence on the many NZ immigration job fairs that have been touting for workers in countries such as Ireland.
Be warned, your visa application fee doesn’t get refunded if you’re declined.
Immigration New Zealand has a projected $44 million deficit in its memorandum account to plug, somehow. The shortfall arose because of a drop off in visa application volumes following the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.
Think hard before you make the leap and part with your cash.
You may also like
- Another British Migrant may be Forced to Leave NZ – “It looks as if there is evidence that the colloquially named “Jobs for kiwis” policy may still be being implemented in New Zealand. A highly regarded British employee may be forced to leave the country because his work permit may not be renewed despite his employer being unable to find someone to fill the post…” December 2009
- Another Migrant Family Left High and Dry - ” The mum is gainfully employed as a very much needed residential care worker. When she applied for a renewal of her work permit Immigration New Zealand (INZ) “decided not to renew it”. She’s appealing against that decision and INZ been placed her on a visitor’s permit until the outcome is known, this means she can no longer work and is left without an income…” July 2009
- Jobs For Kiwis: Skilled Migrants Not Getting a Fair Deal on Work Permit Extensions - “The Motor Trade Association has added its voice to the outcry over the ‘jobs for Kiwis’ policy which has resulted in some migrants being denied work permit renewals, despite holding secure jobs. Many migrants are being told to leave NZ just weeks after their extensions are refused or warned to face the consequences of remaining in the country illegally.” July 2009
- Jobs for Kiwis – How it Impacted on an IT Worker – “Just one story of how the “jobs for Kiwis” policy has impacted on the life of a European skilled worker who has lived in NZ for 8 years…”
More on the “jobs for kiwis” policy and INZ shortcomings:
Migrants groups push to end ‘hypocrisy’ – new migrants still arriving but no jobs
Government brain drain explosion – StatsNZ show there’s no brain drain