American News Website: “Christchurch is Still a Mess…a City of Carparks”

Chch cathedral

The American news website Vice says Christchurch is still in a mess 4 years after the devastating Canterbury earthquakes, adding it has become a “city of car parks”

Far from normal

“…four years later Christchurch has become a city of car parks. Around 1,500 buil​dings have been demolished, leaving a city the size and planning density of Adelaide full of open space.

There are still a handful of skyscrapers around, but they’re mostly boarded up and condemned. Steel frames hold smaller buildings in place, but with an emphasis on slowing degeneration, rather than reconstruction. That’s not to say there hasn’t been improvement, but you’d think from the lack of news that Christchurch is back to normal. The truth is that the city has scars, while the inner city is still far from normal…”

The article is going to cause dismay in the Christchurch business community, desperate to attract tourism and trade back to the broken town.

The author is Julian Morgans, who was shown around by 28 year old Deon Swiggs, owner of the site which is also a forum for victims to “share stories and express their disillusionment over insurance payouts.”

Swiggs’ approach is “grassroots and open-source, which he says annoys the local government, but reduces the red-tape in reconstruction.”

Interestingly, the much of the building is in the hands of private developers. Which is bound to raise concerns about kickbacks and incentives.

Christchurch City Council has recently announced it has a $1.2 billion shortfall. Councillors are looking at selling off asset shares to raise much needed cash (source).

It’s been more than 4 years since the first quake and the CBD has yet to receive investment.

“What most people don’t realise is that rebuilding is in the hands of private developers,” (says Swiggs). “Developers build where people want to live or work, which is why there’s been more development outside the central city than within.” He explains that buildings in the CBD buildings were much taller, and subsequently more damaged, which makes the area a daunting investment for developers. An area of substantial rebuilding is the government office area, where public money spent on repairs has brought people back to work and encouraged the confidence of private investors. In short, investment follows investment, and the CBD is yet to be invested in…”

This is the ruins of the PricewaterhouseCoopers building. Demolished 2 years ago it was once the tallest building in town


There are other photographs, including dusty “time capsule”cafes and offices still littered with coke cans and coffee cups. There are facades that are pinned in place while the shops behind disintegrate.

There are so many support structures in place the rest of New Zealand must be seriously short of scaffolding. In places shipping containers are stacked three high,  retaining long ago damaged walls which appear to be slowly falling into decay.

This image is of the night club end of the city

Night club

Swiggs is complementary about a mural initiative to brighten up some of the blank walls that still remain. He likes that there is some colour now and says

“I like the idea that we’re moving towards a better city. And honestly, I can’t remember what it all looked like anyway.”

After 4 years it’s appalling that they’re “still moving towards” that better city and still have a long way to go.You can read the full article here

Falling under remit of Jerry ‘Barger’ Brownlee, the lack of progress in Christchurch has been diabolical. Stop dragging this thing out and get this town fixed for the good of everyone concerned. There’s six more years to go.


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Christchurch and Canterbury then and now, three years after the earthquake (Feb 2014) – Google images of before and after the quake

“Scathing Report Describes New Zealand and EQC’s Ill-preparedness” (Feb 2014)

“A report by global insurance broker and risk management company Marsh has criticized insurance companies in the Christchurch market for being among the world’s slowest to respond to disaster.

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Christchurch Earthquake Workers Threatened with Knives (Jan 2014)

“Long  suffering and angry homeowners, messed about for the last three years are deeply unhappy. Not only are they making heaps of complaints about shoddy work, they’ve also been taking repair workers hostage and threatening them with knives and machetes

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7 thoughts on “American News Website: “Christchurch is Still a Mess…a City of Carparks”

  1. I was being facetious.

    In all probability it would require an “invasion” of foreign, well-funded in-migrants to save Christchurch or the rest of New Zealand from itself, which the government will never allow to happen. Until then, the kiwi preferred method of lure-and-leech provides just enough life support to keep the country limping along.

    • For a skilled tradesmen though? It’s bottom end and with rent @ 300-400 dollars a week it’s cutting it very fine.

      Chuck in transport, food costs etc your robbing Peter to pay Paul as the saying goes, in one hand out the other.

      It’s not living, it’s surviving, no matter how good the view is

  2. They are simply dragging their heels with the re-build as the damage is working well as an advert to lure immigrants into nz.

    They are paying tradesmen $25.00nzd per hour, equivalent to £12.50, no thank you, especially in a country where rent, food and living costs are astronomical.

  3. The Kiwis simply want the money that migrants bring. Canterbury needs someone to replace the population of primitive Retardicons. Imagine what a manufacturing superpower New Zealand could have been if the settlers had been Germans, Austrians, and Northern Italians had been around to use New Zealand productively.

  4. This is nothing that 20,000 or so well-heeled immigrants can’t fix 😉

    I know Auckland seems to be the hotspot for foreign buyers (read: Chinese, whether actually true or not) of single-family and residential property, but maybe some will migrate south to CC.

    If there is any region in New Zealand that needs a huge influx of immigration, and foreign investment AND ownership, it’s Canterbury.

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