Nick Smith is the Minister responsible for ACC - but some might say he's just asking to come a cropper.
Smith and the Skeptics Society are planning a lunch in one of Christchurch's highest, oldest, stone buildings - on the day that "moon man" Ken Ring says the city will be hit by another devastating earthquake. Ring's prediction of another earthquake on March 20 - a week today - has caused alarm among some Cantabrians, who have said they will flee the city.
But the minister, who has a doctorate in geotechnical engineering, said he took a very dim view of people causing alarm with no scientific underpinning.
"I believe in free speech but just as people should not stand up in a picture theatre and scream fire, people should not be making phony predictions of major earthquakes."
The Herald on Sunday reported last week that both Ring and television psychic Deb Webber were predicting a further earthquake in the city, to the fury of city leaders and the scientific community. Smith said he was aware of other geologists and earthquake engineers who would also attend next Sunday's lunch, to "strongly discredit" Ring's claims.
We don't put a great deal of stock in Ken Ring's so-called earthquake predictions. And like Nick Smith, we're putting our money where our mouth is.
We're off to Christchurch next weekend; it's the first opportunity we've had to go down and catch up with family and with staff in the Garden City since the dreadful quake on February 22nd. We also plan to catch up with a Pastor friend who, with members of his church out east, has worked tirelessly since the Big One supporting a community in need.
If there's an earthquake next weekend, so be it. But we don't reckon that it will have anything to do with Ken Ring and his alarmist claims. And we commend Nick Smith and the Skeptics Society for their public stand against the Moon Man who, we believe, has caused unnecessary alarm to an already-frightened Christchurch populace. We won't be joining them for Sunday lunch however; we plan to get our hands dirty and help.