Gerry Brownlee has made a State of the City address this morning in Christchurch. And we suddenly clicked; it's almost two years since that rude awakening that Cantabrians received on a frosty Saturday morning; how time flies!
The full text of Brownlee's speech is here, but this is how he began:
We’re now just a few days shy of the second anniversary of the first earthquake, when we were so lucky that no one was killed.I want to provide you with an overview of the recovery process to date and the significant progress that we are making.But first, I want to thank the rest of New Zealand for the incredible level of support and assistance that the Canterbury region has received over the last two years. From all ends of the country, New Zealanders came to our aid and continue to support us.And we can all be proud of what we have achieved to recover from this adversity. Everyone has had to make sacrifices, to do things differently and to cope with the strain that these events have caused.The shared experience since then has come to define the lives of this generation of Cantabrians.Our challenge is that, in five years’ time, the event that by then defines the lives of this generation of Cantabrians is not so much the earthquakes, but being part of the recreation of the magnificent new Christchurch.Out of the tragedy comes the opportunity to create the best small city in the world, and there are extraordinary opportunities for anyone who wants to be part of it.
Christchurch has indeed been presented with an opportunity to undergo the kind of transformation that few cities in the world have achieved in times of peace. And Gerry Brownlee provided a reminder of just what Christchurch has been through; read on:
More than 10,000 earthquakes and aftershocks have been felt in this region since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit early on 4 September 2010.The 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 February 2011 killed 185 people, injured 11,432 and caused widespread building and infrastructure damage. The impact of these earthquakes and further damage caused by events in June and December last year has been internationally unique. Every part of the Canterbury community has been affected.Following the February 2011 quake it was clear that a timely, focused and expedited recovery process was required. The Government, with broad political support passed legislation – Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 - to ensure we could step in when required to remove barriers to reconstruction.And we established a dedicated government agency in Christchurch, for Christchurch – the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) - to provide leadership, quick action on urgent priorities and coordinate the recovery efforts of local authorities, businesses and the wider community.
The response from CERA and EQC has not always been to everybody's satisfaction, but that is entirely to be expected. This was a natural disaster of the magnitude of nothing that New Zealand had ever experienced. The Government, CERA and EQC may not have done everything right, but they have faced an incredibly difficult job as Mother Nature continued to rattle Cantabrians. There is no template for dealing with this kind of series of events.
We love Christchurch. She Who Must Be Obeyed is Cantabrian born and bred, we have many friends and family there including our Darling Daughter who is completing post-graduate studies, and we do business in Christchurch. We visit the city with some frequency. And as we have blogged on a number of occasions, we are constantly impressed with the resilience of the people of Christchurch.
That was encapulated in a sign we saw outside Knox Presbyterian Church on the edge of the red zone. Despite the fact that the interior of the church has been gutted, and just the skeleton of the walls remains standing, the church for many months displayed a sign that read "We're damaged but not broken.".
Christchurch will rebuild, and a modern and vibrant city will emerge from the dust and rubble of the last two years. And it was fitting that Gerry Brownlee delivered his speech today at the Ibis Hotel in Cathedral Square which reopens for business on Tuesday, having been closed since 22 February 2011. The message is clear; Christchurch is open for business
Kia kaha Christchurch!