Christchurch still staggering under damage from devastating quake

Published:  22 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: New Zealand
The New Zealand city of Christchurch remains a ‘tale of two cities’ following the devastating 2011 earthquake which destroyed its city centre.

Although rebuilding efforts are getting underway despite a skills shortage in the construction industry, the city will never be the same again and its heart is still enclosed in a ‘red zone’. Demolition is still going on and the city centre is cordoned off to prevent access to the collapsed buildings.

Government rhetoric insists the city is open for business and has released a blueprint for the total rebuild of the central area. However, the earthquake hit hard on Christchurch’s business community, and especially on its then thriving expat student educational facilities.

Meanwhile, many residents in the eastern areas, the worst affected of suburban Christchurch, have lost their homes and moved on, helped by government purchase of the land. Disputes over land valuations and payment timescales are common, with many more residents still living in broken buildings in now unsafe streets.

Even in the less damaged western suburbs, houses waiting to be either condemned, rebuilt or simply repaired are still occupied by families with nowhere else to go. Again, insurers and local government fight while residents are told to wait as long as seven years before rebuilding starts.

The tale of the earthquakes and their effect on a thriving city has yet to end, although tourism is reviving and grisly tours of the Red Zone are proving popular. The city centre is expected to return to its former, if modernised, glory, but families whose wrecked homes are in the less visited suburbs may not appreciate the new malls and office blocks.
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