Today in Christchurch a magazine pinup from England will be given a guided tour around Christchurch’s destroyed Central Business District—yet the people who own, lease and work in the buildings that make up that district are still being stopped from going anywhere near it, and their buildings and livelihoods are still being destroyed without even the courtesy of a phone call.
No wonder they’re fuming.
Antony Gough, Central City Business Association chairman and owner of 12 buildings in the CBD has organised many “raids” on his own buildings and businesses to rescue computers and servers, dismantling them to take the equipment out in people’s pockets.
And yesterday he had to learn through the media that his Hereford St building housing the Vivace Espresso Bar and Fortuna Books was destroyed without even letting in the business owners to remove books or expensive imported coffee machines--destroyed because it was the same colour as its badly damaged neighbouring building.
"They were different buildings but, unfortunately, I painted them the same colour, and it was a cream day that day. Every building that was cream in Hereford St was demolished…
"It is anarchy from the top down," he said. "They have taken lethal blows to the business community, and we are rising to fight back.”
Mary Fraser, who owns Care Consultants in the Link Centre in Hereford St, said she was "absolutely devastated" by the lack of information from the officials. "We are not being told anything," she said. "I am worried sick.
Kurt Langer, who owns a photography studio in the City Mall, said he felt "robbed and ruined" by authorities denying him access to his building. It holds more than $800,000 worth of property, including his wedding albums. He said he had begged at the earthquake headquarters for access every day since the February 22 quake.
"I feel like Christchurch is in a police state and I believe we are living under a communist rule. I know it sounds extreme, but they are demolishing businesses without giving information. They are ruining lives, and in a democracy this should not be allowed," he said.
City Centre Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said he has had “email after email from owners asking when they will get access to their buildings and when more information will come through, but there is no co-ordinated information coming through.” No effort at all being made by officials to get crucial information to business owners. And no effort at all to understand a point made by Kurt Langer:
People choose risk all the time—choosing themselves to play rugby, climb mountains, take gliders up to 5,000 feet above the ground.
But they're not allowed to choose their own risk (with the guidance of their own professionals) to enter their own buildings and remove their own property--even when their livelihood depends on it.
The grey ones wouldn’t begin to understand that. Instead they are still preening themselves in their own new-found importance, and today will be ferrying around a man whose face could launch a thousand magazines, but do nothing at all for the recovery of Christchurch business owners.
The business of Christchurch was business. Not any more. The business of Christchurch, if you listen to “the authorities,” is killing the very businesses that need to recover if Christchurch ever will.
There is not even a hint of Christchurch’s grey ones understanding that.
UPDATE 1: Today is a day for protest in Christchurch. Photographer Kurt Langer, mentioned above, will be marching to the Art Gallery and Civil Defence Headquarters at lunchtime today and he wants your support. Get along there and help him help other Christchurch business owners. Says Kurt:
Tell as many people as possible to come and join us at
12:30pm4:30pm outside the Bridge of Remembrance. They can park anywhere around the Bridge of Remembrance. (But they have to drive along Montreal street from at least Tuam street coming from the hospital to get there.)From there we plan to walk to the art gallery at 1 pm5pm, the headquarters of the new regime.
Come join us!
UPDATE 2: Contact protest organiser Kurt Langer on either 021 407 506 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
UPDATE 3: Eric Crampton has a whole slew of similar disgusting stories, including a restaurant owner, prohibited from recovering items from his restaurant “for his own good” finds out the soldiers guarding the cordon had been inside to grab a few chairs to sit on. The restaurant was then demolished without his being notified after assurances it wouldn't be… [hat tip Tribeless]