Tuesday, 24 February 2015

And the results of Christchurch’s four-year scientific experiment are …

The Press, Christchurch’s newspaper, says investors are losing confidence in Christchurch.

Is it any bloody wonder?

For four years now your government has been carrying out a multi-year scientific experiment in central planning. And outside their centrally-planned “core,” the city is thriving. Inside, not so much. Indeed, not at all. Investors and everyone else don’t want anything to do with anything there.

Inside the former central area, central government, Christchurch Council and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority ( CERA ) bureaucrats foolishly locked it all down for over 2 years, before putting on a further head lock with a top-down plan delivering only uncertainty and unrealism. What the earthquake couldn’t do, they did themselves, “with blissfully ignorant and romantic planning, divorced from reality, deliberately forcing unaffordable and unsustainable new rentals.”1

Between lock-outs, throw-outs and the associated uncertainties of a centrally-planned fantasy, business owners and would-be investors just can’t be bothered trying anymore.  Now, says the Press, the 100-day blueprint was 935 days ago

To stand in central Christchurch, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in a city which had lost its soul. Of course, what we all learned in Christchurch’s magnificent response to its tragedy was that the soul of a city lay in its people. But relatively few people come to the middle of town any more. They won’t until normal human everyday activity returns in force – and this is not wholly the sort of activity that is provided by a convention centre or a stadium. The suspicion is growing that the sort of Christchurch that we all want cannot be legislated for by Cera or its central city blueprint. The privately-funded labour of love that has returned the Isaac Theatre Royal to us in this past year has done more for central city vibrancy, so far, than has come out of the blueprint.

There are several puzzling things in all this.

The first is analysts like ASB’s Nick Tuffley who sees “no clear reason” why confidence in the region should have dropped so much, and Wealth general manager Jonathan Beale who says the result was "a big surprise." The only puzzling thing is that these analysts are puzzled. They should check their premises about where and how wealth is generated.

The second is the central planners, who after four years of Fortress Christchurch refuse to concede they are the problem, not the solution, insisting instead on carrying out  a replay of the scientific experiment of Joplin and Tuscaloosa – or of East and West Berlin.

The third is your central government, who watch all this happening only to continue ordering up more of the same.

And the fourth is you folk in Christchurch who, despite living with the results every day, and suffering all the health and economic problems because of it, continue to vote for and support your destroyers.

So who are the really stupid ones?


  1. Great post.

    Wish I could contribute something. Ideas from Wakefield/Godley's city founded on price-fixing come to mind, and what Hood said about Christchurch in 'A City Possessed'. Canterbury is still one big puzzle to me.

  2. "And the fourth is you folk in Christchurch who, despite living with the results every day, and suffering all the health and economic problems because of it, continue to vote for and support your destroyers."

    That's because:
    1) It's not all bad (eg: the exceptions outside the core that you note), and
    2) Most National voters think (and they're probably right) that however bad National have been, Labour would have been worse.

  3. Re 2: Labour may not be a total dead loss... 'Labour’s 2014 Ilam candidate, James Dann, blogged recently that while the planners envisioned a compact and vibrant downtown core, planner incompetence will instead have achieved a “Turbo Timaru or a Hefty Hamilton.”'


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