September 11 2011: Avonside residents protest their treatment by
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee
A refreshingly candid article by English rugby writer Peter Bills in South Africa's Cape Argus captures something of the recent mood in post-quake Canterbury:
'The Canterbury earthquake has forced its people to look inwards at themselves, their lives and their shattered city.
"Christchurch is studying itself and it does not like what it is seeing" said one local.
Bitter in-fighting has replaced the initial shock and grief. Cantabrian has turned on Cantabrian.'
While there's plenty of rancor born of frustration in evidence in the comment sections of local online media, the editorial tone has until recently attempted to manage rather than analyse the public mood. Faced with an aloof and authoritarian Earthquake Recovery Authority, and a largely sidelined City Council headed by a vapid former game show host, people have grown weary of simply being praised for their stoicism. Right now the mood seems to be shifting from blaming one another to demanding constructive answers.
The public support for Wellington property magnate Bob Jones's recent criticism of the City Council's nebulous scheme for a central city rebuild as an unsustainable fantasy has shaken the complacency of local government. Hopefully this will lead to a more genuine form of public consultation than the Council's recent stage-managed "Have Your Say" distraction.