Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back to the Square

After being off limits for nine months, Cathedral Square was finally re-opened on Saturday November 26th to pedestrians. Thousands took advantage of the fine weather to visit the City's devastated heart.

While the plinth that once supported the statue of Canterbury's 'founder' John Robert Godley remains empty since its toppling in the February earthquake, Neil Dawson's chalice sculpture appears unaffected. In the background, the soon to be demolished BNZ building.

Once the first structure in the Square to surpass the height of the Cathedral spire, the BNZ tower now awaits the wrecking ball.

Empty buildings and the first tendrils of Xmas.

Deep inside the exclusion zone the Hotel Grand Chancellor slowly succumbs to the demolition crews.

Did they repair the paving? The eerily empty zone in front of the ruined Cathedral appears strangely undamaged.

The South side of the Cathedral, as an earthquake tour bus passes through the exclusion zone. 

Unlike the nearby Cathedral, William Trethewey's Citizens' War Memorial appears undamaged.

Originally the  Chief Post Office, the former Starbucks and Visitor Information Centre remains off limits. Hopefully it can be saved from demolition.

Once home to the Ministry of Works and Development, Christchurch architect J. C. Maddison's elegant Government Building was saved from threatened demolition over twenty years ago. After undergoing extensive renovation it became the Heritage Hotel. The substantial strengthening carried out at the time appears to have paid off, as the hotel is scheduled to re-open in 2012.

Conspicuous Product Placement Christmas in the Park

Definitely not your average Pepsi Xmas in North Hagley Park.
With the Occupy Christchurch folks camped out about a kilometer-and-a-half away, Christchurch's vast green heart showed that it's big enough to accomodate everyone.

Kicking off the musical extravaganza.

More FM MCs Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick.

Santa declares the Christmas season open.

Mrs Christmas. Not a Coke drinker.

Little helper.

Real Sumner lifeguards entertain the crowd.

Massed entertainers featuring Jackie Clarke and Frankie Stevens wish the crowd a Coca-Cola Christmas.

Her first sighting of Santa Claus?

Kids 'n cops.

Faux royalty and funny hats were all the go in the sit-down VIP zone.

With whitebait it's a sandwich. You want bacon, it's a sammy.

Enjoying the show from a front porch in nearby Rolleston Avenue. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Election Day Fun in Christchurch Central

Some say the nationwide turnout was at an historical low, others claim that once special votes are accounted for it wasn't that bad. Anyway, the weather was great.

The cheerily vapid faces of citizen participation, or the severed heads of democracy?

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee makes inroads into Labour-held territory in the recently reopened City Mall. At the close of voting the seat of Christchurch Central was tied, to be decided on special votes.

Tough luck Brendon Burns?

One Ilam blueberry and a pale pink Christchurch Central coming up!

The fairytale continues - Gerry at Ballantynes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Before the Earth Moved, Part One:

The Wizard of New Zealand in his Cathedral Square heyday.

Valentine's Day dance at the now Park Royal Hotel (now the soon-to-be-demolished Crowne Plaza), c.1994.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quake Tour Bus Stop

For those interested in taking CERA's gold coin donation bus tour of Christchurch's red zoned and restricted entry CBD, here's the Cranmer Square embarkation point:

Nailing it to CERA

Back in June Prime Minister John Key declared that no-one would be worse off as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes. When pressed recently on the campaign trail to explain the groundswell of discontent among those affected, he offered that there had to be winners and losers. On Saturday November 19, earthquake-affected Cantabrians took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to voice their discontent with the Government and CERA, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

The Show Your Colour Crusade.
Despite the name and trappings, not a religious revival but a gathering at Cranmer Square of over 400 aggrieved residents of Canterbury's colour-coded quake-damaged zones.

Not happy, State Insurance.
Protest organiser Darla Hutt holds crosses representing the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's complex - and many claim hopelessly confusing - colour coding system for quake-affected zones. 

A different drummer.
A funeral procession, complete with coffin, joins the rally.

Numbers are swelled by a contingent from the Occupy Christchurch camp at Hagley Park.

Evan Smith addresses the rally.

Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns stresses the urgent need for transparency and clear communication from the Earthquake Recovery Authority. He described how even the City Council was kept in the dark about the recent decision to condemn 400 homes in the suburb of Brooklands.

Kaiapoi resident Brent Cairns, whose home is effectively condemned despite having no evidence of real earthquake damage, shoulders his red zone cross.

The rally sets off for CERA's headquarters.

Taking it to the streets.

On Worcester Boulevard, where the trams have been absent since February's quake.

Gathered outside CERA's offices on Worcester Boulevard.

Evan Smith and the Reverend Mike Coleman select a spot for the big cross at CERA's offices.
The rainbow hues represent Earthquake Recovery Minister Brownlee's 'amazing technicolor dreamcoat' of colour-coded quake-damaged zones.

Mike Coleman reads aloud from his open letter to New Zealand. Members of the audience hold crosses representing the zones where their homes are. Red means condemned, while white zoners are still waiting for clarification.

Mike Coleman symbolically nails his open letter to the cross at CERA's door.

People place their crosses at CERA's door.

The open letter delivered to CERA.

Play nice State Insurance, or they'll be back.