Mayor: Christchurch once the 'lucky city'

Ongoing work in Christchurch (Thomas Mead/3 News)
Ongoing work in Christchurch (Thomas Mead/3 News)

Lianne Dalziel says after the early morning quake of September 4, 2010, there was a feeling Christchurch was "the lucky city".

"We'd got away with it – a 7.1 earthquake and no one died."

Little did the then-Labour MP know what was to come little more than five months later.

"February really blindsided us… that was the game-changer, and I think that meant things were never going to be the same."

Since September 4, 2010, Christchurch has been rocked by more than 13,000 quakes of varying size. The one on February 22, 2011, claimed 185 lives.

"In one respect it feels like another lifetime ago, and in other respects it's just gone so quickly," Ms Dalziel, now the Mayor, said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

"Everyone's changed. Nobody has been unaffected by the Canterbury earthquake sequence. Anyone who's lived through what we've lived through, nowhere near are we the same as we were."

A memorial was held on New Brighton Beach at dawn this morning. Ms Dalziel was there, saying it was a "simple little ceremony to really reflect on… how the communities all came together".

"We all helped each other, and I think that we actually realise that there's a lot of power in community, a lot of power in neighbourhoods, and when it comes down to the crunch, we do come together and look after each other. That's what I guess we were commemorating today."

There's still a lot to be done, however. Ms Dalziel says it could be a decade before everything's fixed, but some things – like battles over insurance claims – have gone on too long.

She's suggesting legislation be brought in to force warring parties to go into mediation, "or something like that".

"I think [insurers] would like to see something bring about some closure for those people, because while they're stuck, it's really hard to get excited about what's going on in the central city."

She points to the fight over the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral as an example.

A Government-appointed consultant has being brought in to help sort out the impasse. Anglican leaders want the building partially demolished, but the Great Christchurch Building Trust wants the old cathedral to be fully restored.

"I've got great confidence that this will bring about the resolution we're all looking for," says Ms Dalziel.

"We need a resolution there, and I'm absolutely delighted. I congratulate the bishop and I congratulate those in the Greater Christchurch Buildings Trust for having the faith in an independent process to get a resolution."

The Government will be stumping the money to pay for the consultation.

3 News