"Highlighting the inadequacies of the way in which the earthquakes of 2010-2012 were handled by the insurance industry! "

Cantabrians Uniting


The first earthquake of September 4th 2010 is not usually officially commemorated because it is over shadowed by the mayhem of the February 22nd, 2011 earthquake despite the fact that the Sept 4th earthquake was much stronger than the February 2011 earthquake. Nevertheless four years on many people are still struggling with their insurance claims. I too am one of those people. My story can be found at My Insurance Nightmare with State Insurance.

How many of you attended the Campbell Live memorial programme on September 4th 2014 at Shirley Boys High School?            Campell2

If you had attended you would have been very gratified by the turn out and the mood of those present. There must have been close to a thousand people there and while John Campbell did his best to illicit stories from the crowd the time frames allocated for the program were not able to do justice to the impact the unresolved claims are having on the lives of Cantabrians. However they were able to highlight the mismanagement of the recovery, rebuild and repair of the city and its suburbs.

This is the first event where hundreds of affected policyholders have actually come together to show their determination to resolve their claims. I was left definitely with the feeling that their patience is waning and the pressure is building.

There is no doubt that John Campbell did his usual proficient job of presenting the situation though there was noticeably no comment from the photographs of Gerry Brownlee (Minister for Earthquake Recovery), Ian Simpson ( chief executive of the Earthquake Commission)  and Tim Grafton ( Insurance Council New Zealand chief executive), I say photographs because following invitations, their blunt decline and failure to appear resulted in photographs being placed on their allocated chairs facing the audience. The fact that none of these luminaries bothered to attend for whatever reason they cited was simply a further display of the arrogant disinterest in the plight of the Canterbury population by not only Mr Brownlee but his Government in general.  In fact Mr Brownlee may well have anticipated the obvious over representation of the unresolved claims in the hands of Southern Response and EQC – both National Government owned operations. 1

What is nice to report however was the pleasant solid mood of the crowd who were patient with the delays that inevitably accompany live broadcast and the initial waiting period before the show started. If left me with the feeling that if the people of Christchurch had done this say three years ago – with repeated demonstrations in such numbers,  today’s results might be quite different. But it is never too late and if there is one thing to be learned from Campbell Live’s program is that there is a strength in numbers which cannot be denied – and secondly if you want your claim resolved then you need to assist your neighbour to get their claim resolved as well. When a thousand or more of you are doing the same thing and the location which you choose in which to do it is appropriate- then I suspect the insurers may take a different view of matters.

What I found very moving was that after the cameras had been turned off the entire room stood and applauded not simply as a thank you to John Campbell but to honour each others’ struggle – it was an acknowledgment of the grief and the pain this process is having on those present while at the same time it was an applause of great solidarity. I was moved deeply by this acknowledgment of the deep connection which has arisen as a result of this terrible disaster – and I’m not talking about the earthquakes as such,  but about the way the government and the insurance industry have chosen to respond to the earthquakes and the citizens of New Zealand. It is this that has been the catalyst for that deeper connection. The applause symbolized the way in which we had metaphorically speaking,  put our arms round each other during that meeting.

The Christchurch Press the following morning should have given this meeting priority over the National elections on a day when the front page of the Press boldly proclaimed “Poll sees Nats bounce back”. Only a small piece about the meeting was reported- no more than 250 words reporting the fact that the crowd had met the evening before.Campbell

The crowd reminds us of the fact that although many say that the rebuild is on its way too many residents are still in recovery mode – unable to fully recover because they are still in the throes of struggling with authorities and insurers. After 4 years only 10 per cent of the rebuild is complete. See


~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.



Author: Sarah-Alice Miles

Love to write, create and watch the clouds move across the sky - these days in the Netherlands. 'Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time'.

7 thoughts on “Cantabrians Uniting

  1. I think you are doing a brilliant job Sarah! How about you and other well known people get together and ask John Campbell for a one hour special on “Campbell Live”.


  2. I understood that Ian Simpson of EQC and Samson Samasoni of the insurance council had concerns for their safety following the events at WINZ Ashburton.


  3. If I was one of those three I wouldn’t have turned up! If they had turned up there would have been no time at all for people’s stories, so they did us a favour by staying away.


  4. Very good article Sarah, and it is a shame that John Campbell couldn’t have made it an hour long programme.


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