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Spoken from the heart: to the Christchurch City Council from – Paul Zaanen


First up I would like to thank Paul for his contribution – it is wonderful to see the community stepping up and sharing their thoughts and concerns with the wider community. This is Paul’s Zaanen’s contribution ….

Thank you for this opportunity to address you today….today I don’t come to you as the Manager of the New Brighton Business and Landowners Association, I’ve tried that for over two years now, today I’ve taken the day off and I come to you as a community member, one that has been working for New Brighton for 3 years now.
Today its time that you heard some hard truths. You have asked us in the community to engage with you on this Long Term Plan, to provide our opinions and our thoughts, and to look at ways that the community can assist you in making, and I quote “the right choices”.
I understand the issues facing this city, all of us do, …….I am not here to talk to you regarding asset sales or rates rises…….I sincerely hope that you have the capacity, ability and nouse to make these choices with respect to the fact that you, the public body paid for by the communities, are actually here to make the choices that work for the benefit of the communities that you represent.
For over two years now the community in New Brighton has pushed, strained, worked together and begun to flourish in the face of adversity….the sad reality is that this is being done without your support, without your understanding or engagement. I run the danger today in being called a carper and a moaner…..once again New Brighton is coming to you with issues and complaints….but I’ve tried, I really have, to work with you, I’m tired. We have provided solutions to the issues, to assist the public body in assisting us, the community…..but you do not listen, you are not helping, and this budget reflects that.
Do you have a plan? Do you have a strategy to move New Brighton ahead? These are rhetorical questions, because I already know the answer… you don’t. This proposed budget speaks volumes to these self-evident truths… really have not listened!
You say that this time it is different, you want to listen, you want to understand……You say.….we will make formal submissions and deputations, like we have for years, and hope in vain that once, just once you may actually hear and understand us.
For years now in my professional capacity, we have engaged with your planners, your staff and you the elected members……we have put internationally renowned experts in front of you, not to highlight the issues but to provide you with the solutions. We have demonstrated how you, the public body, can enable your master plan through a staged development process…….we have gone to the extent of proving to you that this is cost neutral to council through extra rates takes and development contribution fees….but still you don’t listen, you will not partner,
Through your PR teams you will hit back, you will tell the public “but wait we are putting 30 Million into the eastern Rec and Sports facility, look at us re investing in you”…..but this is not the truth, the previous facility was worth 160 Million, yes you under insured it and only got 77 Million back, of which you took the lions share to the CBD for the metro sports facility, this is called asset stripping. But wait you say “we are putting money into a Legacy project”, how is that project coming along? “Wait we have lots of figures about roading and infrastructure”, yes you have to do that work, we don’t live in the 3rd world, but this is not investing, that’s replacing and what we pay for….
Guys…….you wont even clean a toilet in New Brighton, you wont replace rubbish bins, you wont clean the streets……..two years, two long and tiring years, we have lobbied you for the basics whilst looking at the bigger picture…….”look to the budgets” your staff say, after all without any money nothing will occur, and look at where we are now….the most important budget for this city and for New Brighton with a weak, and dare I say it, pathetic showing.
You have wasted money, wasted money in ways I cannot believe……. temporary stop banks in Southshore which lasted for all of two weeks, the community told you it would not work, you did not listen! Pavement art in the mall, only for it to be destroyed 3 months later.. I have seen ad hoc responses to issues in New Brighton, with frivolous disregard to doing a job well, measure twice and cut once is a philosophy that is lost on you.
Why are you not listening, why are you not engaging, why is it that for every step we take forward you push back twice as hard….
You’ve spent 500K on this master plan… what end? The only action you are budgeting is a road extension……that’s it…….no follow through at all. You showed us plans for a new bridge on Pages road, a gateway you said, instead you lump us with a 500K plaster…..temporary or so we are told. This is exactly what you have done for the last 25 years with New Brighton, you make a guilt payment every 10 years or so and hope in vain that it may appease us. Have they worked? Once again the truth is self-evident.
We are not asking for white elephants, we are not asking for shining knights in golden armour to save us….we are not even asking you to lead the re-juvination of New Brighton, we are merely asking you to walk and work with us, step by step and stage by stage. You simply do not share the vision of the community that you are meant to represent.
You have an opportunity to get it right… address 30 years of social and economic decline, to light a beacon of hope on the east…..we have the plan, we have the vision and we have already begun. The foundations have truly been laid, the unprecedented growth and forward movement you may have seen over the last two years has not been a fluke, it’s been a hell of a lot of hard and passionate work by many many people, for no personal reward. Do you even begin to understand this? Do you have a “vision”? Are you prepared to play your part or will you continue on this weak tangent? Do you see the place that New Brighton can play in this city? Christchurch is a coastal city and New Brighton is the coast…….
You talk of resilience and grassroots movements…..empty burecratic words….I sincerely do not think you understand that you have an exemplar of that in New Brighton. Just open your eyes, engage with us, those who are now begging, begging, for you to work with us for a change. Stop kicking us while we are on our way up, right now you are actually not helping….if anything you are working against us. April the 1st marks the anniversary of New Brighton Borough joining with Christchurch City Council, I am truly wondering if this was a bad taste joke.
Not only do I personally think that what is occurring is a moral injustice, but I also believe its also a social injustice. New Brighton is not interested in East versus West argument’s, or Sumner versus New Brighton, New Brighton is not interested in yours and the governments multi billion investments in the commercial centre of Christchurch, we simply demand fair and equitable levels of service and investment through the public realm.
Take note that these failings are not yours alone, to date the engagement and participation of the central government and its agencies has been lack lustre to the extreme. Support mechanisms and crucial roles are there to be played and yet we see and hear nothing, do with us not to us.
Through out my engagement and participation with CCC planners, our own consultants, investors and most importantly with the community, we have a way forward. There are many steps in this journey ahead and I am asking you to play your part, if you continue on your current trajectory you, and in turn we, will fail. This does not have to be the case, you are the road block currently….this has to change and this budget has to demonstrate that. New Brighton is asking you to make a strategic investment with us, the yields and benefits to the greater City of Christchurch are all too apparent if you choose to open your eyes.
I won’t be taking questions today, rather I urge you to think about what I have said today and then come and talk to us. We will off course be filing official submissions, I hope you listen, I really do….. If you would like to know more about what we have tried to explain to you before, you know where we are….at the end of the broken streets, the broken bridges and the broken promises.”

Paul Zaanen

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'.

3 thoughts on “Spoken from the heart: to the Christchurch City Council from – Paul Zaanen

  1. Rumpole
    A brilliant submission and typical of the rest of the city to a lesser degree. So disappointing that Lianne Dalzell being a former MP and living in the east has totally failed to support the community that has supported her in the past so perhaps the message is next election to put up locals and campaign locally for some one with common sense to replace the current councillors. The previous council “consulted Sydenham & Lyttelton” who were to be priorities for renewal with pretty plans and expensive Architects there was even a dedicated team to help and what happened – practically nothing for years and its only in the last 6-9 months that a few buildings have been re built and I suspect despite the council rather than with its help. We will not be re building our City premises and with our house insurance now settled will be leaving Christchurch. The whole edifice of the state from council/cera/govt/judiciary and Big Gerry have totally failed the citizens and the results will b e litigated for decades, I hope history names and treats those responsible with the harshness they deserve.


  2. i have to totally agree with you the city council is spend massively on new stuff buildings facilities and they dont have the money for it its a massive budget blow out again and again. bridge repairs have gone into millions over budget its a disgrace doesnt these office people in the city council know how to do their jobs properly? over paid over rated and foremost useless half of the time. i moved from a small town ashburton and i love christchurch but now its become unbareable to understand why they leave the avgerage people unheard and unwanted and the city council have big dreams big budgets and big debts get your people who pay your rates first as the business saying goes its not the management that makes the business tick over and make profit its the workers !!


  3. As a member of the New Brighton community my entire life I was moved beyond words by Pauls submission he has spoken exactly what we are all thinking and living with every day. That New Brighton has been forgotten and all promises that have come before and are to follow are only of token intent. We’re yet to see any substance from the council, they are letting the eastern suburbs down the hardest hit suburbs, the suburbs that have suffered the most. What more can we do for them to listen??


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