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

Another side to the Government Hype…..


While we sit and listen to the official Government hype by Minister of Earthquake Recovery (Gerry Brownlee) and the Prime Minister (John Key), spouting about the


The Insurance Aftershock

wonderful job the Earthquake Minister has done in Christchurch. Those of us who live here and have experienced the ineptitude, dishonesty and travesty of justice (in the form of the MBIE Guidelines) are aware of the facts. No amount of media hype will disguise the reality of what has taken place – bungled repairs, the many failings of EQC and Southern Response, insurance claims still unsettled and the elderly dying while they await claim settlement as well as an uncertain future for the central city. As Eugene Sage of the Greens has said. “Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee must stop pretending the central city rebuild is all fine and dandy and tell the people of Christchurch what’s holding up two key anchor projects in the central city, the Green Party said today.” (See

Despite the fact that I have finally settled my insurance claim with IAG, I could not sit by and witness what has transpired in Christchurch without documenting the events. Consequently I made the decision to publish a second edition of my first book The Christchurch Fiasco. The second edition is called The Insurance Aftershock: The Christchurch Fiasco Post Earthquake 2010-2016. I have continued to write the history of events from a policyholders perspective in the hope that lessons will be learned and that the contents of this book will provide an opportunity to begin multi-party working groups (including the public) between Government, CERA, Christchurch City Council and Earthquake Commission around policy that requires revision and restructuring in order to ensure that we do not have a repeat of the lengthy time-frames and the bungled assessment processes that have factored so heavily in the post-earthquake recovery phase in Christchurch between 2010-2016.


ISBN: 978-0-473-35012-3 (Kindle); ISBN: 978-0-473-35010-9 (Softcover);

So what is new in the 2nd edition?

~New is a chapter chronicling the events of 2013 and 2014.

~New is a chapter chronicling the events of 2015.

~New are a series of contributions from key members of the public (including Cam Preston, Joanne Byrne, Dean Lester and others) who have contributed their time and energy in putting forward policyholder’s perspectives based on their experiences.

~New is the demonstration of how the issue of governance and the relationship with stakeholders has become more and more complex and how it has challenged both citizen recovery and democracy itself.

~New is a revision of the issues related to the property assessments by EQC and the private insurance industry.

~New is an account of the rise in the numbers of claims reaching the courts and the introduction of class-actions and some thoughts on why so many of the victimized population failed to take legal action.

~New is the account of the failure of the insurance companies to meet their self-imposed deadlines and how they changed their policies away from repair and rebuild to cash settlement, leaving people underfunded to fix properties themselves.

~New is my conclusion that there is no evidence of change in regulation or legislation to ensure that insurance timeframes are shortened. Still, five years on, thousands have unresolved claims or claims that will have to be reassessed and repairs that will continue on, well into the future.

~New is commentary on the discussion about the risks involved in properly future-proofing the infrastructure of the City, including heritage buildings.

~New is the discovery of the quick fixes which were essentially shoddy repairs. These have now resulted in repairs of the repairs and reassessment of scopes of work having to be done, despite citizens having pointed out the risks early on – yet authorities failed to heed the call.

~New is further comment regarding the use of the Ministry of Buisness, Innovation and Employment Guidelines and the way this has affected the repair and quality of rebuilds as well as settlements for policyholders, in effect paving the way for structural repairs to be assessed as ‘cosmetic’ repairs.

~New are a series of contributions from key members of the public who have contributed their time and energy in putting forward policyholder’s perspectives based on their experiences.

~New is an account of the discussion about the conflicts of interest between professionals working for insurers and the wording of individuals’ insurance contracts.

~New is the ‘sum insured’ debate, the policy change which led to this measure and what it will ultimately mean for homeowners in the event of another major earthquake.

~New is a comprehensive referencing of original materials in order to assist the reader and researcher to go to the original source for further detail.

~New is a revision of my opinions of the way in which certain events and processes have changed over the course of the past five years.

~New is a new conclusion with a summation of the issues that have arisen and those that require further reflection by the nation and which should be conducted as an inclusive conversation.

This is a book about the management and recovery of catastrophe at a National level.

The aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes (2010-2012) in New Zealand offered me a rare opportunity to examine the national policies and effectiveness of Government funding and management of catastrophe on a national scale. My findings are both surprising and disturbing. The slow and confused recovery phase led me to examine the insurance industry, locally and globally. This has revealed a clear pattern of corporate greed at the expense of citizens and has shown that the profit-driven model of private insurance can, and very often does, fail those who have paid-up policies based on “good faith” responses that are their due. This is not a book about idealistic sociological concepts, but a revelation of actual Government administrative failure and financial risk-taking, in concert with corporate malfeasance. It is a book every homeowner,  policy-maker, politician, local-government official, Treasury official and economist, should read. This is a story the wider media chooses not to publicize and consequently few people outside Christchurch are aware of the extent of the ongoing insurance battles. These are the same insurance battles fought by citizens the world over after similar catastrophic events. The opportunistic behaviour of the insurance companies together with the lack of transparency and integrity within these corporations, is compounded by the failure of corporate watch-dogs, such as government, the legal system and regulators, all of whom have failed to protect the public interest after the recent events. In the background, behind closed doors, are the strategic alliances and the networked relationships between Government, corporates, professionals and other major stakeholders with the object of profit. The interests and voices of the policyholder and homeowner are conveniently ignored and the lack of redress is well understood by these arguably complicit parties. The book discloses the failures and fallacies of current disaster management strategies, not only in terms of the huge financial implications but also the management of the ‘recovery’ phase. I also examine international experiences of catastrophe from the viewpoint of government policies and funding strategies. I point to a fundamental conflict of interest between corporatism and the need for rapid recovery in the interests of both the affected public, business interests and the economy. Also discussed are the tensions between National and Local government objectives and the unheard voice of the local population. I make comment on the limited efficacy of Civil Law and associated means of redress as protection against systematic corporate breach-of-contract and bad-faith, both in New Zealand and overseas. A need for fundamental change in disaster management is obvious from the findings of this work and I propose a viable, efficient revision of the means to achieve that objective – one which eliminates the current state of financial risk and susceptibility to Corporate subversion.


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'.

2 thoughts on “Another side to the Government Hype…..

  1. The noticeable increase in media puff pieces about minister Brownlee and his qualities together with full-page info-advertisements and positively framed articles extolling the efficiency and dedication of the EQC and earthquake planning and reconstruction agencies are easily explained in terms of standard corporate / political damge control techniques. Truth or objectivity are not the aim of such techniques, only appearances for ;ublic consuption are; the ‘whatever it takes’ approach. Or, in the case of Brownlee, to smooth the way for public acceptance of a future knighthood and / or well-paid sinecure after politics and, in the case of the government … to ensure re-election. Brownlee has shown himself to be the perfect dupe for government and those agencies who failed to perform as advertised, or as historically expected – to act in the public interest. Business, particularly big business, has acted just as might be reasonably expected … the Christchurch earthquakes simply provided windfall opportunities for big business and its fellow travellers operating in an ethics-free neocon commercial environment.


  2. Pingback: Another side to the Government Hype…..

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