Last Wednesday Pam and I, and members of our family, joined a good number of Christchurch residents and attended the premier of the latest brilliant film by Gerard Smyth and the Frank Films crew. It’s called “When a City Rises” and I recommend that everybody takes a chance to watch it.
We don’t get dressed up much these days. Pam even put on a pair of tights; she thinks for the first time this year. I didn’t go overboard and go that far, but I found a good shirt, which is rarely worn.
People were all dressed up, and there for a great time.
The film focuses on the Centre of our City and is, quite frankly superb. It has a number of narrators reflecting many different perspectives. The story rolls out from the start of the first September earthquake and then onto the February quakes. The story tellers made us laugh. They made us weep. They made us proud of what we have all faced and what we have all achieved together.
It’s a story which demonstrates that Tangata Whenua were at the planning table from the start. It shows how we all got excited about “Share an Idea” and how this got captured by Wellington bureaucrats and politicians. There were stories of what went right; and what went wrong. Stories of success, and defeat. The film is superb and I recommend that you visit a local theatre and watch it.
After the film there was a panel of speakers, the stars of the film, which followed a fairly predictable path. However, there were sparks in the discussion between Jim Lunday, urban designer, planner and architect, and Richard Peebles, developer of great inner-city properties. Lunday, the Glaswegian socialist, versus the dry-as-rocking-horse-shit Peebles (who masquerades as liberal and laid back). Their debate is one this society has to have; in depth. Richard did use as part of his demonstration of why there is little housing in the Central City, Development Contribution Levies. However, these are not charged in Central Christchurch. However, that aside, the real issue for us to ponder is do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up poor, not owning their own houses, especially in or near to the centre of our City? The “market” has demonstrated in a spectacular manner that it has failed the social justice and inclusivity tests and the role of the Government is to intervene in a failing market.
As people clamour for more people to be living in the Central City, without market intervention this won’t happen.
As we viewed the spectacular proposed rebuild of the Square from Regenerate Christchurch, which could have been constructed over a decade or more, I lamented the advice our elected reps got about it, and how a brilliant idea was shelved. Those who led the CCC case against the proposal should hang their heads in shame. Maybe, it’s time to dig the proposal up and polish it up a bit?
I also enjoyed the two projects which CCC were responsible for, the Town Hall and Turanga. Both huge successes and both much loved by the residents of this City. That’s what happens when locals tell authorities what they want prioritised.
One particularly poignant moment during question time was when Canterbury University Professor, Maan Alkaisi, stood up and asked that in any processes that we remember people. That people’s safety is paramount. Maan’s wife died in the CTV building. He spoke as somebody who has moved to the City he loves, and where he has chosen to stay, despite his personal grief. It was a powerful reminder of how we have a collective responsibility to protect each other as buildings are constructed.
As we drove home Pam turned to me and said that as a result of watching the film, she felt a cloud in her life had been lifted. That’s what we all need. Let the 10th Anniversary (where all the good and the great will clamour to talk about how well we have done and their fundamental role in it) be an opportunity for us to all to say “well that was where we were, but here is where we are going”.
Here’s the Press review of the film. It’s a goodie. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/film-reviews/300143474/when-a-city-rises-warmhearted-doco-celebrates-aotearoas-most-resilient-city.
To Gerard and the whole team who produced this film in Christchurch, thank you. This is a recording of our history which will take its place in the records of this era. Time and time again it will be returned to and used as a history lesson for those who follow on from us.