It’s been interesting to follow the local debate of people responding to Brook Sabin’s article on visiting Christchurch. I thought the article was pretty spot on. It was, however, just one person’s opinion. He wasn’t saying he hated the City. He was just sad. You know, that’s Ok. He mourns for what has gone. https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/115339176/is-christchurch-our-biggest-tourism-failure.
Here’s an extract from his article:
I heard the famed fudge shop at the Christchurch Arts Centre was back running; the precinct took seven years to reopen. The taste of their fudge took me down memory lane, but for all the wrong reasons. It reminded me of what the city has lost: soul.
Politicians will tell you of all their grand plans. But, as a visitor, why after eight years does rubble still rule the landscape? Surely, there’d be some urgency to at least get rid of the eye-sores that blot the landscape. Tourism is hugely important for the city and first impressions matter.
When I sat and read, and re-read the article this wasn’t a “bash-em” article. This guy used to live here. He wanted to like what he was seeing. He wanted to feel proud of what had emerged from the debris. This is an article which challenged us, as poet Robbie Burns put it, “to see ourselves as others see us”
The response from ChristchurchNZ was interesting. I’m not sure how I would have responded if I had still been at CCC. Probably the same as ChristchurchNZ did. Defensive. Promoting the good things that have happened. Pointing out what he had missed.
However, following on from the theme which I have written about so many times, it is time for us to actually listen to Brook Sabin’s observation. Things aren’t perfect. We still are in the grip of Central Government structures which prevent things happening locally. We still think like victims too often.
If you want an example of this just think about this. In the Global Settlement document there is a clause about CCC being able to identify which land is currently owned by Otakaro Ltd in the Central City. Remember they are owned by the Government, which is us, after all. This week a senior person in the CCC network requested the list of land holdings of Otakaro, and were declined. That’s the sort of behaviour which has caused where we are at. This is what Brook Sabin has observed. We’ve lost our soul. Somebody else controls it, and it’s time we took it back.
How can we ever recover our “soul” when the organisations within this City continue to play power games with each other? We are all in this together with Central and Local Government. We have remained victims of power plays between various agencies. This has had a deleterious impact on our mental health and confidence. It takes an interested observer to point out things aren’t quite right.
We have to accept this sort of criticism, from somebody who wanted to see better. We have to remove the institutions which block our progress. We have to rediscover that “democracy” is supposed to lead us to an open and transparent society. Not a place which is stymied by power plays between people employed by the organisations which are supposed to assist our recovery.
I think we should thank Brook Sabin and invite him to come back in a couple of years and see how well we have done; after we have taken back our power.