Saturday, March 5, 2011

Just what we need, more bluster

I haven't wanted to write anything about the Christchurch quake before now, it's too depressing. I did a lot of my growing up there and it's my favourite city in the world, or at least was, because a lot of what I loved about it was the beauty of the place and the kind of seedy, seen-better-days, once-were-mansions neighbourhoods of the inner city. That's mostly gone now, and trying to bring it back doesn't seem like a good idea. It seems likely that a lot of the beautiful old buildings will have to go, and if they do have to go it would be better to rebuild in modern style than try to build fake reproductions of what was there before, or even worse, have architects "acknowledge" the historical character of the place by putting fake gables and columns on the cheap shit they build to replace it.

Having acknowledged that a lot of the old buildings are gone or going to have to go and be replaced by modern equivalents, it's nevertheless a serious worry that the local Nat cabinet ministers are blustering idiots of the "price of everything, value of nothing" type. Gerry Brownlee has never seen a national park he thought wouldn't look better as an open-cast coal mine, and David Carter always gives me the impression he thinks the nation is just a farm writ large.

As examples of why these are crap people to have in govt at a time like this, consider the following:

Brownlee: Lives before historic buildings. The Minister bends his awesome intellectual powers to the question of what approach to take to the city's heritage, and concludes:

"Quite frankly people have died in this last earthquake trying to save old buildings. We're not going to do that any more. My absolutely strong position is that the old dungas, no matter what their connection, are going under the hammer."


My immediate visceral response to this ("Die, you fat fuck") probably isn't sufficient for a blog reader to figure out what my problem with it is, so here's a longer version. Well, yes, we do want to put lives before historic buildings. However, I don't think either PGC or the CTV building would count as "historic" buildings by anyone's standards. Further, the Hotel Grand Chancellor was built to 1995 standards, ie higher standards than most buildings in the country, and people are going to have to carry out plenty of work on that building in order to demolish it. An earthquake could kill them while that's happening. Likewise, we have people working on extracting dead bodies from buildings, despite the fact another earthquake could kill those workers. Life involves risk. Unless Gerry's planning to introduce a building code that will enable buildings to survive any conceivable earthquake and to then demolish any buildings that don't meet it (which technically he could do, given that the imbeciles running the country voted him absolute power late last year), he should Shut The Fuck Up.


David Carter: Call for "aggressive" demolition in Christchurch. His take on it:

Carter said after the September 4 earthquake last year, there was a lot of resistance among Cantabrians to demolishing old and historic buildings but he did not anticipate opposition after the latest devastation.


In other words, for Carter the earthquake has proved useful in that it will have made people happy to sacrifice the buildings Brownlee calls "dungas," and replace them with ones that unsentimental characters like Carter will find more economically useful - not to mention, there'll be a shitload of money to be made out of it by people with connections like Carter's.

The consequences of these blustering, blithering idiots reaching for their revolvers when they hear the word culture arrived pretty much immediately:

Historic Christchurch church torn down without consent. I used to live in Sydenham in the late 60s, back when it was still a neighbourhood (ie, before Brougham St got turned into a traffic bypass). I'd cheerfully string the people who did this from a lamppost, and for all I care Brownlee and Carter could swing with them - maybe some lives aren't more important than historic buildings after all.

45 comments:

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Not up to your usual standard Milt.

Inventory2 said...

On the other hand Milt, well-meaning people tried to save the Manchester Courts building when it was patently stuffed after September 4; imagine the added devastation of seven stories of bricks and masonary coming down last week.

I was in Christchurch over Christmas/New Year, and it is sobering to see the damage around places where Mrs Inv and I spent time. We had coffee at the Cathedral's cafe which filled with dust and debris. We also lunched at the Novotel less than 50 metres away, overlooking the Square; the refurbished Warners Hotel, where a modern interior sits behind an historic facade. From what I've seen on TV, it seems largely undamaged. Maybe that's the way forward.

You're right in one regard though; the character of Christchurch has changed.

FAIRFACTS MEDIA said...

I think PM makes a fair point.
Christchurch has many fine old buildings and it is they what give the city its character, especially if they ae from a century or two back.
However, the quake will have destroyed much grot too that will have been built from 1950 to say 1990.
Christchurch is a major tourist destination and it will be a false economy to throw up cheapjack erections.
Surely, the architects of today are capable of designing quality work that is good to look at.
Christchurch has the potential to be a showcase of what NZ design is capable of.

Anonymous said...

"what we need, more bluster"

... and you've just made the point very well by adding to it. All I can say is what a load of old bollocks.

Gooner said...

Not up to your usual standard Milt.

Disagree to a point.

I disagree with Milt's thesis, but he makes the argument very well.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't berate Brownlee too readily. In each street in the central city there'll be buildings which sentiment would like to save while there'll be others which do not warrant this. The cost of restoration will be a determining pivot where the insurance companies are bound to settle claims. That's a commercial reality.

I was personally sad to note the demise of the Time Ball station which stood proudly above Lyttelton for a very long time, but: Had it collapsed and strewn itself across the neighbourhood its character would have dissolved into mere nuisance. This is a physical reality.

No matter how appealing historic buildings are, if they become a nuisance/threat they must go!

If replacement buildings are constructed with physical integrity and considered beauty then sadness will abate.

Cadwallader

kehua said...

What a load of twat Milt, have you seen the shithole created by this quake? Are you prepared to get off your fat arse and go down there and clean the rubbish out of the old buildings that are liable to fall on you or any other poor bugger stupid enough to go into them? If they are rooted , they are rooted. Knock them down before the next so-called aftershake does.

Anonymous said...

So you're really emotional. But what's your argument?

Its incontrovertably true that Old and unsafe buildings - that had no economic value otherwise they would be strengthened have killed people.

Its also true that some buildings built to code have also collapsed.

This is a tragedy but not a crime. Yes Chch will have to rebuild, but buildings are built for a purpose - lets get the purpose right. Chch is going to have to be low rise now, so lets make it the coolest, most high tech smart city in the world, because cramming crap retail into old dungas and then wondering why all the punters prefer to shop out in the malls is a recipe for central city turning into a desert - which frankly it already had prior to the September earthquake.

You may have fond memories of your youth, but as a non-chcher, the square and central grid was a horrible place to visit - tacky souvenir shops, crap retail on month-t0-month rentals, and the odd skinhead and bogan. Good riddance to the old dungas - but for god's sake don't let's throw up worse crap.

JC said...

Milt,

You left out two critical comments that Brownlee said. When asked about rebuilding in an old style he said (as near as I can recall) , "I don't care" and a little later "They will be new buildings". Thats very important, if you rebuild in masonry they will be new buildings and fully compliant with modern building standards.. thats the least you can do to protect people.

In fact, what will happen if some of the families of dead foreigners check and find the local building owners and Council didn't make buildings safe after the Sept quake? We could be looking at criminal negligence here along with massive lawsuits. And its not as if this outcome was unexpected.. you virtually always get an aftershock one degree of magnitude lower.

When Brownlee (and Goff) say the buildings have to come down and very special attention paid to a handful of significant buildings like the Cathedral, they are saying so from atop a small mountain of bodies and huge piles of masonry. For them to say anything different would be criminal.

JC

Tinman said...

I live and work in Christchurch.

I'll take Gerry's version (the one where old masonry doesn't fall on my head) anyday.

Redbaiter said...

"I'll take Gerry's version (the one where old masonry doesn't fall on my head) anyday."

I dunno, when you're so brain damaged already, what's to lose?

Anonymous said...

Hail King Gerry, for he is wise and benevolent and he will ensure that nothing hits Tinman on the head. Somehow.

Judge Holden

Redbaiter said...

Amazing how times change ain't it? The writer of this post used to frequently berate myself for abuse, and delete my comments on those grounds, and here he is calling other's "fat fucks" and openly advocating capital punishment.

Anonymous said...

"Capital Punishment?" per Redbaiter. Does mean residing in Wellington?

Cadwallader.

Tinman said...

I dunno, when you're so brain damaged already, what's to lose?

Not much at all bedwetter but I still retain enough to recognise my failings.

Anonymous said...

Gee Russell, it's a bit rich for you to whine about posts being deleted. And rabid nonsensical abuse is a better reason than your one (that you don't like getting your skinny old ass handed to you).

Judge Holden

Todd said...

Perhaps you shouldn't be lumped in with the right-wingers Milt?

http://jackalmonitor.blogspot.com/

Psycho Milt said...

Many of these comments seem to be in response to a post declaring that all old buildings in Christchurch must be protected at all costs. I don't recall writing that post. In fact, the post above is about the opposite - ie, blowhard politicians declaring that all old buildings in Christchurch must be demolished, no matter their heritage value.

On the other hand Milt, well-meaning people tried to save the Manchester Courts building when it was patently stuffed after September 4; imagine the added devastation of seven stories of bricks and masonary coming down last week.

Hindsight's a wonderful thing. It's unlikely anyone suggesting the preservation of the building was expecting a 1-in-2500-years earthquake to turn up within a few months.

Likewise, we may one day find ourselves, with hindsight, unable to believe that anyone was so stupid or even criminally negligent as to build Auckland on a bunch of volcanoes, one of which was active mere centuries ago. And yet, the risk that those volcanoes could erupt tomorrow doesn't have Gerry Brownlee crapping his pants and squawking that Auckland must be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere.

The same consideration of risk vs benefit has to be made in Christchurch. Its buildings are no more of a threat to life and limb than buildings anywhere else in the country.

Psycho Milt said...

Sorry, Grammar Pedant can't let this howler go by:

The writer of this post used to frequently berate myself for abuse...

I'd look pretty weird berating "myself" for abuse, alright. Try looking up "reflexive pronoun."

JC said...

"ie, blowhard politicians declaring that all old buildings in Christchurch must be demolished, no matter their heritage value."

First off, Brownlee didn't say that, you largely made it up. What Brownlee said was:

"There is a lot of capacity to recover buildings from the historic precinct but beyond that we need to make this place a safe place to live."

And how is that different to what Phil Goff said:

"Goff said two weeks ago they were looking at preserving historic places, but the latest earthquake has changed things.

"Maybe we need to look at half a dozen and preserving those... safety comes first. Eight decades ago Napier had a huge earthquake and they rebuilt the city... that's what we have to do."

Why haven't you directed your wrath at Goff?

JC

Anonymous said...

What a load of self-serving rubbish. Someone said it wasn't up to your usual standard - I beg to disagree, it was.

Psycho Milt said...

First off, Brownlee didn't say that, you largely made it up.

Brownlee: "My absolutely strong position is that the old dungas, no matter what their connection, are going under the hammer." I'm pretty sure I didn't make that up, since I actually saw him saying it on the TV news.

Why haven't you directed your wrath at Goff?

Because Brownlee and Carter are Ministers of the Crown (absolute dictator of New Zealand in Brownlee's case), whereas Goff is just some asshole with an opinion (pretty much like us, when it comes down to it).

What a load of self-serving rubbish.

Yeah, I'm just wanting to avoid seeing Brownlee and Carter flatten what's left of Christchurch because of my direct financial interest in seeing heritage buildings preserved using my taxes. Either that, or... something...

JC said...

"I'm pretty sure I didn't make that up, since I actually saw him saying it on the TV news."

Me too. Then he went on to talk about selecting buildings to save, starting with the Cathedral. I saw that too.
He also said the cathedral was an "iconic building that is going to pose us some particular problems".. and I doubt he meant the act of swinging a wrecking ball at it.

Basically you took one paragraph and spun it up whilst ignoring that Brownlee also covered preserving some buildings, that heritage goes forwards as well as backwards, that it was up to Christchurch folk as to what they built, and that some old buildings would be replicated and officially be new buildings.

Its perfectly obvious that with initial reports indicating about 500 buildings may be condemned in the CBD that Brownlee is right, they have to come down ASAP so that cleanup can commence in safety.

JC

Anonymous said...

So Milt, who do you propose will pay for the restoration of these old buildings? There are better uses for the money than entertaining architectural necrophilia. It is supremely arrogant to expect other to risk their lives and spend millions of their dollars, just so you can glance at old buildings as you drive by.

Psycho Milt said...

Then he went on to talk about selecting buildings to save, starting with the Cathedral. I saw that too.

The fact that Oberriesenspeckfuehrer Brownlee has a few buildings he might deign to protect doesn't affect the content of this post. Those "dungas" have owners, and it's not for him to say what's going to happen to them. The owners of Sydenham Heritage Church already worked to raise half a mil spent on restoring it - it was their decision whether they wanted to start again from scratch, or not.

In the case of the Durham St Methodist Church, someone familiar with the place was telling me its destruction will probably have come as a relief to the board running it, as it will save them the anguish of telling the elderly parishioners there wasn't the money to repair September's damage. That's sad, but it's life - what Brownlee's talking about is something entirely different.

So Milt, who do you propose will pay for the restoration of these old buildings?

Who do you propose will pay for any of the response to this quake? It's a question irrelevant to the post.

Pencarian said...

A predictable response that neatly side steps the huge cost of making crumbly old buildings usable and safe. If you want to see buildings held together with nothing but gravity, I suggest a trip to Europe. We can not preserve these buildings for ever. At what point do we stop throwing money at them, becomes the question. I think we have reached that point now.

JC said...

"Those "dungas" have owners, and it's not for him to say what's going to happen to them."

Correct. The appropriate authorities will supply him with a list of several hundred buildings that need to come down, and then he'll knock them down with the heartfelt approval of most of the building owners who will be able to finally claim insurance and rebuild with something that everyone will feel is safer to shop in than the old dungas.

Indeed, the long term viability of the CBD is dependent on new and safer buildings.

JC


JC

Gooner said...

UPDATE from Granny:

The Minister, Gerry Brownlee, told a media briefing this afternoon that if he had his way, most of Christchurch's heritage buildings would be bowled tomorrow.

He says the old buildings killed people when they toppled during the earthquake and they can not remain.

"While they are part of our past history, they have no place in our future history. As I've said repeatedly, heritage is both forward and back and from this point on, we decide what the heritage of this city will be," he said.

Mr Brownlee said he would like to see resources go into re-building the Christchurch Cathedral, the Catholic Basilica, the Provincial Chambers and the Arts Centre - "but that's it".

"There will be a few others perhaps, but those would be the most iconic buildings that Christchurch residents would want to see rebuilt.

Yesterday, Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton told a media conference this morning that 1000 heritage buildings had been assessed, with 50 per cent receiving red stickers.

Red stickers mean the buildings have been badly damaged and are unsafe for entry.

A total 56,000 properties have received building assessments in the wake of last week's Christchurch earthquake.

Mr Hamilton said of the 3000 buildings assessed in the city centre, 45 per cent had received red stickers.


So 50% of heritage buildings are damaged, and 45% of overall buildings are. I don't see Brownlee arguing for the destruction of those 45%.

Milt is right - those buildings that killed people had codes of compliance and building warrants of fitness. The government and/or the council said they were "ok". But they weren't.

Why does Oberriesenspeckfuehrer Brownlee (thanks Milt) get to decide what is built in the future? Who is this we?

I thought you right wingers were against government dictate on urban design? Or does that only apply when a right winger is in favour of it? If a National cabinet minister dictates what buildings go and what stay, that's okay, because it's National.

Do you know how many of Dave Henderson's buildings were red-stickered after the earthquake?

None.

That's because he doesn't trust the regulations and council guidelines and gets his own earthquake assessments done. His stayed up; those that relied on the Building Act, the regulations and council district plans have crumbled.

I really hope I live to see the day when Kiwis wake up to the fact that answer to failing government rules is not more rules by said government. Somehow I don't think I will, at least while Brownlee and Peter Dunne are running the place.

Anonymous said...

As examples of why these are crap people to have in govt at a time like this, consider the following:

Brownlee: Lives before historic buildings.


Yep, great example.

Check your foot for bullet holes.

Anonymous said...

"Do you know how many of Dave Henderson's buildings were red-stickered after the earthquake?

None."

That's because despite getting bailed out by Christchurch ratepayers (gee that $17m would be handy right about now eh?), he still went belly up and doesn't own much of anything now. What's your source for than claim by the way?

Judge Holden

Anonymous said...

Yep, well meaning stupid lefties in councils bend the rules to allow unsafe "heritage" buildings to stay up.
They may be pretty but they kill when they fall down.
But you seem to happy about murdering people for the sake of art dont you Milt.

Also what JC said.

JC said...

"Why does Oberriesenspeckfuehrer Brownlee (thanks Milt) get to decide what is built in the future? Who is this we?"

He doesn't. Thats why he said its up to the people of Chch.

"Milt is right - those buildings that killed people had codes of compliance and building warrants of fitness."

But these buildings, like most older ones are only required to meet a lower standard (66%). And I am pretty sure that an existing older building cannot be brought up to a much higher standard without more cost than is justified.

Also, if you are the owner of a heritage building that cant be brought right up to standard.. what do you think will happen to your trade over the next few years?

Really? How many modern buildings post 1975 building codes fell down?
Modern buildings performed well.

"I really hope I live to see the day when Kiwis wake up to the fact that answer to failing government rules is not more rules by said government."

Thats good. You agree with Brownlee then who said he saw no immediate need to change earthquake and building codes.

JC

Inventory2 said...

Does anyone else chuckle at the irony and hypocrisy of Redbaiter berating Milt for abuse, having himself just called Tinman "brain-damaged"?

Psycho Milt said...

...he'll knock them down with the heartfelt approval of most of the building owners...

I guess the owners should be glad you and Gerry know what they want, and that Gerry is willing to shoulder the burden of decision-making for them.

A predictable response that neatly side steps the huge cost of making crumbly old buildings usable and safe.

A response predictable because it's correct - the issue is irrelevant to the post. If you're that keen on drawing up accounts before the buildings have even been assessed, perhaps you could consider who will meet the huge cost of demolishing those buildings and putting up new ones in their place? Whatever happens, the buildings' owners, their insurance companies, the ratepayers of Christchurch and the taxpayers of New Zealand are going to drop shitloads of cash for this - exactly what form the spending takes will be up to the locals, not Big Chief Fat Bastard.

As to making buildings "safe," what does that actually mean? Every town in NZ is subject to earthquakes, and every one of them is full of buildings no safer than the PGC building, the CTV building or the Hotel Grand Chancellor, let alone the Durham St Methodist Church. How are you going to make them all "safe?"

Who is this we?

Given that the numbnuts in Parliament voted Gerry absolute ruler of NZ, I guess it's the royal we...

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the "we" is those who have benefitted from hindsight and are capable of smarter planning.

Rebuild Christchurch with this knowledge now.

Put new compliance codes into practice elsewhere as replacement/expansion takes place.

JC said...

"I guess the owners should be glad you and Gerry know what they want, and that Gerry is willing to shoulder the burden of decision-making for them."

Actually, I think Gerry has recognised that the inner city is largely there for tourists, along the lines of the profitable fascination for famous ruins like old Rome, Greece, Great Zimbabwe.
Thats reinforced by the fact that up to 100 of the deaths were of foreigners.

Perhaps Gerry wants something more than a Zombie culture for the CBD.

JC

Anonymous said...

There is more to mourning the loss of architecture from a previous age. It's got a lot more to do with acknowledging the fact that humanity itself is fragile. All the things we aspire to and create can be put on the deck in less than 30 seconds, and us and our neighbours with it. What then for the survivors, whats the meaning of life's struggles and achievements? Many of the world's famous cities were brought down by earthquakes -- Troy, Meggido, Corinth, Ephesis, Rhodes. The populace used the ruins to rebuild or moved out. Bam in Iran was 2000 years old when the 2003 shake flattened it. Given the muslim philosophy they probably grieved, said 'Inshallah' and carried on. I asked my old man about the devastation of Monte Casino and other places he fought; was it right to do such thing to such a historic structure? He just asked what was more important, buildings or people who build such things.

We carried nothing into this world and we carry nothing out of it; memorials to our ages are proven fragile. I personally needed to be reminded of this. Why get upset about a church, a house of worship, being dozed if I never used it? Form will follow function in whatever shape Christchurch takes. If it's crass commerce in it's architectural expression then it just reflects our society. And that is a depressing thing.

George

Flashman said...

What a load of faux sentimental constipated tosh there was compacted into the bowels of the original post.

The twee Edwardian architectural merits of central Christchurch have been expunged.

Deal with it.

Psycho Milt said...

I see your level of reading comprehension remains as it was, Flashman.

Perhaps Gerry wants something more than a Zombie culture for the CBD.

At the risk of repeating myself, what Gerry wants or doesn't want for Christchurch's CBD ought to count for jack shit.

Why get upset about a church, a house of worship, being dozed if I never used it?

Because culture and society are about more than one's own interests and current level of material well-being in the great eternal Now. The baying right-wing Anons of the blogosphere may not understand that, but many do.

JC said...

"Because culture and society are about more than one's own interests and current level of material well-being in the great eternal Now."

Agreed. Thats why Lancaster Park must be the first order of business.

JC

Mr.I.P.Freely said...

We did the South Island defore the quakes and we liked Dunedin far better than ChCh, bealy ave boy racer crap never stay in that area folks,Dunedins cathedral is far better than CHCH, walking into town is more interesting, sorry CHCH we didnt notice the old buildings
PS how did CHCH casino go in the shake, won good money there

Anonymous said...

Well done Pyscho Milt! You have succinctly argued everything I have felt about Brownlee and Carter's 'demolition ball democracy'.

And what's up with the so-called Historic Places Trust wanting to join in the bulldozer worship and flatten the Timeball station? Last I heard, the area round it had been evacuated so it posed no risk to life. Leave it for rebuilding and strengthening, and we'll just live with it if an aftershock brings it down before it's fixed.

Mad Marxist.

Anonymous said...

So let me try to summerise - in an unprecedented emergency, you want the status quo? Why not a tax on puppies?

gravedodger said...

As a student of history albiet passionate if without formal recognition I am saddened by the destruction of so many links with my past in the events of the last 6 months, but unless people gather to save and or restore the iconic buildings by fund raising from the like minded then alas we must allow the diggers to load them onto trucks and say goodbye.
Please dont anybody put your grubby fingers in my pocket to restore my history without my consent and certainly not by compulsion to do good works that please you, impoverish and annoy the christ out of me.
We have suffered a series of events that may not reoccur for centuries but may visit in the next seconds. We miraculously escaped Sept 4th without loss of life then sadly Feb 22nd was not as benign so lets move to a much safer City even without much of our history recorded in our buildings but with new structures that give good chance of survival and record the savable past as buildings, photos and or models of what we lost but please dont spend precious resources on the past.
Psycho, you grew up in Sydenham, a suburb that provided home for many of the families of my wife and me and it was a rich history that causes me a great comfort of a nastalgic past but it is a complete mystery to following generations who only saw it as a slowly dying suburb with many opportunities for redevelopment and progress but not anything worth saving in so many instances.

Psycho Milt said...

I guess it's lucky the govt doesn't actually have to ask first whether it could put its grubby hands in your pocket to do "good works," or Civil Defence in Christchurch would consist of a bunch of volunteers with a shovel.

Leaving aside your blather about the worthlessness of history, the article Gooner linked to points out that 50% of "heritage" buildings are red-stickered, as opposed to 45% of some 3000 buildings of all types assessed in the CBD. You're thinking every single one of these should be bowled rather than repaired, or just the heritage ones? What if their owners don't want them demolished? Do you want the govt to bowl them anyway? If so, can it reach its grubby hands in your pockets to do so? Have you thought about any of this in anything other than a knee-jerk "hands out of my pockets" way?