A call by a Dunedin city councillor for some Christchurch
rebuilding to be shifted to Dunedin has drawn the ire of
Christchurch residents and scorn from Canterbury Earthquake
Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Cr Lee Vandervis raised the prospect in an opinion piece
first published in the Otago Daily Times last week,
and reprinted in Christchurch newspaper The Press on
His argument prompted a storm of criticism, with responses by
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and Ashburton Mayor Angus
McKay, hundreds of online messages - many angrily
anti-Dunedin - and blogs criticising Cr Vandervis' view.
Cr Vandervis was sticking to his guns yesterday, telling the
ODT the public outcry showed Christchurch residents
were living "in denial" about the seismic reality facing
Mr Parker's response, arguing the earthquakes instead
represented a new beginning for the city, also showed he was
living "in dreamland", Cr Vandervis said.
The southern stoush continued to escalate yesterday when Mr
Brownlee waded in, saying Cr Vandervis' "somewhat
ill-informed" argument was - like the earthquakes -
distressing for the people of Christchurch.
"I just think it's terribly tragic that a Dunedin city
councillor can only see a future of Dunedin by being a pariah
on someone else's misfortune.
"It's distressing enough for people in Christchurch to have
to go through the difficulties that the earthquake events
continue to present, without actually scaring them completely
by suggesting that they're going to have to relocate to
He said expert geotechnical analysis clearly showed
Christchurch could be rebuilt, and the city's economy and
people were standing up well in the face of adversity.
"The activity there is very, very strong and the will to
rebuild is also very strong." Cr Vandervis' argument won some
support from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday.
Cr Vandervis' views were those of only one councillor - not
the city - but had "some credibility" from a geological
perspective, given continued seismic activity in the area, Mr
It would be wise for the Government to consider spreading the
risk, rather than concentrating key facilities and
infrastructure in Christchurch, he believed. "But I don't
think it should be just Dunedin [that benefited]," Mr Cull
Speaking earlier, Cr Vandervis said he was being deliberately
provocative to try and prompt national debate about the
merits of rebuilding Christchurch.
He believed money destined to rebuild Government offices and
key Christchurch infrastructure - such as the Lyttelton Port
- should instead be spent in Dunedin.
The continued relocation of the New Zealand Transport
Agency's Christchurch office - shifted five times in the last
year - was an example of the "madness" of rebuilding in
Christchurch, Cr Vandervis said.
He apologised if his comments had upset Christchurch
residents, but said he had no regrets about raising the issue
and denied his comments risked damaging Dunedin's brand.