Former children's TV star Ollie Ohlson is launching a High
Court legal battle after being left disgruntled that his
earthquake-ravaged Canterbury home was deemed a 'repair' by
his insurance company.
The former After School frontman is being forced out
of his Brooklands home, 15km north of Christchurch on the
banks of a lagoon at the Waimakariri rivermouth, after the
entire suburb was red-zoned.
Many Brooklands residents are disgusted by insurance firm
decisions to pay out for the cost of repairs, rather than
like-for-like replacements on new sites.
Mr Ohlson says insurance companies are being allowed to get
away with the "morally corrupt" practice, and has vowed to
take them and the Government to the High Court to reverse the
"People have been lied to, deceived and badly treated by
those in power, including the Government, the insurers, city
council, and Cera (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Authority)," he said.
"I'm worried it will continue unless we do something about
it. They must not be allowed to get away with it."
The minimum legal costs will be $30,500, Mr Ohlson says, but
he fears they could double.
So, he has now launched a unique 'Project Red Zone'
fundraiser on the PledgeMe website to try to cover the bill
for him, and others, to go to court.
To encourage donations, he has vowed to personally respond to
every big-hearted backer in an unusual way.
For a pledge of $5-plus, he will send the donor a hand-signed
For a donation of more than $30, he will send out a
personally signed picture postcard of himself, and for
$100-plus, he will go on video-sharing website YouTube and
thank them personally while holding a photograph of them.
For any generous backer who wants to pledge $1000, the
entertainer says he will write them a song and "personally
sing it on You Tube with your picture in shot too."
Mr Ohlson, a pensioner, says he's aware of the financial
risks in taking any legal action against the insurers, but he
says "that risk is worthwhile taking".
"They're being allowed to get away with it. Now that's
absolutely wrong," he said.
"There's a risk to that, because I've been a superannuitant
for over three years, I can't afford to take things to the
High Court. But that's what we're willing to do."
A victory in the High Court would set a legal precedent, he
said, adding that the situation affected everyone in New
Zealand because "earthquakes are not going to go away".