We CAn Rebuild Hope




************  Media Release ************

************  Media Release ************

Call for an Independent Advocacy Commission

Insurance Companies Respond to Survey

WeCan! the Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network today called for an independent Advocacy Commission with the powers to act on behalf of residents at the mercy of the Insurance companies and CERA.  “There is a need to address the imbalance of power between the householder and the big corporates and government agencies – we are being taken to the cleaners – its time for some transparency, honesty and accountability.” says WeCan! spokesperson Rev Mike Coleman.

WeCan! today published the responses of the main Insurance companies to eight questions that affect the costing of repairs.  Coleman says, “It is evident that there are significant differences between companies, and between what they say at head office and what they do on the ground.” Download Matrix

“We made it clear in our letter that we intended to publish the results ‘to assist our members in the settlement of their insurance claims and to make informed choices when selecting their long-term provider of choice for home insurance.’  At present people in greater Christchurch are locked into their current provider, but the day will come when that will change and householders will remember their experience and that of their neighbours and vote with their feet.”

The survey highlights a big difference between AMI and the other providers regarding the disclosure of itemised costings.  AMI refuses to disclose these rates and costs and only releases the global figure in offers to red zone residents.  “This makes it almost impossible to challenge these figures, even with an independent Quantity Surveyor’s assessment.  We believe that AMI is failing its contractual obligation to act in good faith with its clients in taking this stance.”

The survey also reveals that there is no safe way yet to replace ring foundations and re-pile a home in situ with the home jacked up.  Yet many insurance costings are not allowing for homes to be lifted, moved and stored while this work is undertaken. 

Recent changes to the building guidelines in the different zones means that existing cost schedules are now unlikely to fully account for the cost of compliance.  This has been acknowledged by AMI in it’s response.  It is also clear from the survey that there is yet no agreed means to reconcile big differences between EQC and Insurance company assessments of costs.

“One of our members in the orange zone was verbally given two figures for the repairs to their house – a ‘red zone figure’ and then a ‘green zone figure’ which was substantially higher.  We are firmly of the belief that insurance offers based on repairs to red zone homes are well under what it will actually cost insurance companies to repair those homes if they were zoned green.  This is a deliberate ploy to get householders to accept the CERA offer for their home.” says Coleman.

WeCan! is organising a ‘Show your Colour Crusade’ at 2pm on Saturday 19 November at Cranmer Square to press for an independent Advocacy Commission.  “Not only to hold insurance companies to account but also the government, CERA and agencies like EQC and Fletchers.  Enough is enough”, says Coleman.

Download insurance Matrix file

WeCan! – the Wider Earthquake Communities’ Action Network – has just been launched by the network of individuals and community groups that has been organising the series of red zone rallies. Register Here

Spokesman Rev Mike Coleman explained the objectives of the new group, “we aim to publicly highlight the injustices and issues affecting residents following the Canterbury earthquakes.  We will openly challenge decisions, policies and practices that disadvantage a community’s recovery from the earthquakes, and actively promote and support equitable, just and visionary solutions for all.”

Coleman says that some of those worst effected by the Canterbury Earthquakes are being unfairly treated.  In particular he points to issues with insurance companies not honouring their industry’s own Fair Insurance Code, the unfairness of Rateable values where there is demonstrable undervaluation, the lack of affordable rehousing options in a distorted real estate market, the lack of transparency around land zoning decisions and the lack of certainty regarding the future use of the red zone lands.

“WeCan! will monitor and hold to account Government, CERA, Insurance companies and any other agencies and forums tasked with earthquake recovery responsibilities. We will do this by active protest such as rallies, media interventions, marches, and direct action”, says Coleman.

“We are not politically aligned and will challenge the policies and practices of any political party or government department where they disadvantage residents or communities.  However make no mistake we are political with a small “p”, we intend to take action for change.”

Coleman says that WeCan! recognises and supports the work of CanCERN (Canterbury Communities Earthquake Recovery Network) but also acknowledges the constraints it now works within “inside the tent”.  “We are not setting up in opposition to CanCERN but to complement it by working in parallel.  A lot of community groups and residents associations are members of both organisations”.

Register with WeCan, to be kept informed of future rallies, the latest information being released about Canterbury’s Earthquake Recovery


Rev Mike Coleman  027 392 8278

Other WeCan! Contacts: 

Evan Smith 029 739 9796

Brent Cairns 027 222 4767

Some of those worst effected by the Canterbury EarthQuakes are being unfairly treated

Rateable Value must provide a just valuation for your CERA offers: are you getting a fair deal for your Red Zoned land? Can you demonstrate significant undervaluation eg receipts for extensive renovations that don’t change the footprint of your home since the valuation, or proof, by way of a sale and purchase agreement, that you will be seriously impacted if you accept the government offer to buy your land? If so we let us collect data so we can get the government to change the current policy, send us some details by email to rvalues@wecan-nz.com

We expect transparency from the government department CERA, when it comes to why homes have been zoned Green or Red?

Insurance companies must honour the Fair Insurance Code. That means transparency and fairness around costings for repairs and rebuilds. If you have a horror insurance story, let us know, we are collecting data to lobby the government to change the current policy. Please email details to insurance@wecan-nz.com ...Thank you

If you want to be rezoned you need to write to CERA and ask for your property to be re-assessed...send an email to landinfo@cera.govt.nz with your contact details and address.

The availability and affordability of re-housing options must be improved in Christchurch, Waimakariri, and Selwyn districts. Canterbury faces one of the most distorted property markets due to the red zoning of more than 6000 properties.  We need access to homes, sections, rebuild packages that are insurable and that we can afford.  Is your CERA/Insurance offers enough to enable you to do this – let us know: email affordability@wecan-nz.com

Certainty must be given regarding the future use of the red zone lands.  Do you support the land being rezoned as public reserve lands in perpetuity? For example as Avon River Park in Christchurch:

  visit http://www.avonotakaronetwork.co.nz/

Earthquake related links:










Register with WeCan, to be kept informed of future rallies, the latest information being released about Canterbury’s Earthquake Recovery

We Can was developed by Evan Smith, Rev Mike Coleman and Brent & Shirley Cairns

If you would like to make contact with WeCan

email info@wecan-nz.com


Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network or WeCan!

Is a network of individuals and community groups that aim to:

Publicly highlight injustices and issues affecting residents following the Canterbury earthquakes

Openly challenge decisions, policies and practices that disadvantage a community or resident’s recovery from the earthquakes

Actively promote and support equitable, just and visionary solutions for all.

Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network or WeCan!


********** Media Release April 2012 **********

Christchurch is in crisis.

The crisis is multifaceted and needs urgent Government response.

WeCan!, together with organisations across the city, are calling on immediate government intervention in a number of crisis issues creating enormous anguish and pain for the people of Canterbury.

The situation in Canterbury is getting worse by the day. We are seeing:

People living in garages

Rental accommodation prices forcing people onto the street

Unaffordable house prices selling $50 – 100,000 above rateable value

People battling insurance companies and EQC with little satisfaction

Bizarre land decisions but no right of review

Red zone residents forced from their homes before alternatives are available

Unreasonable deadlines on red zoners creating enormous stress

Little new land on the market inflating existing prices

People paying rental and mortgage payments yet being forced to pay rates.

“It makes you wonder if the Prime Minister has forgotten us. He has left us with an Earthquake Recovery Minister who says he is unaware there is a crisis,” spokesperson Rev Mike Coleman said.

“Groups across Canterbury are questioning whether Mr Brownlee has the capacity to handle this situation, especially when he fails to listen and engage in any real community dialogue. How can he be the Recovery Minister when he fails to listen to the people most in need?” states Rev Coleman.

WeCan! believes the crisis is deepening and impacting Christchurch, Kaiapoi, Brooklands and neighbouring areas and will only get worse in coming months and years. As it seems Mr Brownlee is unaware of the crisis we have listed in this media release the major issues needing urgent attention with fair and reasonable suggestions as a way forward.

“If Mr Brownlee still sees no need to intervene we call on the Prime Minister to step in…perhaps John Key cares about the plight of people in Canterbury?” states Rev Mike Coleman, spokesperson for WeCan!.

The major crisis issues needing to be immediately addressed by the Government are:


Key Issues: Unacceptable rent rises putting people out of their homes. A distorted market is putting prices beyond the reach of people who are being forced from quake hit homes with no alternatives in place. As it stands there is no social/low cost housing solution for marginalised, low-income and retired people.

Reasonable Way Forward

Cap on rental increases to prevent price gouging.

Suspend red zone deadlines so displaced homeowners can stay in their homes until their new homes are rebuilt and options sorted (there has only been time for WeCan to endorse this given time restraints)

Land on city fringes fast tracked not drip fed onto the market

Pressure on the City Council to take immediate action on new affordable land developments within the urban limits like Highfield in the North East of the city

Pressure on Housing NZ and City Council to take immediate action to repair social housing

Pressure on Insurance Companies to begin the rebuild of new housing stock. They have delayed long enough!!

Insurance Companies

Issues: Square metre rates offered to homeowners at way below accepted norms. People are having rebuild assessments unfairly overturned to repair payouts using the changes in assessment criteria.

Accommodation allowances are being unfairly cut by some insurance companies using questionable reasoning

Reasonable Way Forward

Unreasonable insurance companies like IAG which includes State Insurance are taken aside pressurising them to adhere to acceptable norms. 

Insurance Companies are required to honour the full replacement policies people have paid for over the years

Pressure on the Insurance Council to improve the accountability within the Insurance profession, including brokers.

Earthquake Commission (EQC)

Issues: The issues around apportionment and EQC’s assessment methodology is creating major distortions to people’s outcomes. EQC are artificially keeping people under cap. People are being prevented from accessing rebuilds their policies have guaranteed them.

WeCan! strongly reaffirms CanCern’s way forward presented in their media release earlier this month

CanCern’s Reasonable Way Forward

Instruct EQC to align their interpretation of ‘replacement value’ with the homeowner’s insurance policy.

Within the next four weeks, government should mediate a universal agreement between EQC and the insurers to allow a homeowner to be paid out the agreed total damage figure without having to wait for the internal disputes to be reconciled.

Immediately convene a working group involving insurers, EQC, PMOs, local authorities and relevant government departments to develop Canterbury specific standardised repair methods and cost ranges that can be applied consistently.


Issues: People are living in homes with no damage having never lost infrastructure services. They want to stay on their land. People are on land with huge damage and want to leave. People in white zones have been given no information. The people on Technical Category 3 (blue) land feel in total limbo. There is no right of review on any of CERA’s decisions regarding zoning no matter how absurd the decision

Reasonable Way Forward

People need to have a right of review of their zoning decision which includes a release of all relevant information leading to the decision. In a number of districts there is no reason why people need to be forced from their homes.

We are asking the Government for full and transparent disclosure of information

CERA and EQC needs to provide clarity over the time frames and implications for TC3 homes

“WeCan! wants the government to honour CERA legislation which clearly states they will ‘enable community participation in the planning of the recovery of affected communities.’


Issue - Red zoners are stressed and being forced to make decisions while they are in battles with insurance companies and EQC. They do not have two offers in front of them from which to make decisions. They are also being given an arbitrary date of April 2013 to leave their properties when few if any will have their new homes built in time.

Reasonable Way forward

The Government must immediately suspend the time frames by which displaced people have to be out of their homes to allow people to weigh up options and find alternatives.

It is very reasonable for a home owner waiting for a house to be built to have the option to stay in their existing home.


Rev Mike Coleman   027 392 8278

Other WeCan! Contacts

Brent Cairns   027 222 4767

June 2012

Private property ownership is the foundation upon which our legal system, our society and our economy rests.  New Zealand is a country full of hard-working people as well as innovative entrepreneurs who are the engines of our economy. We rely on the seemingly solid legal framework that protects the earnings from our work everyday. What’s rightfully yours or mine should not be taken or severely restricted by the government  without any legal redress.


But that’s what is happening right now.


Removal of our basic legal rights is happening in the aftermath of our nation’s greatest natural disaster: the Canterbury earthquakes.


The most powerful law passed since World War II, CERA Legislation (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act), provides one person Hon Gerry Brownlee with unprecedented powers. However well-intended the law might be, the reality of these powers gives rise to serious injustice, ie "Ultimate power corrupts"


One issue specifically impacts on the lives of individual homeowners.


Home ownership is one of the cornerstones which many New Zealanders have worked hard to achieve.


What we are witnessing right now may be later regarded by history as the pivotal moment for or against our most basic of rights, after life and liberty.


1. The very notion of zoning which areas are allowed to repair and rebuild is a violation of our civil liberties. The basic freedom of choosing where and how we live, for purposes that do not impact the public’s health or safety, is being thrown out of the window. The zoning has targeted low cost land owners, families and elderly that are the most vulnerable and with less means to fight the system.


2. The action of zoning an area not allowed to rebuild interferes with the private contractual rights of home insurance. Homeowners in these areas cannot exercise their full contractual rights because of the zoning imposed on their property by government. They have been denied the right to a judicial review (section 68 of the CERA legislation, there is no right of appeal against a decision of the Minister or the Chief Executive) surely the right of a appeal is a corner stone to the process of natural justice. 


3. The supposedly voluntary buyout offer is structured in such a way that it is in effect, compulsory, conveniently bypassing existing laws that regulate taking of land by government. With threats from government that services will either not be repaired or be removed, whilst families are still living in the areas. We are talking about over 7200 families that are being effectively evicted from their homes.


There are times when government must take property in the conduct of providing services to citizens, but it must do so only when there is no other just alternative, and done to give everyone a fair deal. Compensation has been determined by one person, and one person alone and again we are unable to request a judicial review. The level of compensation has only taken into regard for market value, for most, regard has meant they have lost $100-300K in equity, whilst some families have resorted to sleep and live in theirs cars, garages and sheds.


The taking of property by government should also be open to public scrutiny and be subject to oversight. A natural disaster should not be used as an excuse to discard the democratic process. Public officials must be held accountable by citizens from whom they derive their power.


All New Zealanders must strongly support the right of every home owner to choose their own destiny. The danger of government having too much power is far too real for any New Zealander to ignore. 

There were safeguards written into the legislation. ie "to enable community participation in the planning of the recovery of affected communities" yet this and other purposes of the recovery legislation have been all but ignored when it has come to the decision making process of the Minister and CERA, leaving effected residents feeling marginalized and disenfranchised. 

We have approached the Prime Minister, the Ombudsman, Hon G Brownlee, CERA, New Zealand Human Rights, local ministers...however the CERA legislation has been written to negate our most basic of rights, that of Natural Justice and Human Rights...we have less rights than those of a person charged with a crime of murder.

WeCan has developed a template for any citizen to write to the the United Nations Human Rights and request they investigate...

This government, this legislation, The Earthquake Recovery Minister and the ethics behind his decisions must be questioned, we have exhausted all national avenues, now it is time to go International. 

We ask that you distribute this template to everyone on your database...Thank you


The template has portions in red, these portions you remove and add in your own contact details, ideas, feelings and evidence. We have tried to cover as many injustices as possible as it relates to what we belief are breaches of our International Human Rights By New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Earthquake Recovery Minister Brownlee, CERA.

United Nations Submission Template.doc