Christchurch red zone rebuild: 'We've got a long way to go'

The demolition of MFL House on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets. Photo / Geoff Sloan
The demolition of MFL House on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Almost one year on from the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, buildings still lie in ruins in the red zone at the city's centre.

Newspapers from February 22 sit in abandoned shops, dried up flowers wilter on the footpath as tributes to lost loved ones and, at the heart of it all, the Christ Church Cathedral still remains broken.

But progress is where it should be one year on, CERA has said.

The media were allowed into the red zone today to see the state of the central city ahead of next week's quake anniversary.

CERA general manager of operations Warwick Isaacs said he was happy with what progress had been made in the last year.

"As far as progress goes I think, by international comparisons, we are ahead of where we would be expected to be. It has largely gone as we had planned-starting in Cashel Mall and then going north and east.

We've got a long way to go but I'm very happy with where we have got to a year on."

CERA CEO Roger Sutton was remaining equally positive.

"Sometimes it feels like we haven't made any progress but if you look at where we've come from in those days and weeks since February 22 I do feel a sense of satisfaction."

However, the media tour came after CERA announced they may not make their April 1 deadline for lifting the entire cordon, as more buildings have been identified as dangerous.

Mr Isaacs said today they were having "a little bit of difficulty" with the cordons.

"A lot of buildings we thought were going to stay are now going to be demolished. Madras St is a good example; we had hoped to open it up soon, but now we've had to do more work on a building we thought was ok. It's going to take a while."

Although on-going aftershocks were impeding progress, Mr Isaac said they were going as "hard and fast" as they could.

"We're going to get as much done by Easter as we can. We want the public to be able to have confidence when they come back in and we obviously don't want people to be hurt by buildings left behind. We're making it as safe as we can."

The tour stopped at several sites in the red zone, including the site of the PGC building, the CTV building site, Cathedral Square and High St.

For ex-CTV journalist Emily Cooper it was the first time she has been so close to the CTV site since she left on the morning of February 22, just hours before the deadly quake struck.

"It's good to be back here but it's barely recognisable. It's nice to be able to pay my respects- a site like that needs to be treated with respect."

- CHRISTCHURCH STAR

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