Garry Moore: The battle with EQC still rages

It’s not only the little guy who struggles with EQC and insurance companies over earthquake repairs. Former mayor Garry Moore battles on too.
"We have had some wonderful people within Southern Response and Arrow we have worked with, but the bureaucracy is unbelievable," writes Garry Moore. Photo / Christchurch Star
"We have had some wonderful people within Southern Response and Arrow we have worked with, but the bureaucracy is unbelievable," writes Garry Moore. Photo / Christchurch Star

People in the North Island, quite sincerely, often ask me how we are getting on now that the earthquakes have stopped.

They ask what's it like now that the city is rebuilt?

It's hard to answer without sounding a moaner. I mumble that it's slowly coming right.

Most people can't believe that our family still lives in a house which our insurance company is fighting us over. They think it's all sorted out. I smile nicely and say no it's not, for us, and many thousands of other people.

Pam and I aren't any different from anybody else. It took five years to get out of EQC's clutches. Each time they sent another set of "assessors" to our place, things kept being taken off the list.

The number of piles which needed replacing. Pre-existing damage etc etc.

I reckoned if we waited enough years we would be given a bill from EQC for what we owed them for being frauds and even pretending that there had been an earthquake.

So we engaged a professional and had a cadastral study done on our house. The earthquakes have taught us heaps of things we didn't know about before. I had never heard of a cadastral survey. Anyway we got one and all of a sudden our knowledge of how damaged our house was (who were we to have an opinion we have now only lived here for 37 years) proven correct and EQC paid out fully and sent us to Southern Response.

Yippee.

The first team we worked with at SR were terrific. They had the best analysis of our house yet. Then somebody decided that the team we were working with had to be changed. We resisted this.

However, over the next few months, this still happened. We have had some wonderful people within SR and Arrow we have worked with, but the bureaucracy is unbelievable. Everything seems to be complicated.

During this process we have engaged our own lawyer, Grant Cameron and his staff member Laura Stone have been fantastic. We have again paid for another engineering report because SR were stuffing us around. We gave a briefing to our engineer: "Please tell us about our foundations."

His team came back inside a week and said: "They need total replacement."

SR then decided that they wanted another engineer to check our engineer's findings. At this point I failed the test of the reasonable man on the Clapham Omnibus (look that one up on Google).

SR backed down and said that they would only get a "desktop" study done. Well these engineers were even more emphatic than our ones and strengthened the recommendations. I might note that I think we have had nine engineering reports on our house so far. Now SR have accepted we need new foundations . . .

So when somebody, quite genuinely asks how we are getting on, I pause and think about nine people in our house a few week's ago.

One team was to assess what needed to be done to restore the house. Another team, led by a person who had failed the politeness test at Sunday School, was looking at a rebuild. One man, with a camera, was assessing pre-existing damage. How the hell he did his job I wouldn't know as we haven't done a thing to our house now for six years. It's a mess. I guess that will be another fight!

I have to say I found all these people in our house intimidating. I'm hardly a shrinking violet.

Imagine if I respected bureaucracies and took their word for what they were doing? What if we had accepted the full and final offer EQC made to us of $44K?

What if we were an old person who was just tired and intimidated by the whole process? What if we were a widow, on her own, who believed that EQC were genuine and that $44K would fix her house?

How many people like this have been sucked in by EQC and insurance company cost-cutting?

So, when I was asked how we were getting on I just smile now. They wouldn't believe me if I told them what is really happening to us down here. They'd say we were making it up. I could tell them that we are just one of heaps of families in this situation.

Nah. I'll just smile and be grateful that they care enough to ask.

• Garry Moore operates The Tuesday Club, a forum for the public to listen to and engage with the city's innovators and leaders.

Where: Smash Palace bar (opposite C1 café), High St, Christchurch, Tuesdays from 5.30-7pm.

- Christchurch Star

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