Saturday 19th November saw over 400 Christchurch residents come together to express their frustrations and demand an accountable response for the earthquake ravaged City of Garden's.
After a number of speeches at Latimer Square the crowed marched to CERA's head office. Chants steadily grew louder and angrier as the people got closer to the front doors. The noise was suddenly replaced with a hush as Reverend Mike Coleman read out a statement by the Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network. WECAN are demanding a legitimate body of the people for the people to moderate, represent and bring an end to EQ Minister Gerry Brownlee's cowboy grandstanding.
The statement was then nailed to a 2.5 metre cross to signify the cities anger and condemnation of the official response so far. TV3 News article here.
What struck the A.C.E team was the coming together of a number of groups and individuals. A husband and wife had teamed up with their neighbours and dressed up as hang men, with black hoods covering their faces, they carried a coffin with the words "Death by STATE insurance" printed on the sides. We also saw a large group from the Occupy Christchurch camp arrive with flags and banners which brought life and energy to proceedings. The newly formed Otautahi Solidarity Network also made their presence felt while union delegates, heads of church and local aid agencies all stood as one.
A spokeswoman from the Occupy Christchurch group
mentioned "the earthquake response has been a corporate sponsored event, the highest bidder scored the biggest contracts, kicking out any local or community influence. This is what Occupy is all about; taking back our communities one step at a time."
Looking at the Otautahi Solidarity Network Blog
it doesn't take long to see the similarities between these groups and realise that there is a rapidly emerging resistance in our city:
"With no membership fee and with only the fire in our belly’s, we are the cities fastest growing movement. Our aim? To support and empower those that are being bullied by bosses and landlords, to foster and encourage community projects and to help create a community strong enough to reclaim its homes, streets and workplaces."
In recent days a further 400 Christchurch hundred homes discovered they had been declared red zoned. In nine months they will be forced from their houses and given payouts well below the value of their land and property. The Brooklands Residence Association chairwoman Annette Buxton made it clear in her interview on TV One
that there are many who are prepared to stay on and fight.
The speed in which events, newly forged relationships and news of further destruction of our city means that reports from the Action for Christchurch East are likely to be coming out thick and fast. The dots are beginning to be connected, international movements have landed in our parks and community action groups are finding their feet - if we can all find enough common ground we could be witnessing a dramatic shift in how our city decides its future.
Keep your eyes peeled for up and coming events