Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has warned local authorities to do everything they can to protect against an earthquake, saying he is scared to be in the capital.
Speaking at opening of the Emergency Management Conference in Wellington, Parker regaled those attending with a graphic description of the Christchurch earthquakes.
He made delegates bang loudly on their tables for a full 45 seconds to illustrate the first shake in September 2010, stating no civil defence plan on Earth could prepare you for the first minutes of a huge earthquake.
Councils had known for decades that buildings would be unsafe in an earthquake, but every time the issue was tackled the huge costs involved had made things too difficult.
Building owners had always complained that the price to strengthen their buildings was too high and small businesses would cease to exist if the work was done.
But Parker urged delegates to take the problem seriously as another earthquake would strike and again take lives.
"If I'm really really honest with you that's the first thing you can do, be honest with people about the seismic risk.
"I come to Wellington and I'm scared to be here. People will say that's crazy, that's just Bob, he's been through 18 months of hell but there's nothing like that feeling of being absolutely bulletproof until it happens to you.
"What price is a human life, are you going to be more worried about the buildings or the people? My jaded view, ladies and gentlemen."
He also took a swipe at the Government's earthquake recovery organisation Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), saying Christchurch would likely be better off in the future if there was more local involvement.
While he said he believed the Cera system was working, the country should learn from the situation.
A number of overseas experts had said that Christchurch as a city that "had to take control of its own future".
"It [Cera] scares me a bit because it's so comprehensive."