21 Sep 2018

Displaced Kaikoura residents want payout but council has no money

From Checkpoint, 5:39 pm on 21 September 2018

A small quake-hit settlement north of Kaikōura is accusing the government of discrimination.

A dangerous cliff in Rakautara has forced five homeowners out of their homes or holiday homes, after it rained boulders down on them during the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.

The residents want to be paid out and leave, but the local council doesn't have the money to do it even with a government contribution.

Jo and Les Davidson, who are one of the five affected home, told Checkpoint the government needed to stop treating them like second-class citizens and come up with more cash like it did after the Christchurch earthquake.

"I think there is a discrimination against a small community," said Ms Davidson.

"We just want to be treated the same."

The couple were in a meeting [https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018662613/quake-hit-rakautara-residents-say-no-to-moving-back between the Kaikōura District Council and five homeowners] in Rakautara last week.

Their home once belonged to their father and they used to holiday there several times a year.

The homes have section 124 notices on them, and the council, at this time, has no intention of taking them away due to the risk from the cliff.

The government is giving $1.5 million to the Kaikōura District Council to solve land hazard issues - 15 properties in total across the district are affected.

All residents Checkpoint spoke to wanted to be paid out, like the government did for Christchurch red-zone land owners in the years following the 2011 earthquake.

Thousands of Christchurch homes were bought by the government at a cost of about $1.5 billion under the now defunct Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

But in Kaikōura, $1.5m is clearly not enough to pay out fifteen properties - it equated to $100,000 each.

Jo and Les Davidson believed the government needed to provide more money.

"We feel that central government has an obligation to treat us with the same dignity and respect that they treated people in Christchurch," said Ms Davidson.

The Kaikōura District Council itself is in no place to help financially, [https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018654204/kaik-ura-council-backs-away-from-17-percent-rates-rise having struggled to keep rates rises manageable] earlier this year.

It ultimately drained the majority of its $1m rainy day fund to do so.

During last week's meeting, the council's chief executive, Angela Oosthuizen, promised to relay the resident's "sentiments" to the government.

"Since that meeting last week we have been having conversations with senior staff at the Department of Internal Affairs," Ms Oosthuizen said.

"We have also had a meeting with Kaikōura recovery steering group.

"We shared all of the information that was spoken about last week, and we definitely raised all of the points that were made by the Rakautara residents."

Ms Oosthuizen would not comment of the residents' accusation the government was being discriminatory.

Previous communication between Checkpoint and the Government on this issue has involved several government ministers, EQC minister Megan Woods, Civil Defence minister Kris Faafoi, and Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Checkpoint contacted all of these minister's offices yesterday morning asking for interviews. There were no responses.

Ms Oosthuizen said she hoped the council would make a decision as to what to do soon.