Emotional end to CTV inquiry

4:05 pm on 9 September 2012

A two-month inquiry into the collapse of the Canterbury TV building concluded on Friday with an emotional submission from the daughter of a victim.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission looked at why the Canterbury Television building in central Christchurch pancaked in the 6.3-magnitude quake in February 2011, killing 115 people.

Marwa Alakaisi, whose mother worked as a doctor in a medical clinic housed in the building, told the three commissioners the lives of her family have been turned upside down.

She says she thinks about her mother every day.

"When I have a bad day I crave a hug, just a hug from her to make things just a little better. I dream about her often. I had a dream recently where I saw her and held her hand and begged her to stay and not leave me alone.

"It hurts so much to know that I will never see her beautiful face again."

Ms Alakaisi's statement left dozens of people at the inquiry - including legal teams - in tears and she told commissioners the hearing had been stressful and heartbreaking.

A lawyer representing the families of those who died told the hearing that the CTV building failed in "the most horrible and catastrophic way".

Marcus Elliot said the 26-year-old building demonstrated the "most complete and utter failure of any building in Christchurch".

He told commissioners that while the city is rebuilding, there are still those who wake up every day and ask why they have lost loved ones.

The families desperately want to know why this particular building collapsed and whether someone could have done something to make a difference, he said.

Company owner's experience questioned

Earlier, the lawyer defending the man who designed the CTV building argued that it might have been his client's employer who was too inexperienced for the job.

Michael Kirkland was representing David Harding, who created the structural drawings for the building while working for Alan Reay, whose company Alan Reay Consultants designed the building.

Mr Harding has previously given evidence that he was too inexperienced to design building calculations for a multi-storey building.

But in his final submission on Friday, Mr Harding's lawyer told the inquiry that it might have been Dr Reay who was too inexperienced to take on the complex job.

Mr Kirkland also said that there were tensions between employer and employee and they had little in common.

Lawyers for the Christchurch City Council, which approved the design of the building, defended its staff.

Duncan Laing told the commissioners the council accepts that the building did not comply with certain elements of the building code of the day.

However, he said the design was complex and assumptions that council staffers were not skilled enough to question it should not be made.

Too little evidence on other quakes - Reay

On Friday, Alan Reay released a statement following the conclusion of the hearing.

It said there has been too little evidence on the contribution that the September and Boxing Day earthquakes in 2010 had on the CTV building's integrity.

Dr Reay also reiterated his position that if the structural design of the building is found to have caused its collapse, that he accepts responsibility for that.