21 Feb 2016

CERA? SCIRT? TC3 and Red Zone?

6:49 pm on 21 February 2016

Do you know your jack and pack from your twinkletoes? What's the difference between TC3 and the red zone? Is CERA wearing the SCIRT in Christchurch?

A sign expressing some people's attitude in Christchurch to the Earthquake Commission.

A sign expressing some people's attitude in Christchurch to the Earthquake Commission. Photo: RNZ

If you have no idea what the above is about then chances are you wouldn't be able to hold a conversation with any Cantabrian who has lived through five years of quake jargon and government acronyms entering their everyday language.

Here's a quick rundown of words and phrases which might leave people outside of Christchurch scratching their heads.


As in "if the country had a dollar for every time someone described the people of Christchurch as resilient the rebuild would be paid for''.

Sir Bob Parker, mayor of Christchurch at the time of the earthquakes, would tell everyone how "resilient'' the people in the region were, how they had dealt with so much and they would all move forward.

In fact everyone has said Cantabrians are resilient. Gerry Brownlee, Lianne Dalziel, John Key, even Prince William paid tribute to the people of Christchurch and their resilience.


Graffiti in Christchurch red zone

Graffiti in Christchurch red zone Photo: The Wireless/Julian Vares


As in "Christchurch is munted'' as said by everyone in the city. All the time since the quakes.


Driving around Christchurch it sometimes feels as if you're on an episode of The Amazing Race. Every day the roads change; you can drive down a central city street one day and the next it will be closed or has changed to one way.

The key lesson in this: do not rely on GPS in Christchurch.

Christchurch intersection.

Christchurch intersection. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson


The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, CERA not Sarah!

The authority was set up by the government following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Its sole purpose "to provide leadership and coordination for the ongoing recovery effort".

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Basically it was in charge of zoning the land, the cordons which were put in place in Christchurch's CBD following the February 2011 shake, and demolishing all the damaged buildings.

Tasked with a lot of jobs, CERA is pretty important, and it has its own chief executive, but the authority reports back to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, who has been dubbed the Earthquake Tsar by some in the city.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel  and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee at the announcement of the next phase in the rebuild of Christchurch.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Gerry Brownlee announce Regenerate Christchurch in September 2015. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy


CCDU stands for Christchurch Central Development Unit.

Yet another acronym. What is more confusing is that CCDU is simply an arm of the CERA body. (See above).

The unit's main purpose is to oversee the development of anchor projects outlined in the blueprint released in July 2012.

Of the 19 listed we've cut the ribbon on the Hagley Cricket Oval, the Bus Exchange and the Margaret Mahy Playground.

The Margaret Mahy playground.

The Margaret Mahy playground. Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon


If you want to know about pipes or any infrastructure in Christchurch, then the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) is where you go.

In easy terms, led by the council, CERA and the Transport Authority, SCIRT fix the roads and the pipes under the road.


In the least scientific way possible: liquefaction pops out of the ground after the earth shakes so violently it forces sand and silt to the surface. You'll know it when you see it.

In fact the first time you see it, you won't actually know it, but believe me by the third, fourth, 10th time, you'll be very familiar with identifying liquefaction.

Liquefaction following a swarm of earthquakes in Christchurch in December 2011.

Liquefaction in Christchurch in December 2011. Photo: RNZ / Bridget Mills

It can cause the land around it to sink or rise, and causes huge damage to houses and roads.


Yes there is still such a thing - some people seem to think the rebuild is finished. Ha! One playground opening does not a city make. There is still a bit to do.

So when the earthquake happened there were two redzones. First the central city where CERA put up fences and the army came to make sure everyone stayed away.

The second was the residential redzone. Again CERA decided how damaged the land was and zoned it.

It's still unclear what will happen in the redzone but ideas floated include a native forest, parks and recreation areas.

Liquefaction in the Christchurch red zone.

Houses in Christchurch red zone. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

TC1, TC2, and TC3

Just to confuse you further the green zone was then broken down into three sub-categories to describe how the land was expected to perform in future earthquakes.

TC1 (Grey): Future damage from liquefaction is unlikely.

TC2 (Yellow): Liquefaction is possible in future earthquakes.

TC3 (Blue): Significant damage from liquefaction likely.

Christchurch construction.

Christchurch construction. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson


As in "the Christ Church Cathedral will be deconstructed'' - not demolished.

Buildings going up is construction, buildings being imploded to the ground or being smashed by wrecking balls is demolition.

Deconstruction, on the other hand, is the careful process of taking a building apart brick by brick, frame by frame, so the materials can be reused, and the structure possibly rebuilt.

Whether it's demolition or deconstruction, former Sydenham MP Jim Anderton says it will never happen to the cathedral. Ever.

Thousands gathered in protest at the cathedral's demolition.

Thousands gathered in protest at the cathedral's demolition. Photo: RNZ

Repair vs rebuild

Again these seem like easy terms but they remain confusing to some who don't live in Christchurch.

If your house is deemed a repair ... it gets repaired.

If it is deemed a rebuild, your old home is demolished, and a new one is built.

Christchurch construction.

Christchurch construction. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Twinkle Toes

A demolition machine which tore central city buildings apart, to much fanfare.