glennlivingstone

There was – and always has been – another tradition of politics, a tradition based on the simple idea that we have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart (Barack Obama – 'The audacity of hope')

Running for the East

I’m in the midst of training for the Coast to Coast endurance event in February next year. And training in the most enchanted ward in the city, Burwood/Pegasus, (The East of Christchurch – no bias!) means that short to medium runs can take in Horseshoe Lake, Bottle-Lake forest or the Sand-hills. I’m able to kayak in the nearby Avon river and cycling from here to the hills is only 10 km.

I’ve taken part in the event three times before, the first as a team with my old mate Graham and the second and third as an individual. This fourth time is a head-to-head showdown with Graham, who’s gone completely mad with his training. My training time is limited due to Council and family commitments, so I’ll have to think of creative ways to beat him, like borrowing a jet-canoe off one of my former parishioners. The Waimakariri River gorge is so noisy that no-one will hear me start it up in there!

The Coast to Coast is an epic event, from one side of the South Island to the other, 243 km, consisting of various transitions of a 3k run off the beach to a 55k cycle to a 33k run on the first day, followed by a 15k cycle to a 68k kayak to a 70k cycle on the second. The more masochistic do it in one day, saying it lessens the pain and gets it over and done with!

My first Coast to Coast was a personal marker for me on a road to recovery following the loss of my mother, at the age of 59 to cancer, at the beginning of 1999. Her loss was devastating for our family. My Dad threw himself into tramping and I threw myself into multi-sport. I had more time to reflect in parish ministry then, delving into books like Stephen Covey’s ’12 keys to effective leadership.’ It was in that that I found the words to spur me on, which were, simply,’from survival to significance.’ I got so carried away with those four words, preaching about them and going on about them, that the Parish Clerk at the Christchurch North Presbyterian Church, Sally Thompson, herself a former Councillor, had a tee-shirt with the words printed on it for me – probably as a way of getting me to shut up about it all! It was a high time then, at the beginning of 2001, Anthea and I met, I achieved my goal of completing the Coast to Coast and Anthea’s energy and enthusiasm revived my ministry.

This time, 12 years later, it’s not about me. It’s about my constituents. It’s about all that they’ve been through and are continuing to go through. The loss of two suburbs, Horseshoe Lake and Bexley and large parts of Dallington, Burwood and Avondale; those private insurers, pinball wizards in their youth, where they plied their trade, pushing people around from pin to pin to pin, the EQC (Emotional Quotient Capitulation: just this last week a $70,000 pay-rise for their CEO!!!!!!!!!); the CERA legislation, which has a higher claim than the New Zealand Bill of Rights; the threatened closure and merger of 13 schools in this ward and an historical North-West bias which rears its ugly and unforgiving head towards the East in the letters to the paper and the comments in the blogs.

Those in the East have a huge mountain to climb and a very gnarly river to get down. And this journey from survival to significance won’t be done quickly. Jung’s archetypal East-West journey (here, West-East) is life’s journey. And what a journey. The ward’s nemesis that is the Avon, ekeing out a different route through the East, might well become that which gives back some equity, with the planned Avon-Otakaro development, possibly even a rowing lake, solving the hydrological problems. It’s latent environmental potential could reverse the bias. And we could find that half of Christchurch wants to make that journey from West to East as well. I actually think it needs to, for its own sake. I think the City Council needs to, for the city’s sake. For when the East is strong, the city will be. A measure of a city’s well-being is its priority for the poor. In Aranui, the median annual income is $18,000. The EQC CEO’s pay increase alone is 3.8 times that – and that was based on 70% of achieved KPI’s – the target is 90%!

In decades to come, those in the East may well look back and reflect on the difficult journey. The mountains slogged and the rivers traversed will add meaning to their lives, deep meaning. A colleague of mine from Parish Ministry used to have as his signature line on his e-mails this quote from Soren Kierkegaard – ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.’ I fell out of my kayak on the river today and felt like giving up. But I can’t. None of us can. We have to keep getting back in, no matter how many times we fall out. We have to make the journey. Life’s current doesn’t take us back, only forwards. We’ll get there, some time. We’ll move from survival to significance.

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The Canterbury Spring has arrived!

Well it arrived alright, as anticipated. 6 Councillors including the Mayor stood down, 8 sought re-election and 4 made it back. I sat in my old chair for a financial briefing in the chamber and was staggered to see how wide-spread the change was.

Tonight, following nearly two weeks of meetings and beginning to set up our new committee structure (nearly finalised) Lianne Dalziel was sworn in as Mayor, Vicki Buck as Deputy, along with the Councillors.

The election result looked good on paper and on the Sunday morning following as the Councillors gathered over coffee, this was confirmed in a palpable sense of cohesion, goodwill and humour. The unity is not forced, it’s simply present.

I said this tonight:

Mayor and Councillors,

Kia Ora Tatou, Talofa Lava, ne-in haOW (nín hǎo) 

Lianne thank you for giving us our wings and for fostering a new wairua, a new high trust environment in which each of us can do well in our respective portfolios for the good of the city.

The voters are always right and when I look around this table I have a sense that they took a city-wide look and chose a group that would be cohesive, would enjoy working together and would work hard for them. Now that I’ve finished my pleasantries – and they are sincere, I’d like to get down to business, openly lobbying you all for a Housing Plan for Christchurch:

  • Whether it’s placing red-zone houses on Council land as urgent, affordable rentals in the short-term

 

  • Working together to facilitate affordable rentals in the longer-term

 

  • Speeding up the repair of our Social Housing

 

  • Working in partnership to put in place a rental register and a warrant of fitness

 

  • Adopting a Homelessness Strategy as the Auckland and Wellington Councils have done

 

  • recognising the very real issues of and seeking the solutions for, Youth Housing

 

  • Exercising our political will to provide for Affordable Housing,

 

  • Whether it’s considering all the entries in the Breathe competition as among many possibilities for future inner-city living

 

I would like to work with you and our staff as a Can-Do Council to bring about the confluence of all that which is ‘able’ in Housing – Affordable, Habitable, Accessible, Sustainable – to develop an integrated Housing Plan for Christchurch.

For my family, thankyou for your love over the last three remarkable years, when I have introduced myself to you occasionally as your Dad or said to my wife Anthea, “I know you from somewhere, weren’t you at our wedding?”. I would like to make a fresh commitment today to be at home for meals, to read stories at night and to go back on the cooking roster.

In all we do, let’s work together, in One Direction, for the people of Christchurch.

~

 

 

 

 

The Canterbury Spring is arriving……….

Some time ago, I wrote about the Canterbury Spring. Now, in the second to last week before voting papers are mailed out for the local government elections, it is hard to believe that the season of change is finally upon us.

The change many have wanted for so long is close to becoming a reality. There will be change in the Council, with 6 members, including the Mayor standing down. There could well be other changes by close of voting on October 12.

With layer upon dis-empowering layer heaped on Cantabrians, beginning with the seismic events of September 2010, February 2011 and their aftershocks, followed by the dis-empowering attitude of Private Insurers, the EQC, the CERA legislation, the refusal to reinstate democratic elections of E-Can representatives and the absolutely appalling schools shock-change (my preference to ‘step-change’) these elections are the first placing of power in the hands of Cantabrians since the 2011 end of year General Election, when the jury was still out on the recovery, mainly because the recovery was still in its early stages.

This is the chance many have been waiting for since the February 2012 protest outside the Civic Offices to see change and have a sea-change (sorry, couldn’t help that!) in the way that local government goes about being local government in Christchurch.

The way I see it, the Council has to learn to walk again. It has to go back to thinking about what it’s role is, for both elected members and staff and it has to ensure that that ethos is given expression to through-out the culture of the organisation. Imagine if we had a Council that said ‘yes’ to you, rather than waited for you to trip up over its own red tape. That said “let us help you build your house”, instead of “when you come back with your modifications to your consent, we’ll point out more things that need to be done.”

Prior to and following the earthquakes especially, Christchurch was becoming a sad, angry place. Now, with the advent of this Canterbury Spring, the possibility of hope is high in the air and with it the chance for the Council to re-connect with its community. For too long, this Council has been insular and shut off from the world. It is time for it to change. And it will be you bringing about that change in five weeks time.

Hey Minister, leave those kids alone!

A Christchurch City Councillor is raising serious questions about the Minister of Education’s decision-making process and the motivation for not taking greater time than that announced to deliberate on school closures in eastern Christchurch.
Cr. Glenn Livingstone, who represents the ward of Burwood/Pegasus, where the Minister of Education, the Hon. Hekia Parata, announced the closure and merger options of several schools today, says “I am disturbed that the Minister is making these announcements prior to the completion of Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem’s investigation into the way in which the Ministry of Education has conducted its consultation on school closures and mergers. That investigation will be completed in the second half of this year. Why isn’t the Minister waiting for the outcome of that investigation?”

In the Minister’s announcements today, Burwood will merge with Windsor and schools in New Brighton will consult on two new proposals that arose after the interim decision was announced. The initial proposal was to merge North New Brighton and Freeville, and Central New Brighton and South New Brighton. The new proposal is to either merge North New Brighton, Freeville and Central New Brighton schools, or close Central New Brighton School and also finalise the interim decision to merge North New Brighton and Freeville schools.  
 
This means the proposed merger of Central New Brighton and South New Brighton will not go ahead, and the interim decision to merge Freeville and North New Brighton is deferred until further consultation has been completed. Those school boards have until 10 July 2013 to provide feedback to the Minister on these proposals.

Livingstone says that equally disturbing is the fact that, while the government demands hard data to prove there is a housing crisis in Christchurch, it is proceeding to close and merge schools without any quantitative basis. “This is evidence that these closures have always been an idea waiting for a disaster to happen”, he says.
 
“This from the Ministry that deduced from an aerial photograph that the sand at Burwood School was liquefied material, when it was in fact the school’s long-jump pit! How much confidence can we have in the accuracy of the Ministry’s data-gathering and conclusions?”

Livingstone is frustrated that the Minister went through with making the announcements today, saying that school boards have until July to respond, despite census data not being available until December 2013. “How is the Minister able to make these announcements and tell school boards to respond by mid year without due regard to the 2013 Census information, which, when released at the end of the year, will indicate changes in population?” Cr. Livingstone asked. “We know that most red-zone residents from the Burwood/Pegasus ward have indicated a desire to re-settle in the East, and with the Prestons development coming on-stream, there is likely to be future population growth in the east rather than decline. Yet, even this has not been taken into account.”

Livingstone says that the announcements by the Minister today “are another blow to the communities of the east, who have been struggling since the first earthquake on September the 4th 2010.”
ENDS

Contact: Glenn Livingstone
(021) 1614819 glenn.livingstone@ccc.govt.nz

Letter to the Minister of Education

Dear Minister

We are writing to you asking for a response to our concerns regarding the re-structuring of education in Christchurch.

While it is recognised there may be a need for change, we have concerns about the manner in which decisions for change have been made and the information on which these have been.

We seek your response to.

1. In meetings between the Ministry of Education and the Council, via the Council’s Earthquake Forum the Council was informed of a forthcoming ‘investment’ by the Ministry in education in Christchurch.
This investment was signalled prior to the first announcements of school closures and mergers. Can you please explain why these closures and mergers were not signalled as being part of the initial consultation process with us?

2. Communities and schools were not given a reasonable and fair chance to discuss what a future educational outcome could look like without the threat of closure or merger hanging over them.  This process would have resulted in better community buy in and better results.

Can you please explain why communities and schools were not given a reasonable and fair opportunity to discuss what a future could look like for them without these closures and mergers?

3. Many members of  the communities to be affected by proposed closure or mergers had their living conditions compromised following the February 22 2011 earthquake, and subsequent seismic events. There is still uncertainty regarding the future. Why have the proposals been initiated at such a stressful and uncertain time for these affected communities?

4. We are concerned that the planning undertaken during this process in a city following a natural disaster does not give sufficient consideration to the research on post-natural disaster trends and the effects on the city’s inhabitants. There is uncertainty over demographic figures with many communities experiencing a return of residents or new arrivals to the city assisting with the rebuild.

We ask then, that your final decisions take cognisance of the affect the proposed changes to schooling will have on our communities so recently following the earthquakes.

5. CERA recognises that Christchurch has entered a ‘third year’ , referred to by Dr. Rob Gordon in his public statements. It will be a period of sustained challenge in relation to the city’s social well-being, and the effects are already noticeable in our communities. The current time frame of the proposed changes for the beginning of 2014 coincide with the third year anniversary period. With regard to this time of anticipated change, we ask that you inform us as to how your final recommendations will give consideration to the on-going difficulties that our communities are facing.

6. We suggest the Christchurch change process may be self-defeating in its aim to improve student achievement. The proposed closures and mergers, seem to have been made without due consideration to the life-changing impact on Christchurch communities.

The proposals have disrupted the teaching and learning environments of our most vulnerable and worst hit communities bringing great distress to parents and students compounding the difficulties already faced by many in those schools. Staff have also been affected by the disaster and continue to cope with the on-going and changing needs of their school communities.

We ask that your response will clarify the reasons for such drastic changes to our school system at a time when it forms such an important stabilising feature and resource for its communities.

THE COUNCIL ALSO RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY) TO ASK THE MINISTER TO REINSTATE THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE THAT CHRISTCHURCH SCHOOLS CONSULTED ON.

Letter to the Minister of Education via CCC Notice of Motion – Please Explain

Dear Minister

We are writing to you asking for a response to our concerns regarding the re-structuring of education in Christchurch.

While it is recognised there may be a need for change, we have concerns about the manner in which decisions for change have been made and the information on which these have been.

We seek your response to.

1. In meetings between the Ministry of Education and the Council, via the Council’s Earthquake Forum the Council was informed of a forthcoming ‘investment’ by the Ministry in education in Christchurch.
This investment was signalled prior to the first announcements of school closures and mergers. Can you please explain why these closures and mergers were not signalled as being part of the initial consultation process with us?

2. Communities and schools were not given a reasonable and fair chance to discuss what a future educational outcome could look like without the threat of closure or merger hanging over them.  This process would have resulted in better community buy in and better results.

Can you please explain why communities and schools were not given a reasonable and fair opportunity to discuss what a future could look like for them without these closures and mergers?

3. Many members of  the communities to be affected by proposed closure or mergers had their living conditions compromised following the February 22 2011 earthquake, and subsequent seismic events. There is still uncertainty regarding the future. Why have the proposals been initiated at such a stressful and uncertain time for these affected communities?

4. We are concerned that the planning undertaken during this process in a city following a natural disaster does not give sufficient consideration to the research on post-natural disaster trends and the affects on the city’s inhabitants. There is uncertainty over demographic figures with many communities experiencing a return of residents or new arrivals to the city assisting with the rebuild.

We ask then, that your final decisions take cognisance of the affect the proposed changes to schooling will have on our communities so recently following the earthquakes.

5. CERA recognises that Christchurch has entered a ‘third year’ , referred to by Dr. Rob Gordon in his public statements. It will be a period of sustained challenge in relation to the city’s social well-being, and the affects are already noticeable in our communities. The current time frame of the proposed changes for the beginning of 2014 coincide with the third year anniversary period. With regard to this time of anticipated change, we ask that you inform us as to how your final recommendations will give consideration to the on-going difficulties that our communities are facing.

6. We suggest the Christchurch change process may be self-defeating in its aim to improve student achievement. The proposed closures and mergers, seem to have been made without due consideration to the life-changing impact on Christchurch communities.

The proposals have disrupted the teaching and learning environments of our most vulnerable and worst hit communities bringing great distress to parents and students compounding the difficulties already faced by many in those schools. Staff have also been affected by the disaster and continue to cope with the on-going and changing needs of their school communities.

We ask that your response will clarify the reasons for such drastic changes to our school system at a time when it forms such an important stabilising feature and resource for its communities.

Reflections on ANZAC Day 2013, St. Ambrose Church, Aranui Christchurch

 

Today we are united with our Australian brothers and sisters in remembering those young men and women who died, not only at Gallipoli but in the second war and other wars. You will have your own stories of war, as it has touched your family no doubt, along with most New Zealand families.  

Along with yours, it has marked my own family.

My maternal grandfather, Wally Anderson of Palmerston North, was considered a bit too old (close to thirty) for overseas duty and he ended up as a prisoner of war guard, at Featherston, in the Wairarapa.

My grandmother considers those were some of the best years of his life, drinking beer and playing rugby with some of his prisoner of war guard mates.

My paternal grandfather, John Livingstone, of Dunedin, never came back from the war. He was killed at Ruweisat Ridge, El Alamein, 70 years ago last July.

My grandmother was thrown into a state of depression and her family, which suffered several losses, came to dread the sight of the telegraph boy coming up the garden path, with news of yet another loss or missing in action of a family member.  

Our commemorating today is for all those we have lost, from whichever battle, or war, has marked our history.

But ANZAC Day first began in response to the disastrous battle on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Bryce Courtenay, in ‘Solomon’s Song’, a work of fiction but based around Gallipoli, describes how, in going to Gallipoli, the New Zealanders and Australians first had to agree on a description of who they were.

Apparently, and this seems likely to be more fact than fiction, the term ‘Australasian’ was first mooted – a term which the New Zealanders whole-heartedly rejected!

They weren’t going to be blended in with the Australians, they had their own identity thankyou very much! And while the Kiwis were happy to fight with their Aussie mates, they still wanted to retain their own identity and so the term A.N.Z.A.C. was coined.

Obviously, being a work of largely fiction, anything about an historical event contained within it must be taken with a grain of salt but if you read Courtenay’s book, you start to glean some of the horrors of what those original ANZAC’s went through.

You read of how the landing strategy was inherently flawed. The ANZAC’s landed – but in the wrong place. More than that, they were, tragically, sitting ducks from the beginning. They steamed into ANZAC cove on their ships, visible to the Turkish soldiers waiting high up on the cliffs, for some time.

And all the Turkish soldiers had to do was bide their time, wait for the ANZACs to land and pick them off, which they did. If you watch the film Platoon, which also includes a beach landing, you’ll get an idea of what happened and how they never had a show.

Courtenay also describes the collective psyche of the two sides – the ANZACs and the Turkish soldiers.

How the ANZACs were the best and the brightest of New Zealand and Australia’s young men.

And how the Turkish soldiers carried in their minds that deep scripting of a very religious, warrior people, who weren’t going to lie down and take being shot at from anyone.

The Gallipoli campaign, beginning on this day, the 25th of April, 1915, was a disaster.

Many ANZAC soldiers never got out of their boats, from the ships to the shore, instead they were shot while in their boats, being easy targets.

Some drowned in the surf from the weight of their packs. Others were shot in the surf.

Many were shot on the beach or while trying to scrabble up the cliff faces or later, died of their wounds.

The campaign was a failure.

Or was it?

At first glance, it is an abject failure. A flawed military strategy from the beginning, with a disastrous outcome all round, particularly for the ANZACs.

But we still remember them.

And we do this because we know that, disastrous or not, what they died for was not totally in vein.

What they died for was what we have had in New Zealand and Australia and what we must keep – and that is democracy itself.

And that’s why several of us bandied together last year and organised a pro-democracy rally.

Because we could see that what was happening to Christchurch was an undermining of that which our forebears had fought for.

We could see that, in taking away people’s right to vote, in the nation where women first claimed that right to vote, where our democracy has been so fundamental and a given to our way of life, where you can express your views, protest if you like, have access to your politicians and vote them in or out, we were going backwards.

And that’s why we had the rally.

Because we wanted to keep moving forwards, we wanted to keep the momentum going in our development as a society.

And with what the Parliament has decided just recently, no-one can say that Kiwis don’t make up their own minds as a small nation in this big world of ours.

~

Gallipoli or Gethsemane. Two campaigns, both looked like they ended disastrously.

One certainly did, with the ANZACs coming away defeated.

The other looked like defeat, until, on the third day, he rose again and became the resurrection of life itself, patterned after life itself, seen in the seasons, where there is always a spring after a winter but where we must have all the seasons because they give us meaning, although we might not welcome them, like the cold winters.

Gallipoli or Gethsemane. Our faith hinges on Gethsemane – it turns out it wasn’t a failed campaign at all.

And it turns out that Gallipoli was not a failed campaign either, because we still remember them.

We still remember those who stayed as guardians over their flock back home, who laid down their lives for their sheep, who gave up their lives so to protect the life we have now.

And though it’s tough going in Christchurch, particularly here in the East, those who died for us would want us to keep going. And as they were our voice for the rights and freedoms of their families back home, they would want you and I to exercise our voice today and to speak up for ourselves, to ensure that our democracy is not lost and that the rights and freedoms of those in our community are not lost.

As we come into another tough winter, remember that winter is always followed by spring, that Good Friday was not the end of the story, that Easter Day did arrive, and with it, hope.

Carry that hope with you as you leave here today, hold onto it, reach out to one another to make it happen and, like the ANZACs, never, ever, give up. Amen.

(in relation to John 10:1-11 in the Bible, an analogy of the Good Shepherd)

 

Council unanimously agrees to Insurance Advocacy Service

Media Release – Christchurch City Council unanimously agrees to Insurance Advocacy Service

“It comes as little surprise that insurers were never willing to step into the advocacy space because from their perspective, it’s about protecting their balance sheets, rather than looking after their policy-holders,” says Cr. Glenn Livingstone, in response to today’s unanimous resolution by the Christchurch City Council to fund a trust being formed to provide Insurance Advocacy, following a deputation to the Council by Ali Jones and Mike Coleman.

Livingstone, who pushed the case for an Advocacy service over and against an Advisory service, says it was important for the Council to grasp the fundamental difference between the two. “CERA has just announced the establishment of a Residential Advisory Service, nine months after the Council called for an Insurance Tribunal and Advocacy service. Recognising that no-one was going to compel insurers to treat residents fairly and reasonably, the Council today resolved to back those who will,” Livingstone says.

“Advisory is only ever going to deliver that – advice”, Livingstone says. “It is not going to represent policy-holders rights to be treated reasonably, fairly and transparently by the insurers, though legislation and the United Nations ‘Principles for Sustainable Insurance’, of which the insurance companies are signatories, compels them to.”

“This is a very good decision by the Council. It is important now that both the Trust and the Council are clear in their intentions with one another and that the Advocacy service offered by the trust is up and running as soon as possible”, Livingstone says. “It is appropriate that advocacy on behalf of affected Christchurch residents is in the hands of the residents themselves. International experience post-disaster tells us that the most effective recovery is community-led. “

Advocacy and Advisory – a world of difference between the two

Media Release

 CERA Residential Advisory Service: Advocacy needed

“While the Residential Advisory Service announced by CERA has insurers’ buy-in, advocacy will be needed for buy-in from the insured –  and there is a world of difference between the two,” says Cr. Glenn Livingstone.

“The City Council agreed unanimously in July last year that an Insurance Tribunal and Advocacy service was needed, having listened to the community and hearing of the intractable situations many were finding themselves in with their insurance companies. The Council recognised that ensuring that residents were treated reasonably and fairly by their insurer was the role of an advocacy service. An advisory service by definition will not deliver reasonable and fair treatment by insurance companies. Only advocacy will do that but insurers have not displayed a willingness to step into the advocacy space and no-one is compelling them to do it,” Livingstone says.

It now falls to the City Council to lead on advocacy, Livingstone maintains and he and other Councillors will be underlining this at this Thursday’s (April 24) Council meeting, where a report on options for facilitating an Insurance Advocacy Service will be deliberated by the Council. The report suggests two options – either the development of an advocacy service by the Council or outsourcing the service, through either the calling of expressions of interest in provision of an advocacy model or running a grant process for not-for-profit community-based organisations to deliver such a service.    

Cr. Livingstone says it is important to keep moving forward with any moves to provide insurance resolution for the community. “It is important that we are solutions-driven. We need to ensure residents receive quality advice through the advisory service and that they are treated fairly and reasonably through an advocacy service.”

As well as pushing for an advocacy service at Council level, Livingstone will be seeking additional funding for such a service and continuing with insurance meetings in the community, following the success of an inaugural meeting where residents heard of Policy-holders being entitled to $2000 stress payments by IAG, Tower and Lumley.

“Information, knowledge and advocacy is power and we need to empower our residents over insurance issues, so to speed-up the social and economic recovery of Christchurch,” Livingstone says.

ENDS          Glenn Livingstone 021-1614819

glenn.livingstone@ccc.govt.nz          

With the spirit of Kate Sheppard running in our veins – Christchurch Democracy Rally Speech December 1 2012

Thankyou for being here today and for finding the energy to stand up for Democracy. Your being here is valuable and vital.

Our Democracy is part of our heritage as people in NZ – being the first in the world where women claimed the vote made us progressive. Since then, we’ve maintained that momentum, shining the light on the evils of apartheid and nuclear weapons. Now, in taking away voting and democratic freedoms, we are becoming regressive. This has brought a new dimension to the term ‘nanny state.’

What has happened to our legal rights, our freedoms and our self determination?

Take a look around you and read the signs & join the dots,  Christchurch. And New Zealand, take note, you will be next. Look at what is being done to us – it will be done to you, make no bones about it.

It is well documented now that this hard, heavy, top-down, oppressive approach usually follows a natural disaster, when people are in shock, despair, tired and low in energy.

And when you look around Christchurch today and you join the dots, you can see quite clearly that the pyramid of power, which is supposed to be turned back up, to give the power back to the people, has not; instead, it has become bolder and heavier.

And so we say to the government today: We can see what you are doing; we’re onto it; you’re not going to fool us; you’re not pulling the wool over our eyes, this is Our City, we’re going to have Our Say; we are Christchurch and we are proud and strong and with the spirit of Kate Sheppard running in our veins, we will not let you trample us down, under the heavy foot of oppression. Remember who gives you your power. And remember who can take it off you. So back off, because we are taking our city back.

For my part, I have a responsibility to ensure that my daughter, who turned 18 yesterday, old enough to vote – but not for E-Can – has the opportunity to participate fully in her democracy.

I also have a responsibility to my paternal grand-father, John Livingstone, who died, defending our freedoms, in a place called El Alamein, in the desert, in Egypt, 70 years ago.

And though I never met him, I have a responsibility to ensure that I can look at him in the eye in my mind’s eye, every ANZAC Day.

Thankyou for your attendance today. Let us go from here, strong and proud, reflecting on all that we have seen and heard, proud that we have the hard-won gift of democracy and determined to stay together, as one city, united by that. For by our Democracy, we are a city united.

It is time for a new time: one where we build unity in our diversity. Thankyou to the organisers, thankyou to the speakers. Kia Kaha Christchurch, go well.