Yesterday started with a briefing at the Beckenham Service Centre. Minister Gerry Brownlee briefed the Christchurch City Councillors on the new structure for governance post earthquake.
I’ve been very impressed with Mr Brownlee, right since September 4. He’s a man you would do well not to underestimate, and one whom I think suffers more than a little from cartoonists who hone in on his appearance, not his intellect or abilities – they probably don’t get the chance to observe him for long enough to appreciate them.
I’ve watched him closely since September. The first time I had a germ of an idea that my old opinion of him was completely wrong was a quip in response to another MP who referred to himself as being Gerry’s shadow. Minister Brownlee commented idly – “that’s a damned cold place to be standing.”
I’ve watched him again at the numerous briefings we have had. He is an excellent listener, and completely conversant with the material which he has. No easy task that.
There is no doubt in my mind that Gerry Brownlee is committed to making this southern capital rise again. In his words – “we want to fix it – we want to make it better”. Find me someone who doesn’t want that, and I’ll taxi them to the airport myself. It’s what we all want. Nor is there any doubt in my mind that he means it when he says he wants the CCC there with him. He understands that recovery and rebuilding will only happen when you do it with the people and by the people – you can’t do it to the people.
One of our big collective challenges is going to be dealing with the new world of shorter consultation processes. As a community, we are going to have understand and buy into the fact that the norms of political engagement came tumbling down on February 22. We’re going to have to develop new and more effective ways of getting input from people who want to share their views. Social media is going to be essential for that. Different processes does not equal not listening, as the folks who are adding me as their FB friend or following me on twitter already know.
I’ve been actively steering people onto Facebook. It’s such a simple gathering point and gives you direct access to your politicians, if they are there. If they’re not – they’re going to struggle with the nimbleness and agility we will need to rebuild our city together in the months and years ahead. Twitter is a fantastic source of information and interaction. You meet the most amazing people there and in no time flat, you build up easy links into networks which would otherwise have been completely inaccessible. I’ve been using Twitter since February 22 and have been an international messenger – my message goes into enormous networks and through them spreads all over the world. The two messages have been these. “We’re open for business” and “Give us money – here is where you can donate”. I’m adding a third now. “We’re still here – don’t forget us.”
We are going to need all our friends around the country and around the world understanding and supporting the intent of the legislation that is coming up in draft form next week. I’m not going to say at this point I carte blanche accept it, simply because I haven’t read it. When I do – rest assured – you’ll have my thoughts and I’ll be listening as well as helping shape the council’s response. From comments made yesterday, I am sure there will a sharp intake of breath on first reading. I would suggest that when that happens go back to first principles. “We want to fix it – we want to make it better.” It’s only for that purpose that the legislation will be able to be used.
Once I’d come away from the briefing yesterday, I went for a run with Pepper. We did 13km from home through Addington. I’m combining ward watching with training for the St Clair half in May. Legs feeling good today. Head a little murky but clearing.
I threw a pot luck here last night – it was so much fun. How’s this for a cast of suspects? Hugo Manson from the Alexander Turnbull Library. (He failed to bring the fairy bread as instructed but did a nice line in classic kiwi dip and salsa doritos). He was here to do another episode of our audio diaries and so last night’s edition now contains a piece with Barry Corbett (bringer of cheerios and tomato sauce). Sam Johnson was the next to arrive. He did far better lighting my barbeque than he did lighting the eternal flame at the National Memorial Service – no pressure from Prince Willy in the background I suspect.
Richard Tyson, the MacGyver of servers turned up with his ever present toolkit and some kebabs which we failed to notice so they are tonight’s tea (the boys can cook them while I read the council agenda for tomorrow.) Richard’s tools not only rescue high tech computer equipment – he put a new plug on the end of my vaccuum. Nick won’t be pleased that his hero has enabled his chores to recommence.
Mike Thorley, the ever pregnant Briar (Michael – put your wife down) and their children Maddie, Kever and bump also brought Ron the Chinese exchange student and much to Pepper’s glee, Rosie the spoodle. (Ron also speaks Japanese and Korean – he’s taught himself English through cartoons. A smart boy that one.)
Colin and Rachel, my dear dear friends from just a k away – unlike him, Colin drove. They normally arrive in the night on bikes, giggling. The rice cooker and curry meant the four wheeler was a better idea – just this once.
Then there was Melanie – a brave soul indeed. She’d met me once, was coming with Kimmy – who was late, so the poor girl was thrown into the melting pot alone. She coped bravely, especially once a touch of unoaked chardonnay was applied. And then Kimmy arrived looking gorgeous and gazelle like as always, in a beautiful vintage coat from Melanie’s shop in Richmond – will track down that name. I’m so going there!
And Kimmy brought Lee Howden. Lee and I started at CTV on the 17th of June 1991. She was my makeup artist. I was a baby presenter. Over the years, we shared so many things. I’ve missed her terribly, and she’s been down in the beautiful deep south, unable to come up for funeral season. It’s been really hard for her – I think being away is almost the hardest thing of all. It was so good just to hold her and give her a cuddle and share that aroha, that sameness. She knows what I mean when I say “it’s going to be nor’west on Sunday” and we cackle. And no, I’m not going to explain our code. Some things belong to the sisterhood and they are sacred.
So today, I have cleaned up the debris. A few dead marines but the rest easily managed. Chris has been home schooled diligently this morning and I have taken him into college for his sports activities this afternoon. In between, I’ve been on Newstalk ZB with Mike Yardley and Tim Carter (not quite Paul Corbett although we were on in the same hour so our goal is yet to be achieved) and have started processing a “please help” from a resident who bravely lifted the phone and I am so proud that she did.
Later today, Pepper and I will go for a run to see Amanda, voice some ads and quibble about Paul Henry. Chrissie might pop in this afternoon. I have eight hours of council work ahead of me – that will see me wrap up my day around midnight – but before tomorrow, that agenda will be read, digested, and I will be ready for action.
10am at the Beckenham Service Centre if you’re interested. Agenda’s on the council website, it’s open to the public, and at a pinch I might even throw in a free hug. All part of the territory these days.