Living in the red zone

Living in the red zone

December 21, 2015

For most of us living outside Christchurch’s so called ‘red zone’ it is hard to imagine a life where, almost five years after the devastating earthquakes of February 2011, over 300 people are still grappling with financial pressures, bureaucratic frustrations and degrading services and infrastructure. 

In June and July of this year the Human Rights Commission and the New Zealand Red Cross teamed up to hand deliver surveys to as many households still occupied in Christchurch’s red zone as possible. 

For Red Cross, the door knocking was part of their Winter Warmer outreach campaign and was an opportunity to assess what people in the red zone needed to help them get through their fifth post-February 2011 winter. 

The purpose of the research was to continue to monitor the fulfilment of economic and social rights of people who remain living in, or own land or property in, the residential red zone in order to collect evidence to establish whether change is needed and in what areas. 

The findings of the research are both surprising and unsurprising. Many ‘myths’ have grown up around the red zone residents: for example, of the 60 survey respondents living in the red zone who owned a residential dwelling before the September 2010 earthquake, 56 out of 60 (93%) said they had insurance. Yet the general perception of red zone owners is that they were uninsured. 

For many, the ongoing uncertainty about their future combined with the stress of dealing with financial pressures and bureaucratic frustrations, have significantly impacted their wellbeing. Of the 101 people who answered the question about the level of stress they had experienced, 82 said their stress was due to dealing with the after-effects of the earthquakes rather than the earthquakes themselves. 

This research is a continuation of the Commission’s earthquake recovery monitoring work and follows the 2013 Commission report Monitoring Human Rights in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

103 people responded to the survey either in hard copy or online. The Commission will publish its report on the results of the survey early in 2016. 

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