Looking for the lessons: Earthquake Symposium has messages for the country

John Mccrone, The Press

It is a simple question that all New Zealand cities need answered. Does Christchurch show we know how to run a disaster recovery? JOHN McCRONE reports.

Heavyset security guards hover by the door, casting a beady eye over the entrants. Looks like they could be expecting a mob of angry troublemakers at any moment.

Christchurch is finally holding its Earthquake Symposium – the one promised for 2017 and cancelled by former Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, even after 51 speakers and a venue had been booked, as it was deemed "too political".

A lot of community groups aren’t represented here. A lot are really apathetic, really cynical, about not being here. It feels like bureaucrats talking to each other.
— Peter Beck – former Cathedral dean and city councillor

Speaker after speaker at the symposium agreed the Government of the day failed to get that balance right.

Trust and confidence declined because people felt they couldn’t influence the decision-making
— Auditor-General John Ryan
Simon Darby