– Cashmere, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

We’ll start off with a funny story. In the afternoon of the big June quake we were in my motor caravan, stopped at the traffic lights corner of Harewood and Greers Roads. I thought that we had been hit by a truck. There was quite a violent bang and the van felt as if it was going to tip over. As you know, a motor caravan has quite a high centre of gravity and the force of the ‘quake was at right angles to the van, so you can’t blame me for thinking ‘over we go.’ After I released my vice-like grip on the steering wheel, I looked out and saw that the traffic lights were dancing around and around.
‘Okay, an earthquake’ I thought.
My lady companion, who had never been to New Zealand before, was quite quick off the mark. ‘John, you wanted to bring me here to make the earth move under my feet, but this is not the right way to do it.’
Point taken.

A droll quote from a friend whose house was later justifiably demolished. ‘It used to be a double-brick house, but now it’s only single-brick.’

Not quite so funny is the way in which compensation amounts seem to have been distributed. Friends have related the following: ‘My chimney fell on my car. To be fair to EQC they very quickly replaced the fireplace with a heat pump. No complaints there. They then paid to have my car repaired at a cost of $3,500.’ The catch there being that the car, a 25 year-old Toyota, was worth about $500 on a good day.

And on the penny-pinching side of the equation, the painter who repainted the interior wall where the chimney once stood, refused to paint the piece of new skirting board from where the hearth was removed, all 1.2 metres of it. That would have taken him about 65 seconds, but he said that he wasn’t paid to do new work.

Another one. A relatively new house with minor, almost insignificant, cracking to the cladding and some interior linings. ‘Right-o’ says EQC, ‘we will completely repaint your house, inside and out. But you will have to live in a motel for a month while we do it. We will pay for it of course.’ My friend said that he had a perfectly good mobile home which he and his wife would live in while the house was being repainted. ‘Oh no’ says EQC ‘You must live in a motel – our expense of course.’

And another. Nice house on the hill – some cracks in two interior walls. Repair estimate $17,000. My friend, who is a competent tradesman, could have fixed it himself with fifty bucks worth of filler and a few litres of paint. He is still waiting for the $17,000 fixers-up to arrive (and justify their estimate).

And I bet that those are just the tip of the iceberg.

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