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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NZ needs new centres of growth

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Following the earthquake, in an interview with John Campbell, Mark Quigley, GNS spokesperson, made a very public and political solicitation for funds for research. He said this is 'fundamental science', actually it is applied science, and I'm not even sure it would have helped. The reality is that the GNS might never have an accurate model for the sub-surface. I suspect for it to develop an accurate model, it would need to drill a great number of holes several kilometres into the earth to place sensors in the ground to measure movement at different places. This does not seem feasible - principally for the fact that the 'active' geological terrain in question might comprise a great many slivers of crust with a succession of faults absorbing or releasing the stresses, so picking when and where the stresses are going to be released does not strike me as easy science.

Although it may well be sensible to increase the budget for GNS, I actually think the government needs to do some other things, including adoption of the following policies:
1. Ensure all new construction in Christchurch is earthquake-resistant. I have no idea whether the existing standards are adequate. Probably they are, and if not, then the assistance of the Japanese will probably help.
2. Adopt a 'slow-growth' model for Christchurch
3. Adopt measures to diversify NZ's population away from Christchurch by moving government jobs. The reason for this is that Christchurch might well be passing through a 300 year period of 'geological activism'. You do not want your 2nd largest, fastest growth city exposed to such destructive potential. Decentralising government jobs is the best way to create new cities. Oh course there is too much investment in Christchurch to abandon it, but this ought to be a long term strategy.
4. Develop new cities around existing infrastructure in Invercargill and somewhere like Motoeku (near Nelson). Of course port facilities will be critical to such a city. The South of the South Island already needs a new airport to handle tourism I believe. Queenstown is 6 hours from Christchurch, and its a hub for international tourism. There is a need for a larger regional international airport to service Dunedin, Invercargill, Queenstown and Wanaka. This is a good way of kickstarting such decentralisation.

NZ needs to think about whether it should rebuild Christchurch or scale back. Of course, NZ is not the only country to have earthquakes. San Francisco is built on the San Andreas Fault. Japan is subject to faulting, etc.
The difference is that Japan is pretty unstable regardless; and Tokyo was already well constructed, since it experienced a bad earthquake - the Great Kanto Earthquake - many years ago (1923). The difference is that Christchurch has a choice. There are areas in NZ which are a lot more stable than others, and diversification makes sense. Its not a divestment, but a shift in priorities and focus. The same can be said of Wellington. But that is a 'bureaucrat city', so its prone to gentrify anyway. Governments are naturally very good at killing things.


'Buying NZ Property – Download the free sample readings!

NZ presents some of the most alluring property in the Western World; particularly given the greater easy of residency, the low cost of property, and the liveability of the country. In addition, there is no capital gains tax, transfer taxes, VAT/GST or wealth taxes in NZ, so rest assured that NZ property is tax-effective! Learn more now!

New Zealand Property Report 2010 - Download the table of contents or buy this 180-page report at our online store for just $US19.95.


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