People of Lyttelton, Raise Your Finger!

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Mark Hubbard's picture
Submitted by Mark Hubbard on Sat, 2011-12-10 00:52

During a long road trip Friday (December 9, 2011), I listened to a radio interview that came direct from the pages of George Orwell’s nightmare novel, 1984. The interview was between a resident of Lyttelton, a sane, reasonable, caring woman, I could tell that on just five minutes of listening to her, debating, well, being put in her place, by the Christchurch City Council’s Peter Mitchell, General Manager of Regulation and Democracy - (refer page two of link): Mitchell’s very title should have warned free men of skullduggery, for lovers of literature and the study of history know it’s unlikely you’ll find doublespeak like that title in an actual democracy, or a society in which an individual's freedom is foremost - and unfortunately, those two are not the same.

Being a former resident of Diamond Harbour, a four minute ferry ride away, I have spent a lot of time in the lovely, eccentric town of Lyttelton. That town has been laid low by the earthquakes, but as destructive as those earthquakes were, they’re now being laid low by the city’s Orwellian bureaucracy. After much of the main street has been destroyed, the only supermarket, and three or four of the local taverns are ready to open their doors for trade, so that the people of Lyttelton no longer will have to travel to Christchurch for food and sustenance, and can keep the solace and companionship of their own community. But with all the damage, the rebuild has now required all these premises are consented under the city’s myriad of complex rules and regulations. So said the cold, steely voice of Mr Mitchell, without an apology, or a hint of democracy, that no, none of these buildings comply with regulations. He cited the multi-storey Ballantyne's fire of 1947 (seriously, he did) for why the single storey Lyttelton supermarket with its two existing fire exits, did not meet the city’s fire regulations and would not be allowed to trade, despite it had been trading for years and years before the earthquakes; and the taverns - and I’m sure I heard correctly - did not have toilet facilities for possible disabled staff, so no way could consents be granted to let this town live again.

The residents of Lyttelton wisely want to assume the risk of their lives, of living, but that will cut no consent with the Department of Regulation and (now, don’t laugh) Democracy: according to The Masters, no, no, no, no, you naughty little children, nice Mr Mitchell’s job is to take that responsibility from you. Democracy is just a matter for Council staff to exercise on behalf of ratepayers, not for ratepayers.

And the same applies to those 500 or so Port Hill residents, many in Lyttelton, threatened with the forced removal from their homes, who want to assume the risk of living under possible rock falls. It is up to each individual to decide the risk in their life, not a bureaucrat. Freedom is what the human heart and mind aspires to, always. As well as everything that freedom involves, it also involves the freedom to die stupidly, remembering that one person’s stupid risk, may well be another’s leap to new invention, or simple thrill that makes their life worth the living. Given I don’t plan to live under a possible rock fall myself, it’s a price for freedom I’m willing to pay, for better that, than we all lose our freedom to the Nanny State. On this, there can be no compromise.

Think about it. Think about it hard.

Isn’t it time to say, enough!

Enough of this stifling, terrifying, Gulag of Good Intentions we’ve had foisted on us.

Residents of Lyttelton, understand what is happening to you, and happening because of what has been taken from you, from every individual, by the vote of the majority: your freedom to live as you wish, your freedom to buy your food and supplies, to entertain yourselves, where you wish. This democracy is now an autocracy and a tyranny of the majority, this General Manager of Regulation and Democracy, a Dictator of Regulation only, is the face of it. He’s the Big Brother George Orwell warned us all about, he’s just come in a guise that none of you were expecting – not secret police packing the instruments of torture, but a bureaucrat with a rule book bigger than your town (though not any one of you individually).

Rise up. Raise your middle fingers in the glorious sea-green salt laden air of your harbour town, lift those fingers up to the Dictatorship that exists on the other side of the tunnel, and in Wellington - take your lives back: open and be damned, shop where you damn well wish, drink where you damn well please. And ask yourselves, why are you paying rates to be bossed around like naughty children who can’t be trusted with the most important right an individual has: dominion over his or her life.

And once you’ve thought on that, think of the Libertarian ethic to which free men and women subscribe: that all individuals have rights and responsibilities, and it is the job of the state (small s ) only to protect those rights, not to assume those responsibilities.

Signed Mark Hubbard, wannabe free man, but slave of the Nanny State.

Addendum: um, pay your central government taxes, nevertheless, otherwise They will squash you like the bugs they view you all as, for in New Zealand, we are forced to live behind the IRon Drape of Nanny State, kept in line by her Big Brother. Until the revolution ...


To the residents of Lyttelton, many of whom are reading this thread, as it is linked to a number of sites now (I like this one), just in case you're curious to know what the 'solution' to our tyranny of the majority is, it's classical liberalism, or, in more detail, it's a libertarian minarchy, what you might call a constitutionally limited state; a state that is your servant only, where under the rule of law the non-initiation of force and fraud principle is upheld, where, most importantly, your individual rights and freedoms are above the vote, protected by a constitution, such as a Constitution for New Freeland . The only party in New Zealand that holds these principles is Libertarianz.

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Bloody CCC

Mark Hubbard's picture

The Christchurch City Council is again paying private investigators, with my rate money, to spy on Port Hill residents living in their own homes. Appalling.

The council is also paying $80,000 of my rates money for a private review of their communication problems, especially around City Manager, Tony Maryatt's, $68,000 salary.

Let me advise you on that for no fee: the CCC is simply inept. You should all resign. (According to one letter to the editor CCC has 52 managers, all with their own private secretaries. If that is true (?) the troughing here is truly obscene.)

Paveletich Cited

Mark Hubbard's picture

Interesting piece about the failure of the Chch rebuild in Stuff today:

Pavletich believes the Christchurch earthquakes will before long lead to "profound" changes in urban governance and planning in this country and elsewhere.

The 2012 survey said recovery in Christchurch had been delayed because authorities had failed to release affordable fringe land.

A statement accompanying the survey said the "sorry situation" of Christchurch clearly illustrated the huge and unnecessary risks and costs urban markets had to endure, when urban governance and planning failed and housing became severely unaffordable.

Christchurch had already been "on its knees" in development and construction terms at the time of the first earthquake in September 2010, due to a seriously dysfunctional local authority that, in deliberately withholding fringe land supply, allowed a housing bubble to start in 2002.

The survey compared the 6.3 median multiple in Christchurch to the 3.3 in New Orleans, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

New Orleans had been better positioned for recovery by its less draconian land use regulations, the survey said.

Hugh Pavletich - Well Worth Reading.

Mark Hubbard's picture

Hugh Pavletich is an urban planner who is well worth reading on how badly the State (local and central government) has handled the earthquakes and rebuild. He's in The Press a lot, but probably most here don't get a chance to read that.

He writes in an online letter today on Stuff:

The unfortunate reality is that the political management across the board, following the first earthquake event 4 September 2010, has been a complete top down bureaucratic disaster.

Indeed - the political incompetence has sadly been a bigger disaster than the earthquakes themselves.

It's time well spent reading his site and archives at: http://www.performanceurbanpla...

The Soviet Republic of Christchurch

Mark Hubbard's picture

I don't know if the General Manager of Regulation and Democracy has anything to do with it, but the Christchurch City Council's press relations has taken a turn for the Stalinesque:

About 100 readers have commented on the story about an internal presentation to [EQC] commission staff that showed mugshots of three Press journalists who could not be trusted.

At an EQC meeting in Christchurch on Monday, returning field staff were shown a presentation that accused some of the media of "dirty tactics" and relying on "rumours".

Underneath these comments were photos of Press reporters Ben Heather and Martin van Beynen and editor Andrew Holden, accompanied by Press headlines highlighting EQC shortcomings.

The presentation, released to The Press by the EQC late yesterday afternoon, also accused the media of portraying the commission as a villain and focusing on "poor Christchurch residents battling evil Wellington bureaucracy".

The Press understands EQC staff were also told that Heather was "schizophrenic in his writing".

Joe Bennett in the Press

Mark Hubbard's picture

Joe Bennett in the Press today: he made it through the last earthquake swarm. Although, as he says, of course he did, he's assessed the rocks above his house, secured any troublesome ones, and his house is safe. That has been the point, as far as he's concerned, all along.

Mikhail Gorbachev calls for Putin to resign

Marcus's picture

Mikhail Gorbachev calls for Putin to resign

"Mikhail Gorbachev called on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin not to seek a third term as president next year.

He told the Moscow Echo radio: "I would advise Vladimir Putin to leave now. He has had three terms: two as president and one as prime minister. Three terms – that is enough."

Mr Gorbachev, 80, has been virulently critical of the elections that took place on December 4. Soon after the poll he said that the results of the poll should be annulled and new elections held due to "numerous falsifications and rigging."

"The results do not reflect the will of the people," Mr Gorbachev said at the time. "Therefore I think they [Russia's leaders] can only take one decision – annul the results of the election and hold new ones."

The former president was considering attending the march in central Moscow today, to which thousands ventured. He was, however, unable to appear but passed his greetings to the protestors."

God hates Christchurch!

Marcus's picture

He wants to punish them for, well, um, well, living in Christchurch?

Christchurch earthquake: The moment it struck

"Two strong earthquakes have shaken the New Zealand city of Christchurch, sending residents rushing from buildings and causing minor damage.

The first 5.8 quake struck at 1358 local time (0058 GMT), the US Geological Survey said and a second of similar magnitude hit 80 minutes later.

Dozens of people suffered minor injuries but only 19 were admitted to hospital."

Just when it looked to be settling down.

Mark Hubbard's picture

Even in Geraldine we've felt the two big quakes in Chch this afternoon: they're really 'getting hit' again, unfortunately. So hold onto that hill, Joe Eye

(If anyone hears of a report of damage or hill slides in Diamond Harbour, I'd appreciate information at )

Mmmm. Well, rational self

Mark Hubbard's picture

Mmmm. Well, rational self interest ... don't do anything stupid.

I'm about to get one of my own

seymourblogger's picture

here they do it sneakily, one by one by one. Like coming to arrest you at dawn. Then you disappear.

I have decided to ruin the town. They are not gonna know what hit them. It's going to be fun too.

Joe Bennett prepared to face court

Mark Hubbard's picture


Author Joe Bennett is vowing to face arrest and court action in his battle against a council order to evacuate his quake-hit Lyttelton home.


The order has angered Mr Bennett, who claims he should be able to take responsibility for his own safety.

"I've got a mother and I don't need another one. I could go up Mt Cook, climb it naked playing a banjo and wearing a blindfold and they can do nothing.
"I'm a grown up adult and no I don't have to be protected from myself. I have an excellent safety record. Fifty four years and going strong."

Mr Bennett said he had been given 20 days to get out of his home in a "fix notice" issued by the council.

He offered to sign a document absolving the council of legal responsibility for his safety and vowed to resist any attempts to forcefully evict him.


Christchurch council regulation and democracy manager Peter Mitchell told Radio New Zealand it was "very dangerous" for Mr Bennett to stay in his home.


"From the council's point of view there's a real life risk here."
The council would be happy to go to court to defend its order, Mr Mitchell said.

Landowners to defy council order to leave

Mark Hubbard's picture

Joe Bennett prepared to fight the grey ones.


Christchurch homeowners defying notices to leave their rockfall-threatened properties have received an unwanted early Christmas present.


Homeowners were given a deadline of January 18 to vacate or face fines of up to $200,000 or court action.

About 500 Port Hills homes were issued notices prohibiting entry after the February 22 earthquake because of rockfall, cliff collapse or landslide danger.

Lyttelton writer Joe Bennett, who has been outspoken about remaining in his home, said yesterday he planned to ignore the notice.

"I think most other people are as well. It'll end up in court," he said.

"I have no doubt [the council] have batteries of lawyers, all at my expense yet again, and they wouldn't be doing this unless they were confident of their legal right, but that doesn't reduce my point of principle, which is that I'm responsible for my own fate."

Bennett questioned if the council was prepared to have ratepayers arrested.

"Are they going to put me in jail? If they're not going to put me in jail, I'll walk back up. If they turn off the water and power, I'll just camp here," he said.

Bill Skelton, of Lyttelton, said the timing so close to Christmas was a shock.

"This really puts the pressure on over the holidays," he said.

The notice was "illegal" because homeowners did not have a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem, Skelton said.

"I have no land problems, no structural problems with my house, and we are quite comfortable living here.

"We're not going to allow a broad-brush approach by the council to their own risk-averse attempt to minimise their own liability and putting us in a completely untenable financial position."

Council regulation and democracy general manager Peter Mitchell said the council was obliged to enforce the notices.

Port Hill residents in quake-damaged homes given deadline to lea

Mark Hubbard's picture


People Living in 27 endangered homes on the Port Hills have till the middle of next month to leave them.

The city council took another step yesterday in a bid to legally remove people when it served the properties with Notices to Fix.

The city council says the properties are in danger in danger from geotechnical risks like rockfall, cliff collapse and landslide.

Around 500 notices have been issued prohibiting entry under section 124 of the Building Act since the February 22 earthquake.

Despite the danger, a small number of residents who have chosen to remain in their homes.

Said city council spokesman Peter Mitchell: "We can not sit back and ignore the fact that people are living in homes that we have deemed are at risk of rockfall or other geotechnical issues.

Yes which is why we are fascinated

seymourblogger's picture

with disasters, the Event that comes out of nowhere, uncaused, unplanned, singular and unique.

Take knitting needles away from old ladies on planes so we can feel safer?

Have lids and clear wrap around everything that we can't get off easily to make us feel safe.

And the truth is: there is nothing they can do to ensure our safety. All is Deterrence to make us believe in a safety that does not exist. It all functions as a Lacanian "floating sign" to mask the reality of a world subject to chance occurrences. A risk-free world NOT.

9-11 dealt us the same message: http://guerrillablog2.blogspot...

Nicely put

seymourblogger's picture


Then I'm glad I put it into post modern perspective

seymourblogger's picture

so I don't feel useless writing about it here.

For the residents of Lyttleton ...

Mark Hubbard's picture

.... many of whom are reading this thread, as it is linked to a number of sites now (I like this one ), just in case you're curious to know what the 'solution' to our tyranny of the majority is, it's a libertarian minarchy, or what you might call a constitutionally limited state; a state that is your servant, where under the rule of law the non-initiation of force and fraud principle is upheld, where, most importantly, your individual rights and freedoms are above the vote, protected by a constitution, such as a Constitution for New Freeland.

I wonder if the same position (GMRD) exists within the EU?

Marcus's picture

Or maybe they don't need the scary titles, they're scary enough as it is.

The dead hand of the state

Ross Elliot's picture

In our highly-regulated world, all things being equal, the bureauRats can almost get away with it. But confront them with a disaster and the whole shell game becomes obvious.

Their regulations, safety committees and form-filling fetishism do nothing but kill any sort of dynamism. It's the same dead hand that applies equally to anything outside a disaster zone. But it's the disaster zone that shows it in a bald light.

I think this is my first post

Mark Hubbard's picture

I think this is my first post that has made it to 400 views within three days . From Twitter I know it's doing the rounds in Lyttelton. Just saying ... Smiling

Mark Hubbard's picture

Christchurch City Council says it is striking the right balance in its efforts to remove people from dangerous homes.

The council has come under fire for hiring a private investigator to gather evidence about people living in at-risk houses in the Port Hills.

It issued notices prohibiting entry to some 500 homes in July after geotechnical experts found there was a risk of residents being hurt or killed from rockfall or other geotechnical issues.

Up to 20 households have ignored the notices and returned to their properties.

The council's regulations and democracy manager, Peter Mitchell, said the council had taken the "drastic step" of issuing the notices because lives were at risk.

Without boulders rolling down the hill there was a perception that there was no issue.

"But if you have a boulder rolling down the hill tomorrow and someone's killed ... the criticism of council would then be 'you didn't do enough'.

"I think at the moment, the balance is right. We've issued the notices, the people can't say they were not aware and living in the house."

Mr Mitchell said the next step was to take civil court action seeking injunctions ordering people to leave.

The private investigator had been hired to make observations and gather information from other residents in order to provide evidence of occupancy, which was difficult to prove because people were still allowed temporary access to their properties.

The investigator's affidavit would then be presented to the court, along with the geotechnical advice.

"Then it's up to the court to decide what it wants to do."

Police would not be showing up to homes to evict people at 4am and the council has ruled out criminal charges, Mr Mitchell said.

I completely stuffed up those

Mark Hubbard's picture

I completely stuffed up those spare ribs over the charcoal. And mistakenly put chilli infused olive oil on the salad and stuffed up that as well.

I suspect it was the 2.00am morning, at a friends BBQ Saturday night, and the wine, the port and the whisky.

Marcus, great pictures. With

Mark Hubbard's picture

Marcus, great pictures. With a whole bunch of qualifications attached to it, too many to go into as I want to get to my BBQ books for a recipe for wild pork spare ribs (cooked over charcoal, of course, hat tip Al Brown whose Stoked and Go Fish I'm getting for Christmas), Cameron is for me the most impressive leader on the world stage at the moment (which might not be saying much, but is saying something).

Seymour blogger, thanks ... I think.

Oh, and idiot watch for today: those protestors in Russia rightfully alarmed at Putin's autocratic and under-handed ways, wrongfully carrying flags with the hammer and sickle - Jeez.

I love your pics

seymourblogger's picture

Alas they won't bring change tho.

Love the article Mark!

Marcus's picture

Today this was on the front cover of "the Sun" newspaper with the headline:

Up Eurs!

You have sent the same message to your Manager of Regulation and Democracy! Thanks!

Yes Mark you are correct and we completely agree

seymourblogger's picture

Jean Baudrillard has outlined it for you in post modern thought and De Lillo has fictionalized it in Cosmoplis. so you are spitting on your best support.

Living - and this means accepting death and risk - is in the Order of Seduction: reversibility, symbolic exchange, etc. (Symbolic Exchange and Death) Survival - and denial of death and constant elimination of risk - is in the Order of Production, reproduction, accumulation, etc.

Freedom is too idealistic a word to use to describe anything anymore as it is so misused it has become a ready-made word, meaningless.

You are championing the Order of Seduction and the bureaucrats are espousing the Order of Production. In cosmopolis Eric Packer is in his Proust cork-lined limo. While in the limo he is in the Order of Production, watching the screens of numbers and realtime news coverage. When he gets out of the limo he enters the Order of Seduction: living, risk, the world willing him, death. and there is that moment in his limo when the lightbulb goes on for him and while in the limo he enters the Order of Seduction and buys all the yen he can get (Lacan, yen, slight kind of lust, a little desire)and crashes the global circulating currency market, and he feels calm, proud, in control, himself at last again as he sits there.

This is Nietzsche's Overman. Not superman, not Hitler, Nietzsche's Overman, beyond good and evil. this is Roark and Galt too. and finally Dominique and Dagny. Dagny was a brilliant choice for a name, wasn't it?

Orwell has given us the tools of the dialectic to fight this off, but doublespeak will not help us now as it has been co-opted.

Nice post kid.

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