The barbarians gathered on the border, wrecking balls at the ready. Led by their leader Gerry 'Scorched Earth Policy' Brownlee, the hordes of CERA swept mercilessly through the city, laying waste to all that lay before them. Chief Warwick Issacs of the elite Christchurch Central Development Unit, ruthlessly carried out the orders of his leader. This became known as the Carnage of Warwick.
AS OF February this year 43 percent of Christchurch's historic buildings listed with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust had been pulled down. A total 243 buildings had been wiped off the face of the earth. That figure has climbed since then.
The latest building to be destroyed has been the CPIT War Memorial Hall. It was knocked down last week. Labour Party Ilam candidate James Dann has observed:
This building was of no immediate risk. It had been there since the quakes, not causing any harm. There was no need for the Section 38 powers to be invoked to demolish it. It is well beyond the time for these powers to be used. That the demolition was done overnight shows that the people responsible knew that this was something to be ashamed, hence doing their dirty work under the cover of darkness. It’s a disgrace.
What's also a disgrace are the buildings that are going up to replace them. They are ugly and characterless boxes of concrete and steel, monuments to the bottom line of the property developers and that disregard the needs and aspirations of the city and its people.
Adding insult to injury, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) thinks we should actually be proud of these architectural atrocities. The cover of the latest issue of its Greater Christchurch Recovery Update features a photo montage of some of these crappy new buildings. According to CERA chief Roger Sutton 'This is our city today - positively progressing with commercial rebuilds, big and small'.
A more honest and accurate assessment comes from someone who actually knows what he's talking about.
University of Auckland Professor of Fine Arts Jonathan Mane-Wheoki has slammed the indiscriminate destruction of Christchurch's historical heritage.
He has told The Press that with so much of Christchurch's architectural heritage having been demolished, there's a bland uniformity to the buildings that are replacing Christchurch's former diverse architectural landscape.
Mane-Wheoki told the newspaper: ''What is happening now is that a whole lot of glass, concrete and steel boxes are being built that will be gleaming new for about 5-10 years but will stat to look shabby at the same time.
He rightly concludes that Christchurch will 'have the largest collection of glass and concrete boxes in the world'
This is what Roger Sutton and CERA are describing as 'positive progress'.