But local knowledge from the council’s public consultation was lost, says Dalziel. The blueprint “wasn’t of the city; it was a creature of government”. Cera itself was disbanded in 2016.
Asked about the missed opportunities of the rebuild, Dalziel laughs. “How long have you got?”
Though the rebuild is ongoing, traces of the destruction – fenced-off broken buildings and sports field-size stretches of land slated for development – are more likely to be noticed by tourists than locals, who know how far the city has come.
Hundreds of heritage buildings were lost – either to the earthquake, or the demolition drive to move on from it.
Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel was born and raised in the city she now represents. But she finds it hard to describe how it has changed since the earthquake.
Meanwhile, the council approached the task of a new central library, Tūranga, with granular attention to community engagement: one resident’s suggestion of a “Harry Potter staircase” was reflected in the finished building, which opened in October 2018.
Dalziel suggests the central government and council could instead have set up an independent entity to operate together, appointing directors that were accountable to both of them.
She says on the drive back home, “the city was disintegrating in front of my eyes”.
Concrete and brick buildings were some of the most affected, with more than 100,000 buildings damaged and about 10,000 buildings needing to be demolished. More than half of the buildings demolished were in the central business district.
Now there is work underway to restore the cathedral, which is expected to take at least seven-and-a-half years.
“The air inside our building was filled with dust (which I assume came from the collapsed stairwells). We opened the balcony doors, and were hit by the smell of more dust from outside, and by the sound of car alarms and building alarms sounding all over the city.
As residents mark the anniversary of the 22 February earthquakes, RNZ takes a look at what has become of the city in the past 10 years.
The RNZ office space in Christchurch has since relocated to Cashel St.
A couple of streets away from Manchester St (pictured above) was RNZ’s former Chester Street West office. An RNZ reporter recording a telephone interview in a studio on the day the earthquake struck can be heard scrambling to safety in a 2011 episode of The Vault.
Christchurch property investor Antony Gough said the anchor projects slowed the rebuild.
“I think there will be a few things that define Christchurch and their response regarding the earthquake and one is the Convention Centre which is part of the blueprint,” he said.
“I suspect at that time we were very optimistic about the rebuild, we wanted to get things done really quickly – and probably if we hadn’t been optimistic things wouldn’t have happened.”
Brownlee said the government had to be careful about its spending.
But National List MP and former rebuild minister Gerry Brownlee, who worked on the blueprint, is defending the plans and says it is delivering for the city.