The damage in New Zealand

Conservation societies are up in arms over the widespread, and in many cases unnecessary, demolition of historic buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand, following a series of earthquakes in the region. The government’s plans to demolish 50% of buildings within the city’s Central Business District (CBD)—30% more than in poverty-stricken Haiti—has experts questioning the government’s commitment to heritage and the competence of the bodies tasked with safeguarding these properties. Campaigners say that new disaster recovery legislation supersedes laws designed to protect historic structures, leaving them vulnerable to property owners who may opt to start from scratch rather than restore. They also say that this destruction will have a knock-on effect on historic properties throughout New Zealand as insurance premiums skyrocket.