Dr Liz Gordon: Flooding



We have hardly had any rain at all this year down here in Canterbury.  And until about two weeks ago the average maximum temperature was still at about 20 celsius, which was jolly fine for late autumn.

Today we got the rain, its mum, dad and all the rellies. My street has a surface flooding problem.  I have been told that we do not have stormwater drains, that the grills in the road just go straight into the river gravels.  Whether or not that is true (it seems a bit neanderthal) (one of my readers might know), when it rains heavily a large pool of water forms at the bottom of my driveway, and in other places along the street.  Garth, my late husband, poetically called it Lake Dickson, after the name of the street.

Tonight Lake Dickson lives up to its name. It never gets worse, never encroaches, but sits there until it gets the opportunity to gently drain away. Once it stops raining, it goes quite quickly. No, I will not go and take a picture of it for this blog.  It is wet.  Are you mad?

My suburb is built on the Waimakariri flood plain.  It is at a relatively high point on the plains. Much of Christchurch is only about 5 metres about seal level, whereas we are about 30 metres above that. This is one of the reasons my area was not so badly hit in the first (2010) earthquake, even though it was very large and just down the road.  Good land, relatively high.  

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They always say about Christchurch city that it was essentially built on a bowl of jelly, which was one cause of the damage to buildings in the 2011 quake (lesson – don’t build tall buildings on wobbly land).  We escape all that out West.

Quite a lot of the city, and much of the region, is tonight in flood. Floods are nasty, stinky things, I think worse than earthquakes unless a building happens to collapse on you.  Because Christchurch is so low, much of the city is prone to inundation (that’s a great word) and this is only going to get worse with global warming.

But tonight, as I sit writing this blog, there is a miracle.  I am warm, and dry, have a new but harmless and temporary lake in my street, the power is on and all is safe and well here.  Best wishes to those not having the same luck.

POSTSCRIPT: I wrote an account a couple of weeks ago of a hearing for an application to open a new liquor store around the corner. We heard last week that the application has been declined. The applicant has the right to appeal, but was well and truly beaten and may not do so.


Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. Great news about the liquor store, so jolly well done on that one. I note that immigrants of a certain ethnicity are cashing in on money-spinning businesses which may be regarded as symptoms of the breakdown of traditional societal values : booze barons, pre- school care, and institutionalised elder care. ( Treading on on egg shells here.)

    Christchurch, the quintessential picturesque portrayal of beautiful autumns, was built on alluvial plain, and latterly paying a high price for historical decisions not panning out as envisaged by its hard working planners, dreamers, and heroic sloggers. Huge sympathy for all the people now affected by the current weather advent.

    (It’s a pity that that costly little bowel motion who blighted one gentle ChCh autumn day with terrible murders can’t be dispatched back to where he belongs, and take his evil malignant vibes with him.)

    Kia kaha.

  2. The wet weather has brought out the idiots in their 4 wheel drives that find it fun to drive fast down a flooded street and causing more pain to the homeowners . In some cases they have driven round road closed signs . No accounting for stupidity.
    On the other side of the coin many are going the extra mile to help out those in need.

  3. And yet the No Climate Change cabal sticks to its witless guns…
    We really aren’t as big brained as we like to think.
    Sigh! 🙁

  4. Sooo … I guess the sensible thing is to do is to not build on flood plains.
    Take a leaf out of the Maori and where they built their Pa. The traditional Pa.

    Not on the plains aye.

    • Denny we have virtually no coordination of where communities are built and much of it relies on for profit developers. They take the money and run with no ongoing responsibility, and those who should be responsible are local councils often populated with supporters of the developers.

      Communities need to be developed away from flood plains and on land that can provide food and community based employment. Well planned communities need little mechanised transport. With our ridiculous demands for energy that has been promoted over decades then forestry needs to be a part of local resources and perhaps we can look at moving away from the resource consuming modern dwelling construction into something more enduring long term that is inherently warmer.
      Our lifestyles at present will just feed the collapse ahead.
      The majority of our roads are surfaced with oil products or tar from coal. Cement has a horrendous GHG footprint and there are not enough landfill areas to take our CBD replacement programme yet we blindly persist in this system madness.

      • I don’t disagree with you JW.

        Here’s Aucklands water problem.

        “Watercare has confirmed the cost of water will rise by around $80 per household each for nearly a decade. Household water costs will go up by 7 per cent on 1 July, by the same amount next July, and then by 9.5 per cent each year until 2029.

        Think of this as a “congestion” charge. If you’re poor and can’t afford it, go live somewhere else!”

        • Den its a systemic problem.
          We are over populated with intense pockets of population outstripping resources and creating ongoing environmental damage.

          Going to live elsewhere when the system has dismantled smaller pockets of population with resources to feed and provide for healthy communities, has become untenable with the economics of douglarse demolishing the threads that held an earlier system together.

          Business NZ (now calling themselves “The NZ Initiative”) are crying out for more immigration to feed their harvesting of wealth from the consumer while banks continue to escalate the cost of living spaces.

          The 1935 govt in NZ laid down a framework that moved us further away from feudalism to a more potentially equitable framework, but this was never completed and has been progressively broken down since.

          The racism embedded even in the emerging social responsibility has never been addressed at its source.

          Its a class war and the losers are very evident.


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