Wellington property owners have been acting quickly and responsibly to assess the damage to their buildings in the days since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit the top of the South Island. In my own offices on Lambton Quay, the owner asked that we stay out of the building until he had had engineers assess the damage. This work was completed on Tuesday afternoon and (as there was happily no damage) we were then given the all-clear to reoccupy the building. This has been the process throughout the city with no direction or help from central government and where necessary buildings have been kept closed for further inspection and remedial work. Justin Lester may not have satisfied Brownlee's authoritarian bent but four days after the earthquake there have been no reports of any injuries from earthquake damage in central Wellington so the risk appears to have been well managed and the mayor seems to have made exactly the right call in not closing down the entire central city.
The best thing that a government can do to facilitate the recovery from a natural disaster, as was proved in Joplin, Missouri*, is to get the hell out of the way and let individuals and businesses get on with the job of recovery. A few of Wellington's buildings are seriously damaged but the vast majority have superficial or no damage at all. We don't need red zones, and we certainly don't need the Brownlee's jackbooted approach to dealing with residents and property owners in Christchurch, to get on with the recovery work. Please, just leave us alone, Gauleiter Brownlee.