The Earthquake Commission is using contracts containing broad confidentiality clauses in an attempt to avoid future legal proceedings, complaints, and critical public comment from disgruntled homeowners, a document publicly available on the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand’s EQC Mediation Service website shows.
The pro forma agreement is used when disputes heard by the EQC Mediation Service are settled, however similar clauses are included in settlement agreements presented for claimants to sign when they are not represented by a lawyer and have not elected to mediate their dispute.
The clauses include an agreement that the claimant will not “commence any proceedings in New Zealand or elsewhere which in any way arise out of or relate to the Dispute, against EQC or any of its related persons, servants, employees or agents or against any other person”.
Claimants agree to “not make any complaint in relation to the Dispute to any professional, governmental or other body about the conduct of EQC or any of its related persons, servants, employees or agents or against any other person and to withdraw any complaint already made”.
An additional clause prohibits claimants from making “any public comment critical of EQC or any of its related persons, servants, employees or agents or against any other person in respect of any matters which in any way arise out of or relate to the Dispute”. This clause would prevent disgruntled homeowners from talking about their experiences on TV, at a public meeting, or on Facebook.
“No further proceedings” clauses may be appropriate when parties have received legal advice, but clauses relating to complaints and public comment seem like bullying behaviour from a government agency trying to hide their mistakes.
The new Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Nicky Wagner, has refused to release the contents of a document tabled at a 21 December 2016 meeting between Crown negotiators and Church Property Trustee representatives.
Entire pages of the document, embedded below, were redacted under the obligation of confidence and negotiation sections of the Official Information Act.
The Minister recently released various cabinet documents in relation to the Cathedral stalemate, including a 13 December 2016 cabinet paper presented by previous Minister Gerry Brownlee a week before the meeting. It recommended the approval of a $10 million payment toward the Cathedral reinstatement and a $15 million credit facility. In a Stuff article Minister Brownlee said that the offer was made in December, but diocesan chancellor Jeremy Johnson said no binding offer had been received.
The Christchurch City Council is reviewing its district plan, and we live in/near an area that might be subject to rezoning. The Christchurch City Council, like they’re supposed to, is consulting with residents. They’ve sent out information about the proposed zoning changes to ratepayers who might be affected. All good so far.
Except it seems a bit more like an exercise in looking like they’ve consulted with the public. Let me explain.
1) Send 12 jargon-filled A4 pages which say a lot without saying much
I’d argue that a lot of people in Christchurch don’t want to voluntarily deal with more bureaucracy than they need to (think EQC and their insurance company). Because of that a balance needs to occur between sending sufficient information and that information being clear and concise (to avoid as many people as possible putting your mail in the ‘I don’t really care or have time for this’ pile). I’d tentatively argue that including the Draft Residential Chapter (pdf), Draft Commercial Chapter (pdf), and District Plan Review (pdf) information sheets in these mail outs resulted in information overload for many people who would have been better served by simply being sent the smaller (i.e. double-sided A4 sheet), easier to read and more relevant What’s Happening In Your Area sheet. When the actual draft chapters are hundred of pages clear and concise summary information sheets do need to be available, whether they’re mailed out or not.
Some of the information included seems like it’s been copy and pasted from internal material with a very different target audience. Three sentences into the main body of the information booklet Draft Residential Chapter the words “density” and “greenfield” are introduced, both without being defined. Other gems include “housing intensification”, “medium density housing” (defined on the very last page of the booklet), and “city-wide intensification mechanisms”. The “city-wide intensification mechanisms” enable “quick gains”. To the Council’s credit examples are given for what “quick gains” are. “Civic park”, “heritage park”, and “green corridor” are less egregious examples from another information sheet.
2) Schedule all of your public meetings for 5:30pm on a weekday
Include so little but so much information in step one that for anyone to properly understand it in order to make an informed submission they’d have to read a lot more information or attend a consultation meeting (or both). Schedule all but one of your public consultation meetings (pdf) for 5:30pm-7:30pm on weekdays. Ignore the fact that residents might still be struggling to navigate the road works on their way home from work at this time, or might be having dinner, or might be putting young children to bed. Get bonus points for sending letters out that are advertising some of these meetings eight days before those meetings are scheduled.
3) Make it hard to find things on your website
What’s your number? To have a look at the district plan review zone map you need to guess which section of a tiny map your house is in. It took me a few tries to find our house, but perhaps that’s my poor sense of direction. Or maybe the City Council could, you know, label areas with names, or let you search by street.
4) If huge, potentially controversial changes are being proposed, ensure the diagrams “explaining” them are really confusing
People like things being explained with pictures and diagrams. They might even skip reading altogether and just look at the diagrams. That makes the diagrams that are used pretty important.
In the area of Halswell (pdf) the City Council wants to introduce a commercial centre, quite possibly one of the most controversial things you can do in a suburban area.
“A draft option is to develop a commercial centre on Halswell Road. The area highlighted on the map indicates the area within which the commercial centre could be located. … It is anticipated that this centre would occupy up to 15 hectares of land when it is fully developed.”
Halswell. Let’s play a game called ‘find my house’. Does that tiny road say Halswell Road along it? Isn’t there a subdivision in that blank gap in the top-left corner now? Why are proposed roads squiggly arrow lines? What is a blue and a green network? By ‘proposed key activity centre’ do they mean ‘commercial centre’? (Yes. Yes they do.) Who really knows? It sure looks like the City Council doesn’t want anyone to work out what’s going on.
It’s also interesting to note that Halswell’s public meeting was on February 27, but there’s no news coverage of it or the proposed changes in general. What’s confusing to the public is confusing to the media too.
Tom Hooper – CEO, Canterbury Development Corporation
The Kiwi mantra of ‘give it a go’ is far more valuable than we give it credit. Christchurch might not be attractive to the risk-adverse at the moment, but that’s alright. The job right now is to attract and retain young people, and make sure that talented young people are going to want to come here.
Vibeke Linde-Strandby – Architect
“Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes and even strategy.” – Tim Brown
Arlanda Stad is a business park concept with a soul.
“This is the first time I’ve tried to explain architectural concepts without slides.”
John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.
John was put in charge of a gifted education programme. His first question was “What do I do?” the response was “What do you want to do?”.
The answer was the World Peace Game that features the UN, arms dealers, saboteurs and weather goddesses.
John admits to his students “I don’t know the answers.”
The documentary film John talks about is showing at the Hollywood Cinema in Christchurch, details will be up on the TEDxEQChCh website.
Jamie Fitzgerald – Adventurer, presenter on First Crossings
“For 42 hours we did not move anywhere.”
“So we haven’t moved anywhere and we’re winning the race.”
Sometimes when you think you’re making the least progress you’re actually making the most.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” – Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
They asked what are the insights from other people’s success that we can apply tomorrow?
We only ever focussed on that next milestone and we celebrated it.
“Why do I push my boundaries? If I let an opportunity pass I might be letting myself down.”
Ryan Reynolds – Chief Evangelist, Life In Vacant Spaces
We live in a culture of permits.
Anything a bit out of the ordinary is forbidden unless we get special permission.
We internalize this and close ourselves off.
There is a brief time in adolescence where we act as if anything is allowed unless strictly specified as forbidden.
Approach any rule asking what does it allow?
The Book Exchange Fridge Gapfiller project: people asked “Who’s going to be locking the fridge every night?”
A permanent solution might have been too daunting.
If people will not try things without permission, you have to make it easy to get a permit, Life in Vacant Spaces deals with barriers.
It’s easy to try something when it’s temporary.
What if you could try out an idea for free for 30 days?
Festival of Transitional Architecture.
“We’re totally unresourced and in over our heads, but everyone should get in over their heads right now.”
The caption of one of the projects featured in Ryan’s slides: “Needs funding – let’s talk :)”
The opposite of a permit is an invitation.
We want to foster a creative culture of creators and doers.
Kiel Johnson – Artist
A good idea only comes when working on a bad idea.
Lots of slides with awesome projects Kiel has worked on.
Made a printing press: “I am the press, I have the power.”
Made a survival vest for an emergency “I’m living in Los Angeles so when we fall into the ocean…”
“Get started on whatever you do… and good things will happen.”
“I do outreach… which is basically making more people like me.”
Two words: robot party.
Jane Henley – CEO, World Building Council
Green in a generation.
What we’ve created now is a set of disconnects and it’s difficult to realize visions in this environment.
“I wonder how long their drive to work is everyday.” Jane on a photo of a suburban cul-de-sac.
Market uptake is increasing in speed with each new technology.
We use labels to understand the plethora of information available to us. Performance ratings – energy, water, fuel efficiency ratings on appliances and vehicles.
Growing vegetables, community involvement, walking, closeness to family – valuable things from the past that need to be brought back.
Consumption to co-sumption
Good ideas: walking school bus, AirBNB – renting a room in your house out, carpooling (10 weddings have happened because of connections made through carpooling.com).
Community collaboration Say a neighbourhood wants green energy – these community collaborators think up a solution.
We can look at Skype and the NZ Insulation Programme and see values becoming easier to achieve and becoming more important – connecting with friends overseas, having a warm home…
“When I was at school working together was called cheating.”
What’s the key to using alternative energy, like solar and wind? Storage — so we can have power on tap even when the sun’s not out and the wind’s not blowing. In this accessible, inspiring talk, Donald Sadoway takes to the blackboard to show us the future of large-scale batteries that store renewable energy. As he says: “We need to think about the problem differently. We need to think big. We need to think cheap.”
Making a liquid battery to solve the strain on power sources.
“If you want to make something dirt cheap, make it out of dirt.”
“One of the greatest benefits of being a professor? Coloured chalk.”
“David’s young, smart, and wants a PhD.”
Abbas Nazari – Student, Former Afghan Refugee
Don’t think I could do his talk justice. Watch the video when it’s posted.
Wil McLellan – Founder, EPIC
Disruptive collaboration, the journey of getting EPIC built.
“Not feeling super positive.” – Wil on the day after the earthquake.
“We we got no money, we got no land, we got no property development experience.” But that didn’t hold them back.
“You’re pretty good at art… cough Lord Of The Rings” Wil to one of the most creative businesses in New Zealand, WETA.
Challenge convention, think outside the box.
Jed, Hera with Happiness Stan – Music
Jade Temepara – Founder, Hand Over A Hundy
Think about food differently.
Food has changed through generations ending up with things with no nutritional value.
A few days after the February quake there was no food in a supermarket near Jade and there wasn’t going to be for a week. “What am I going to do to make sure I have enough to sustain my own family” if food wasn’t available anywhere for a period of time?
Start a food revolution.
Hand Over A Hundy gifts $100 to families to start a vegetable garden.
Handing down skills and knowledge through generations – most of the mentors assigned to families are older people.
Do you have your own food system? Are you passing down valuable skills to your kids? Are you teaching your children where real food comes from?
What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.
“We did not write a report, we did not ask for permission.”
Food is a common language.
“And we’ve done it all without a flipping strategy document.”
“I’ve seen the power of small actions and it’s awesome.”
“And for some reason I can’t comprehend it’s surrounded by prickly plants.”
“And there’s some people who don’t know what a vegetable looks like if it’s not in plastic with a label.”
“If you eat, you’re in.”
Ernesto Sirolli – Founder, Sirolli Institute
“We paid them to come… and sometimes they showed up.”
“Instead of asking ‘why aren’t you growing anything?’ we just said ‘thank God we’re here’.”
“If people don’t want to be helped, leave them alone.” It’s about respect.
“Let me tell you a secret. There is a problem with community meetings. Entrepreneurs don’t come.”
“How do you do that?” “I do something very, very difficult. I shut up.”
Entrepreneurs want confidentiality, dedication and for you to realize that a successful business needs:
A fantastic product, marketing and financial management.
None of the successful companies started with one. Study Richard Branson’s book – the first two pages. He doesn’t mention I. He says We 32 times.
George Parker – Actor
George talked about a performance he was involved in about the Canterbury earthquakes.
“We were used to working in unconventional spaces.”
Joshua Iosefo – Poet
An amazing live performance on invisible borders and being brown.
Ian Taylor – Managing Director, Animation Research Ltd
Ian wowed everyone with his animations.
“While everything was turning to crap here, people of that calibre were thinking about you.” Ian on getting help from big companies for his earthquake auction.
“Don’t see why not” attitude gets his staff around the world.
“Something special happened in Christchurch, grasp it.”
Sam Johnson – Founder, Student Volunteer Army
When we’re young we’re taught to value money, time, skills. Contribution is more important.
“Do you have any skills?” – A business to Sam after he asked how he could help after the earthquake.
“Why humans exist is to interact with each other.”
“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. Pick a general direction and implement like hell.”*
The only way to get there is by doing four hours of volunteer work.
In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America’s unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.
“There is power in identity.”
1/3 young black men in USA are in jail, prison, on probation or parole.
34% of black male population in Alabama have lost the right to vote permanently.
Rich and guilty are treated better than poor and innocent.
The death penalty question is really: “do we deserve to kill?”
1/9 on death row are innocent. In aviation we would never let an airline fly if one plane out of nine went down.
11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white opposed to black.
22 times more likely to get the death penalty if the defendant is black opposed to white.
Germany would never institute the death penalty – it would be impossible with their history to endorse the systematic killing of its citizens. But in the USA it’s fine to kill more black people than white on death row.
“That’s going to make you tired, tired, tired… that’s why you gotta be brave, brave, brave.” To Bryan on his justice initiatives.
The opposite of poverty is justice.
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.
Alexandros Washburn – Urban Designer
“When you meet one kiwi, you meet 100.”
On seeing one of the towers on fire on 9/11: “And we were interested in this from a technical standpoint as architects because no one had died in a high-rise building that had sprinklers.” He thought that the plane close by was some sort of firefighting plane. It wasn’t.
9/11 was the first day of school for a lot of students (something I’d never heard before).
So many similarities to Christchurch: cellphones and most landlines weren’t working immediately afterwards, portable toilets, military stationed around the city, a no go zone, a mayoral election.
Improve the quality of public life by improving the quality of public space.
The smallest units matter.
If it’s worth remembering, it’s worth drawing.
How do you judge an effective public space? By the perspective of a pedestrian.
Alexandros drew an awesome diagram of a street with dimensions.
When you’re walking down the street, something should catch your attention every 10m.
Sewer catch basins can’t be moved when placed – it’s too expensive.
The fire department want specific things in specific places.
“We had to think clearly, when there was high emotion.” After 9/11.
You have to hope for something greater tomorrow and you have to accept the fear that generates.
My hope for Christchurch video
Created by Becca MacGeorge.
Great day. Watch the talks when they get posted on the interwebs.
About a month ago Social Innovation held the CERA Recovery Strategy Youth Jam at Hagley Community College because the submissions received so far on the draft Recovery Strategy were missing young people’s opinions. About 20 of us went over CERA’s Recovery Strategy for Christchurch, and as a group submitted responses to the questions posed by CERA about the strategy (we’re in the organisation spreadsheet under ‘Emerging Leaders Forum’). Excellent food was provided by The Sauce Kitchen.
These are the questions and some of our responses to them, from my notes and the spreadsheet. Longer versions of our answers are in the spreadsheet, typed up by some poor people at CERA from 49 A2 sheets.
On with the show.
We’ve highlighted the most important lessons we’ve learnt since the earthquakes began – but are there others?
How useful technology was – http://eq.org.nz, Twitter. Use existing technology more effectively. We all have cellphones, can we take advantage of them better? The Civil Defence website was a train wreck, just a big list of updates. Radio – are we meant to listen to a specific station?
The definition of “essential services” is different between people. For some people public transport is essential as it is the only way they have to get around.
There’s a reliance on volunteers – Student Volunteer Army, the EQ map etc.
Neighbourhoods could be trained – have their own Search & Rescue team, they are willing
Only a few schools were used as Civil Defence “bases” for shelter etc. – why not use more?
Businesses need backup plans, be able to work away from the office. Not just technology backup.
Need to be careful what is used as a memorial eg. the opposite of the CTV lift shaft idea
Communities formed and came together after the earthquakes – how do we glue them together so they stick once we have rebuilt?
Need to record down what has happened, capture stories – library is doing this, audio recording booth at The Show
Emergency kit – being prepared
Our ability to adapt to change
Together, do these goals describe the recovered greater Christchurch that you want? Are there other key goals we should seek to achieve?
Communication throughout the process
High speed broadband
Sustainably manage resources
Environmental need takes into account
Better air quality
Better ways to get around
Easy to commute to city
Modern tram system, not heritage – light rail
Precincts mean you know where to go, but variety is important
Attracting new people
Living in town
Death to malls
Democracy, voices heard, CCC open, transparent
Educated community, free seminars in first aid
Diversity – ages, backgrounds, ethnicity
Do not return to the way it was, new ideas, opportunities
Building community resilience
Engagement between locals and tourists -> interaction, not segregated
Positive spontaneous stuff
Sense of ownership of public space
Given demands on resources, do you support the priorities identified? [What priorities did we miss?]
Enabling people is important. Getting businesses back into their red zone properties
Hosting major events
Engaged and informed public
Schools and education
Safety and well-being
Economy, businesses, creation of jobs
Big infrastructure – stadiums
Focus on the word affected areas
Open spaces near buildings – somewhere to go if we have another quake
Getting people sorted, but fixing for the future
Safe place for youth day and night
Giving opportunity to voice ideas
Connecting the city with transport
Environment and sustainability
Acceleration as a priority is concerning – do it well
Decreasing reliance on infrastructure through design
Re-design, don’t just re-establish
Being the garden city
Get back the old before we build new things
Business connection hub
Youth input and consultation
Preserve heritage buildings
Significance of people losing their lives
Recreation centres/areas in residential red zones
There’s no perfect number of Recovery Plans, so if you think we need other plans tell us what and why?
Community – maintaining strength, each neighbourhood is unique and knows its own needs
Too much weight towards economic plans
Communication. Transparency and accountability for public spending
Energy, power generation, efficiency, localised, smaller scale
Recovery requires confidence – of insurers, banks, developers, investors, business-owners, residents and visitors. Will the proposed Plans provide sufficient confidence for people to progress recovery?
If youth involved, they will build where they want to live
Being involved at all stages. Accountability, communication, collaboration -> confidence
Investors can be part of something new
Insurers – will they insure, pay out, how much for?
Community involvement gives confidence, there’s safety in numbers.
Red zone people lack of confidence
What will ensure decision makers deliver the recovery we want, as soon as we need it, at a cost we can afford?
“Safes found during demolition – there had been only half a dozen – were either opened under police or security firm supervision, or, if they were attached to concrete, dumped.”
Why is this even necessary? Is it that hard to work out that a safe found in the rubble of building X maybe belongs to someone occupying building X? Could we build on that and guess that someone occupying building X would be able to open the safe themselves, without force, even if it is attached to concrete?
Scarier, is that computers and files containing confidential information, in this case mental health records are 1) being “thrown out” at all and 2) if they are “water-damaged”, which doesn’t fly with me, aren’t being disposed of securely.
“The items she was most concerned about included files and computer hard drives containing personal information. Securities House, a seven-level building in Gloucester St near Latimer Square, was demolished by March Construction and Shilton and Brown in May. It housed at least nine mental health agencies.
Tenants, tipped off about the demolition, managed to stop a truck leaving the site in the rain and divert it to an empty section where the contents were tipped.
Tenants then spent the next two days retrieving files from the rubbish. The files had been in locked metal cabinets which had been emptied.
Office manager Mark Petrie said he had contacted a project manager at the time of the demolition to be told no chance existed for any records or personal effects to be salvaged.
He was told all records were water-damaged and filing cabinets rusted.
A former Shilton and Brown worker who worked on the Securities House demolition told The Press workers were told to throw files, many of which appeared to him to be in good order, in the rubbish.”
“Canterbury Muscular Dystrophy Association office manager Eris Le Compte, whose office was on the first floor of Community House, said she had gone to look for the 230 personal medical files she had in her office.”
Hopefully other businesses are doing better, because it’s not just a couple of buildings in the red zone that are housing sensitive information.
CERA feigns ignorance. Clearly some demolition contractors have no idea what they’re doing (or every idea of what they’re doing). If CERA has no knowledge of specific cases of important belongings going missing inside the red zone they’re obviously not doing a very good job.
“A CERA spokeswoman said CERA regularly and actively engaged with contractors who had a clear understanding of their obligations within contracts and the law.
‘We have no knowledge of the specific cases you refer to and we can’t comment on whether any allegations of loss of goods within the CBD Red Zone are attributed to contractors’ staff or some other person,’ the spokeswoman said.”
What’s been going on inside the red zone raises a number of issues businesses need to be planning for. After an event like the Canterbury Earthquake, how effective will locks, safes, and filing cabinets be at protecting valuable and confidential information through demolition and when 930+ people are left roaming in and around your building for a significant period of time?
A week ago, Christchurchians braved the aftermath of the snow and met at the Bush Bar for the first TEDxEQChCh Salon*. Previous TED talks were shown, and people were invited to share what they were involved in post-quake, or something else the audience would be interested in. Someone I talked to summed up the difference between May’s TEDxEQChCh well: this was more about the people than the buildings.
Kunst Buzz‘s tweet cathedral, the ChristChurch Cathedral made of a random selection of almost 1000 #eqnz tweets (approximately 98,000 characters) which was on display in the TEDxEQChCh lobby, among other TEDxEQChCh memorabilia that has been given to Te Papa.
Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability
Brene Brown hacks into lives for a living. She talks about banana nut muffins, worthiness, being imperfect, her office supply addiction and human connection, which led her on a quest that sent her to therapy, but changed the way she lived.
Something she said seemed very relevant post-quake: “they had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others.” Very similar to advice given in a pamphlet dropped in our letterbox yesterday.
Tony Robbins asks why we do what we do
Tony Robbins usually runs 50+ hour coaching seminars over weekends. He talks about patterns, resources, needs and describes what happened in one of his seminars of 2000 people from 45 different countries in Hawaii on the day of 9/11.
Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter
Mark Bezos usually fights poverty, but also volunteers as a firefighter. He talks about his first fire, and that we shouldn’t wait for something to happen before we try to make a difference.
Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy
Dave Meslin tries to make local issues engaging. He talks about barriers that keep people from getting involved.
Tim Taylor talked about Project Regenerate a subsection on the Rebuild Christchurch site which shares visions for a future Christchurch in video form and lets people vote and comment on them.
Trent Hiles talked about the creation of a multi-purpose arts complex in Lyttelton and Lyttelton’s Act of Art, a Gap Filler project whose first installation, a tribute to James K Baxter and the town, is up.
Grace Duyndam talked about the 350.orgMoving Planet September 24th worldwide rally against fossil fuels.
* TEDx Salon’s are intended to engage the community between larger events through small recurring events, keeping the spirit of TED alive—ideas worth spreading.
A van was crushed by rubble following the February Canterbury earthquake, containing Israeli tourists. One of them, Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi, was killed instantly. Michal Friedman, Liron Sadeh and Guy Yurdan escaped. It’s been revealed that Israeli involvement after the quake has been investigated by the SIS and the police.
What appears to be the original Southland Times article that broke the investigation seems to have been poorly fact checked and shows a lack of editorial oversight. Shemi Tzur, Israeli’s ambassador in the South Pacific is said to have flown from Australia, where he is based, except a quick Google search shows that he is actually based in Wellington.
The same article talks about a piece of suspected Russian malware named “agent.btz” and says that “attempts to remove the malware have so far been unsuccessful”, which gives the impression that the computers of the United States Military are still infected. The next part of the sentence states that “new, more potent variations of agent.btz are still appearing”, so what is probably meant is that attempts to eliminate the malware out of existence have been unsuccessful, which isn’t surprising considering the nature of malware and software in general.
The Southland Times article says that Ofer Mizrahi “was reportedly found to be carrying at least five passports.” John Key said “according to his information, Mizrahi was found with only one passport”, of European origin.
The group of three that left Christchurch gave Israeli representatives his Israeli passport. So that makes at least two passports.
Shemi Tzur says that he was handed Ofer’s effects and they contained “more than one passport.” Does that makes at least three passports or does this include the Israeli passport handed off at the airport?
He says it’s common for Israelis to have dual citizenship because Israeli passports aren’t welcome in some countries, which is understandable. However that doesn’t explain why Ofer was traveling with both/multiple passports—I am an expert thanks to watching Border Security on TV and conclude that less eyebrows would be raised at an airport if, when searched, someone wasn’t in the possession of more than one passport.
Within 12 hours of the quake the three remaining Israelis had evacuated Christchurch, driven to the airport by Shemi Tzur himself.
This raised eyebrows because they left Ofer behind in the van, but in their defense there was nothing they could have done and it wasn’t like they were leaving someone injured behind. Guy Yurdan, one of the three, said that Ofer was killed instantly.
The advice from many countries to citizens in Christchurch would have been to get out of there as soon as possible. The potential lack of accommodation, food, and water, plus the risk of further aftershocks would have supported their decision to leave as quickly as possible.
A mysterious seventh Israeli
Concerns were raised about a “mysterious seventh Israeli” who was in New Zealand illegally and was reported missing after the earthquake, but weeks later was reported to have left the country. Not sure whether there was anything suspicious about the person apart from their visa situation.
Five Facebook likes
A Facebook tribute page for Ofer came to the attention of investigators because it only had five likes over four months (now 32). Apparently many Israelis don’t have social network accounts. Perhaps those on Facebook who knew Ofer didn’t know of the page? It seems a stretch to say that this is suspicious.
Four phone calls
It’s been reported that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned John Key four times on the day of the earthquake. John Key says that they only actually spoke once in “those first days.” It seems reasonable that a Prime Minister is hard to get hold of, especially during a state of emergency. I’m not sure what the significance of prime ministers calling each other is, I assume representatives from many countries spoke to John Key as a result of the earthquake.
Two search and rescue teams
There was reportedly one Israeli search and rescue team but then there were two? Either way it seems at least one either wasn’t allowed access to the red zone or was removed from the red zone by armed personnel. According to Shemi Tzur, a team was sent by the parents of Ofer Levy (other Ofer?) and Gabi Ingel, two Israelis who died in the earthquake.
The article says “Israeli families reacted that way when their children needed help anywhere in the world, often because it was demanded by insurance companies.” Insurance companies often demand that families hire and fly to a foreign country private search and rescue teams when search and rescue is already underway by the country?
“He served in the Israel Defence Forces in an elite paratrooper battalion specializing in special operations. He fought in the Attrition War, first lebanon war and the Yom Kippur War, remained a reserve officer for twenty years and served also in the intelligence community.”
Their team entered the red zone “accompanied by police, only to retrieve the personal effects of two people who died.” “There was only one rescue team and it was allowed inside the red zone to accompany police to retrieve backpacks belonging to Mr Levy and Mr Ingel.”
One Israel Civil Defense Chief
The Southland Times article says “In the hours after the 6.3 quake struck: Israel’s civil defence chief left Israel for Christchurch.” The New Zealand Herald reports that Matan Vilnai did visit Christchurch, but nine days later. And not from Israel, but from Australia where he was for a visit.
This doesn’t seem suspicious.
A groups of forensic analysts
An Israeli forensic analysis team sent by the Israeli government worked on victim identification in the morgue. A security audit of the national police computer database was ordered after someone connected that the analysts could have accessed it. The police say that their system is secure. Someone from the SIS says that it could be compromised with a USB drive:
“An SIS officer said it would take only moments for a USB drive to be inserted in a police computer terminal and for a program allowing remote backdoor access to be loaded.”—Stuff
It’s questionable why USB access would even be enabled on computers that have access to such confidential material.
Why New Zealand?
Gordon Thomas, who has written about Mossad says that Mossad trainees, possibly picked during compulsory military service, were usually planted overseas in groups of four. He says that the CIA and MI6 have offices in Auckland and have “held high-level meetings with New Zealand spy bosses”. They want to know what sparked the SIS investigation, what investigations were carried out and what passports the group possessed. He thinks New Zealand is a credible Mossad target because al Qaeda cells could expand into the Pacific Rim. Israel would want to know what our intelligence agencies know, what they are sharing and how good they are at getting information.
He says that Mossad has a reputation for using students as agents and that using two couples is “standard Mossad operation style. The reason they have a man and a woman … it’s easy to pass unnoticed, unchallenged, and the woman acts as back-up.”
New Zealand passports are readily accepted around the world. Anyone gaining one who had nefarious purposes would likely face no contest at a border. Paul Buchanan, who has worked at the Pentagon says that it’s unlikely the four were Mossad agents because of their age and the apparent low-level task of passport fraud they were undertaking, but they might have been recruits operating as sayanins, the Hebrew word for helper. He says that after the September earthquake, Christchurch may have been seen as a good target to get names of New Zealanders to use for false passports.
The three survivors from the van gave an interview to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, days after the earthquake. It would seem unlike spies to put themselves out in the public eye like that, but maybe that’s reverse psychology. Who knows.