Desperate and unsettling stories are emerging in the poorest communities of Christchurch. Residents of the Eastern suburbs, especially Avonside, are still without water, and contact with state aid services has been zero. Housing New Zealand residents — neglected after the September 4th earthquake — are once again angry at the lack of help in their blocks, and are struggling to get through.
Members of Beyond Resistance and the strong community centred in Linwood/Stanmore have been door knocking and distributing food in the wider Avonside community. Using cars, bikes or on foot, they have managed to take prepared food and water out to those in need. Often they are the first contact with the outside world for Christchurch East residents, and their efforts have been very appreciated. Bottled water, soup, vegetables and gas canisters for cookers have been the main items of need.
However efforts to get these basic needs out to neglected residents are being hindered by bureaucracy and heavy-handed policing. On more than one occasion, a member of Beyond Resistance has been profiled and stopped by Australian Police patrolling the area, while motorists and sight-seers snapping photos drive pass unchecked. Stockpiles of food and water controlled by the Salvation Army would not be released to some people working to get supplies to the affected communities, even after repeated explanations that such food and water are desperately needed in the greater Avonside area and would be distributed by them.
In a clear exposition of the illogical system we live in, the local Stanmore Road supermarket is closed and protected by security — despite being full of food and supplies. Earlier in the week a man was beaten at the same supermarket by security for trying to access food and smokes. He had no money, and no power to access food stamps or support funds.
The immediate redirection of aid and supplies are needed in the suburb of Christchurch East. Food and water needs to be made available free of charge and to anyone who needs it, regardless of membership in an aid organisation. Now is not the time to profit from the sales of food and water (not that there ever is an ok time for such exploitation). The free movement of residents and their supporters is essential in the aid effort, and should not be hindered by out-of-town Police positioned to protect property rather than people.