The Post-Earthquake City : Disaster and Recovery in Christchurch, New Zealand book cover
1st Edition

The Post-Earthquake City
Disaster and Recovery in Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after February 28, 2023
ISBN 9780367225520
February 28, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
288 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book critically assesses Christchurch, New Zealand as an evolving post-earthquake city. It examines the impact of the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence, employing a chronological structure to consider ‘damage and displacement’, ‘recovery and renewal’, and ‘the city in transition’.

It offers a framework for understanding the multiple experiences and realities of post-earthquake recovery in Christchurch, New Zealand. It details how the rebuilding of the city has occurred, and examines what has arisen in the context of an unprecedented opportunity to refashion land uses and social experience from the ground up. A recurring tension is observed between the desire and tendency of some to reproduce previous urban orthodoxies and the experimental efforts of others to fashion new cultures of progressive place-making and attention to the more-than-human city. The book offers several lessons for understanding disaster recovery in cities. It illuminates the opportunities disasters create for both the reassertion of the familiar and the emergence of the new; highlights the divergence of lived experience during recovery; and considers the extent to which a post-disaster city is prepared for likely climate futures.

The book will be valuable reading for critical disaster researchers as well as geographers, sociologists, urban planners and policy makers interested in disaster recovery.

Table of Contents


The post-disaster city of Christchurch

Contextualising Christchurch

Theorising disaster-affected places

Positioning the book

Structure of the book




2. The fracturing of a vulnerable city


Vulnerability, resilience and security

Technocratic security: insurance and building codes

The ecology of the earthquake sequence

Death and destruction

Rapid disaster response


3. Impacts on households and communities


A differentiated urban landscape: patterns and movements

Land zoning and insurance claims

The case of Southshore

Psycho-social distress and mental well-being

Community and neighbourhood expressions of support




4. Governance and the cartographies of recovery


Issues of governance

Panoptical maps and plans

Business activation alliances

Heritages lost and found

From rebuild to regeneration


5. Housing recovery


Urban planning and residential real estate development

Christchurch’s pre-earthquake housing path

Housing damage, insurance and recovery planning

Central city housing development

Suburban housing

New housing in the satellite greenfields


6. City centre recovery and commercial property investment


Property investment decision-making and calculative practices

Responding to loss in the central city

Making space for the commercial rebuild

Property owners and investors respond

The progress of the central city rebuild


7. Voluntary and community sector responses


The background to post-disaster voluntarism in Christchurch

Faith-based organization: established and new forms of voluntarism

Resident-led advocacy and activism

Emergent voluntarism: the Student Volunteer Army




8. From transitional activities to place-making


A cultural politics of place

Developing and performing the transitional city

Transitional ethics, aesthetics and affective communities

Mature transition: making a sustainable contribution?


9. Landscapes of consumption


Creating landscapes of consumption

Retailing, hospitality and experiments in business

The role of anchor projects in revitalisation

Cultural heritage and restorations


10. The eastern suburbs


Disruption and recovery in the eastern suburbs

Availability of affordable housing

The residential red zone

Sport and recreation facilities

Educational upheaval

The forgotten east?


11. The more-than-human city


The ‘more-than-human’ city

Disturbing the entrenchment

Two narratives of contest

Emerging entanglements


12. The residential red zone: the city’s field of dreams?


Urban futures and the 21st century city

Regeneration planning

Experiments in governance

Christchurch futures




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Paul Cloke was Emeritus Professor of Human Geography at the University of Exeter. His research interests included rural geography, social change, ethical geographies, and the role of the third sector. Paul published a number of papers with New Zealand colleagues (including each of us) and co-authored a number of academic articles on aspects of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. During his career he produced over 40 books, including the co-authored Geographies of Postsecularity: Re-envisioning Politics, Subjectivity and Ethics (Routledge 2019). In 2022 Paul was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Victoria Medal for his contribution to rural geography and to the wider discipline.

David Conradson is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Canterbury. His current research examines the lived experience of disrupted environments, with a focus on processes that shape individual and collective well-being. He has been involved in a number of funded research projects examining post-disaster recovery in Christchurch, with publications from this work in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Earthquake Spectra, and a series of book chapters. Previously an editor of Social and Cultural Geography, he is currently the Managing Editor of the New Zealand Geographer.

Eric Pawson is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Canterbury. He retains an active interest in research, contributing to the Cambridge Handbook of Undergraduate Research (2022) and the fifth edition of Qualitative Research in Human Geography (2021). His thematic interests are in environmental history and environmental governance, with publications including The New Biological Economy (2018). He has been actively involved in a range of organisations and initiatives in post-earthquake Christchurch, particularly in and about the residential red zone. He co-founded the Ōtākaro Living Laboratory Trust and has chaired the Waitākairi Ecosanctuary Trust.

Harvey C. Perkins is Emeritus Professor of Planning at the University of Auckland and Past President of the New Zealand Geographical Society. He was formerly Professor of Human Geography at Lincoln University in Christchurch. His research focuses on urban and rural change, with a strong housing and built environment emphasis, and includes work on residential intensification, growth management and the relationships between house and home. He is involved in the New Zealand National Science Challenge Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko Ngā Wā Kāinga Hei Whakamāhorahora, where he co-leads a study of local regeneration initiatives in mid-sized regional settlements.