Queenstown can learn from Christchurch

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Queenstown’s own response to an emergency stands to benefit following local involvement in Christchurch’s devastating earthquake. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s emergency management boss Brenden Winder is among a raft of police, structural engineers, planners, building inspectors, Salvation Army and other personnel who have headed up to the quake-ravaged city to help. 

Winder led a team of intelligence-gathering workers from around the country to produce a “national situation” report in the first few days following the February 22 disaster. 

He helped collect information on the status of health, local business, welfare, building inspectors and the Defence Force – and says he’s learnt “hundreds of things” for dealing with future civil defence situations in Queenstown. 

“I’ve learnt tricks of the trade, things we can change in five minutes and there’s some fundamental stuff we need to do too,” Winder says. 

“I’ll eventually get the chance to sit down and prioritise it and pluck out the stuff that is meaningful locally. 

“There’re many, many things – not just in my industry but also in other industries as well. People’s houses, businesses, within their families, their cultural groups, within community groups – there’s aspects of this event that will have knock-on effects right across the whole of New Zealand society.” 

Winder spent seven days in Christchurch working round the clock before returning home late last week. He goes back up for another stint today. 

“It’s bloody grim actually,” he says. 

“There’re a lot of people who have suffered and you just want to get up there and do all you can to ease it a little bit. The intensity of what you’re doing sort of pales in significance compared to what some other people are going through, so you just get on with it.”