Writings on Earthquakes (Index)

This index, first compiled in January 2013 and subsequently updated, is a list of article on the website which have a substantial content about earthquakes and other natural calamities. They were not a focus until the Canterbury Earthquakes, which I began writing about as “Listener” columns to illustrate general issues. However, they are acquiring a life and interest of their own; hence this index.

They grouped together as follows:

  • History and Personal;
  • Macroeconomic Implications;
  • Sharing the Costs;
  • The EQC and Related Issues.

Within each group the order is usually in that which they were written.

History and Personal

The 1855 Wairarapa Earthquake

This is an extract from the history I am writing: Not in Narrow Seas: A History of New Zealand from an Economic Perspective)


I am also working on the 1931 Hawkes Bay Earthquake as a part of the history.

“The Big Wave” Listener: 7 November, 2009.

Tsunamis are also a part of our history. The 2009 Samoan one enabled me to write about some of this work in


For Paul

Among the losses from the Christchurch after Shock of February 2011, was a friend from school days. Shortly after I attended a memorial service for him.


The Canterbury Public Library and Me

(Christchurch City Libraries’ Digital Library, 24th March 2011; an extract was published in Christchurch Heritage: A Celebration of Buildings and Streetscapes by Bruce Ansley)

I also lost a part of my heritage. (When later I visited Christchurch, I was reasonably well prepared for the devastation. However, I shed a tear when the bus went past the vacant section which was once my library.)


The Role of the Environment In History

In 2012 I twice prepared a presentation in which earthquakes were a central part about the environment in history.



Macroeconomic Implications

The Canterbury Earthquake and the South Canterbury Meltdown

Shortly after the primary shock I was asked to prepare a note on the macroeconomic impact. I wrote this on 14th September 2010. We had no idea of the damage from the shocks to come.


“Quakenomics” (Listener: 19 March, 2011)

My initial Listener foray after the February Christchurch shock was to point out the stupidity of some the commentary, and to set out how the National Accounts constructed GDP. The impatience has had to be repeated.


“Infrastructure Problems in New Zealand” (Listener: 17 September, 2011)

I had always wanted to write a column on the importance of sewerage and other prosaic bits of the infrastructure.


“The Future of the South Island” (Listener: 18 February, 2012)

Again using the Christchurch experience to illustrate some central principles of the role of regional nodes in economic growth.


Sharing the Costs

I have taken quite a different view from the government as to how the public costs of the Canterbury earthquakes should be funded and ultimately shared. I had not realised just how frequently I returned to this issue until I set out this section. First, four columns which develop the argument:

“Consensus Rebuilding” (Listener: April 2, 2011)


“Jolt Cost Must Be Shared” (Sunday Star Times: 3 April, 2011)


“Christchurch Earthquake Tax” (Listener: 9 May, 2011)


“A Canterbury Earthquake Levy Would Be Prudent” (Listener: 3 March 2012)


“Blast from the Future” (Listener: 21 July, 2012)

The government chose to ignore this approach, so all that was left was to satirise them. (I could not have written this, had I not spent a bit of time studying volcanoes as a part of the history I am writing; even so, I consulted.)


The EQC and Related Issues

“Seismic Shift” (Listener: 15 November, 2012)

I had this story drawn to my attention; thankyou to the informant. It has set me down a path thinking not just about earthquake insurance, but the wider issue of government responsibilities in circumstances where there are risk (hinted in the last sentence). I have already written one yet-to-be-published article down this path; I expect there will be more.