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Membership of the CRG

Tom McBrearty

Tom has had over 45 years of business experience, working both Nationally and Internationally as a Manager, Director, Board Chair CEO, and as business owner. The Christchurch earthquake reminded Tom that he has a passion for the city which has given him so much. Tom wanted to give back to his community and became a founding member of the Canterbury Community Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN) and has since been intricately involved in both the wider Christchurch and his own local earthquake recovery efforts. In recent years as well as being a Director of McBrearty Ballantyne, working to improve business practise and ethics, Tom has spent time working in both the business community and his city community supporting and advocating for businesses, individuals and families where at times they believed the challenges had become just too hard.

Ali Jones

Ali has worked and lived in Christchurch for all her adult life. Her background is in television and radio, firstly as a floor manager at TVNZ in the 1980’s and then presenting in front of the camera. Following more than five years as a breakfast host and newsreader in radio at C93FM, Ali married and headed overseas for the obligatory OE. Returning to New Zealand in 1998, Ali started her career in Public Relations, with dalliances into broadcasting. Ali now has her own PR Company called RedPR, located in the Christchurch CBD, which works with several clients from the health, education, performance and construction sectors.

Ali, together with Reverend Mike Coleman, successfully lobbied the Christchurch City Council for funding to establish an advocacy support organisation for Canterbury earthquake claimants - the Canterbury Insurance Assistance Service. There was a need for an independent organisation to assist claimants who were struggling to resolve or even progress their claims and CIAS was very successful in assisting many Cantabrians. In 2013, Ali successfully stood for the Christchurch City Council, primarily because of her concerns around post-earthquake issues including insurance and EQC claims / resolution. She decided not to run for council in 2016 after her own earthquake claim was clearly requiring more time than being a city councillor allowed, and instead stood for the Papanui Innes Community Board where she is currently the chair. Ali was also a board member on the National Council of Women for a year but had to step down after once again issues with an earthquake claim returned. Following her family’s first home claim being resolved after more than four years, Ali and her husband then bought an EQC repaired home which has now been classified a “failed EQC repair” and is part of the “on sold” category of claims. That issue is part of a court case expected to be heard in August this year. Ali is also a member of the Community Reference Group working with Dame Silvia Cartwright on the Public Inquiry into EQC and a member of the Homeowners Advisory Group working with the GCCRS (Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service) to improve the provision of service to claimants.

Mel Bourke

Mel has worked successfully in change management roles for more than 20 years, starting in the finance sector, when banking went through significant change, later supporting organisations through large scale technology and culture change. Having one of the first homes repaired post the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, and to discover it was littered with repair failings, Mel was thankful for meeting other homeowners who could give her sound advice on claim entitlements, leading to a rightful outcome. This led to her working with an array of people in the community, where she used her business and change skills, initiating many of the claimant information events run in Canterbury designed to help individuals access quality homeowner centric information, all in a voluntary capacity. Mel is a member of the EQCfix Steering Committee and wants to see a national post disaster reinstatement plan coupled with on time learning tools developed based on the lessons learned from people who lived the experience – the homeowner and community – providing resources to better ensure that whānau and organisations are treated equitably now and in the future. Mel is hopeful, that the CRG will be ‘heard, listened to and acted on’ and that it, the CRG, can be a proactive part of the desperately needed change within the EQC.

David Townshend

With an engineering background in the aeronautical industry spanning 19 years, David has spent the last five years managing multiple insurance claims through the EQC and insurers processes.

Frustrated with some of the initial failures of his insurers to be able to provide adequate settlements or explain their settlement process in rational, simple terms, David proposed a collaborative approach to claims settlement with his insurers. The collaborative approach stemmed from the observation that both the EQC Act and the private insurance policy is an agreement between the parties and the natural starting point for claims settlement. Rather than one party engaging their own experts in isolation of the other party (to sometimes unknown instructions or terms of reference), David proposed that both parties agree the terms of engagement for the independent experts, both parties agree on which experts to use, with one of the parties engaging those experts (the one proposing to perform the reinstatement). This process has allowed his claims to be settled in an efficient manner, with no great chance of litigation or disagreements late in the settlement due to nature of the agreements made along the way.

Whilst David spends much of his spare time providing insurance advice of a general nature to help as many others in the community as he can, some of his spare time running his own business, by far most of his time is taken up caring for a rapidly growing young family with all the multitude of tasks, worries and ups and downs that go with single parenting, or any parenting for that matter.  

David’s hope is the next time disaster strikes, as we all know it will, that we will be much more prepared and capable as a country to cope, to allow the population to recover in a much shorter time frame than has happened in Canterbury.  To do this, it is essential we take a proper look at what has happened, understand which parts have worked well, which parts have not worked so well, to ensure that we learn from our mistakes.  It is essential that those affected by the disaster and the ensuing response are adequately consulted, in a collaborative manner to achieve this outcome.  As a community we have the knowledge on what has gone wrong and what can be done better, we just need the courage to go looking for it.

Dean Lester

Dean first began working in the insurance industry in 1986. Since, he has worked in a variety of insurance positions and to a senior level in the Christchurch and Canterbury insurance industry. Dean’s experience has resulted in an extensive insurance acumen and the ability to read and interpret wordings, including EQC Act, to a highly technical standard. With three decades of experience in the NZ insurance market, Dean understands the varying wants and needs of insurers, reinsurers and the insured customer. Dean has also spent time in senior insurance underwriting and sales roles with NZI/ IAG. The later part of his insurance career included work for a range of brokers. As a result, Dean can break down and analyse Insurance matters to identify the “stepping stones” that must be taken for the policy to deliver on its promise. Since 4/9 and 22/2, Dean has immersed and committed himself to understanding all aspects of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery. This includes a commitment to grow his knowledge by actively interacting in the Christchurch insurance market with all Insurers and EQC. Since 4/9, Dean has helped over 1 000 Insured Cantabs progress their earthquake claim. Dean has progressed claims via Facebook, Text, email and actively supporting Cantabs when they meet with EQC, insurers, assessors, PMO’s, builders, etc. Dean was the 2012 CCC Christchurch Earthquake Award recipient for community service through pro-bono insurance advocacy. In 2015, Dean received a Certificate of Achievement having been nominated for Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year in recognition of Insurance work post-earthquakes in the Canterbury Community. Dean is a born, bred and proud Cantab who is emotionally driven to support Cantabs at this time. He is not “scared” to ask questions and does so with deep knowledge and a strong conviction.

Linda Ngata

Since 1993 Linda has been overseeing the operations of Te Rūnanga o Ngā Maata Waka, drawing on her financial, operational and general management skills to successfully lead out initiatives, projects and programmes in the education and training, social services, health, housing, economic development, Maori, community development and building financial capability sectors. She was a founding member of the Earthquake Support Coordination Service and was instrumental in setting up the Recovery Assistance Centre based at Nga Hau E Wha National Marae.  In an ever-changing disaster recovery environment, her knowledge, expertise and understanding of the issues, disputes and problems home owners have experienced in progressing their insurance claims has been critical to the on-going development of services that support the wellbeing of vulnerable communities. 

Jo Petrie

Jo spent 10 years in advertising working as an art director on Australian and international brands before returning to New Zealand in 2006 to raise a young family. Since returning to Christchurch she has predominantly worked within the Māori sector in a variety of capacities. Having challenges with the repair of her own home, Jo became fascinated by the system and challenges that others were facing, particularly other Māori whānau.  Jo has strong project management and design skills, is empathic and personable. Jo believes her knowledge and skills will add value to her role on the CRG. She is prepared to speak out and be a voice when she believes something is not right and needs to be changed. Last year Jo completed an oral history project recording the experiences and aspirations of a group of Māori regarding their EQC and private insurer experiences pertaining to the repair of their whānau homes. This has led to a wider research project of the same kaupapa.

Phillipa Moore

Phillipa has worked in both public, commercial and private organisations including the health and building sectors. Previously the director of a structural steel manufacturing company, she understands some of the drivers behind the building sectors approach to the EQC repairs. Phillipa has experienced multiple EQC claims. The first repair was handled correctly, so she knows EQC have the ability & potential to do well, however subsequent claims have been difficult and full of errors. Phillipa wants to see the standard for all repairs to be full, fair and equally accessible to everyone, regardless of a person’s emotional or financial ability to hire expensive experts, to prove a claim or negotiate/argue with EQC. She wants to see an improvement in systems and transparency. Phillipa firmly believes change for both outstanding claimants and any future claimants is needed, if, EQC are to reduce distress and enable people to put the disaster event behind them as quickly and efficiently as possible, enabling them to move on with their lives.  As a Christchurch based claimant, Phillipa has helped and supported others with claims.  She also has a special interest in emergency preparedness.

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