Wellington Mayor Justin Lester in a mild panic about government departments leaving town

Justin Lester was on Q+A yesterday, showing mild panic:

Wellington mayor Justin Lester says Wellington is “well-placed” to manage further earthquakes, and he doesn?t back the idea of moving government functions to other parts of New Zealand.

Speaking to Q+A?s Jessica Mutch, Mr Lester said he thought that was a “knee-jerk reaction.”

“Look, let?s be realistic, I mean, Auckland sits on volcanoes; Christchurch, no one expected to have an earthquake down there, and that was an absolute tragedy; various different parts of the country face natural disaster events. So this is an occurrence in New Zealand, as it is in any other city in any other country in the world.

We need to live up to the risk. We need to manage the risk, and I think Wellington?s well placed.” ?

Mr Lester defended sending out a message saying Wellington was “open for business” just 24 hours after in the quake, in which several inner-city buildings sustained serious damage.

But he said he was surprised at how the more modern buildings performed during the quake, and said questions would need to be asked about the ground conditions beneath them.

Justin Lester should get some good scientific advice, because my sources tell me that the quakes are moving north, this one was in the South Island but it is only a matter of time before there is a big one closer to Wellington.

He should also check history.

That land he is dead keen on extending as a runway for Wellington airport used to be underwater…as did the Basin Reserve. Guess what raised then up out of the ocean?

In the period before lasting European habitation, mentions of earthquakes and other natural calamities were occasional and fleeting, but about 1460AD a mighty earthquake, known to Maori as Haowhenua – the land swallower or destroyer – lifted from beneath the sea the piece of Wellington land now known as Miramar Peninsula.

The Basin Reserve history is recent:

The area that is now Basin Reserve was originally a lake (known as the Basin Lake), and there were plans to connect it to the sea by a canal to make it an alternative inner city harbour, with major warehouses and factories alongside it. However, the massive 1855 Wairarapa earthquake uplifted the area nearly 1.8 m and turned the lake into a swamp.

There used to be two harbour entrances to Wellington:

M?ori witnessed major changes in the landscape of the Wellington region. In the early 1900s the ethnologist Elsdon Best was told that Wellington?s harbour, Port Nicholson, originally had two entrances. One was the current entrance at Pencarrow, and the other was through the low sandy area now occupied by the suburb of Rongotai and Wellington?s airport. The nearby suburb of Miramar was then an island ? Motukairangi.

So, Justin Lester is actually being a dangerous fool.