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Hunger strike over quake claim prompts govt action

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 17/04/2018
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The minister for Greater Christchurch regeneration has asked for a third party to get involved in an earthquake claims dispute between Christchurch man Peter Glasson and Southern Response.

Today, Mr Glasson began a hunger strike in front of Southern Response's Christchurch headquarters after years of fighting with the government-owned insurer to have his policy honoured.

Sitting in a borrowed caravan outside the insurer's office Mr Glasson was hoping that someone from inside will come out, sit down and talk things through.

His family's 1920s home with rubble foundation was badly damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake and needs new foundations.

Stocked with multivitamins and electrolytes, Mr Glasson, hoped this drastic step would get everyone back around the negotiation table.

"We're at the end of our tether, what else can we do," he said.

"Southern Response refuses to speak to us...let's get around the table and resolve it."

In a written statement, Southern Response's chief executive, Anthony Honeybone said the organisation became aware of the issues with the property when they filed legal proceeding in 2016.

He said mediation was attempted, but it did not get anywhere.

"Southern Response has offered to actually undertake the work to repair the Glassons' house. We have however been unable to agree on the extent of damage and what repairs are required," he said in the statement.

Mr Honeybone said Southern Response was hoping to resolve Mr Glasson's problems through a trial last year.

He said the Glassons' filed extensive new evidence the day before the trial, and due to circumstances outside its control, the trial could not proceed.

But Peter Glasson had a different story.

"The judge adjourned it at the request of Southern Response," he said.

"They were late on submitting their largest piece of evidence, so therefore we had to be late submitting ours...we asked the court to give us more time but they said no."

"[Southern Response] made that an excuse for why the court case should be delayed."

In the Southern Response statement, Anthony Honeybone said the organisation wanted to meet with the Glassons again, however it would not do that until the Glassons allowed its experts onto their property to assess new evidence that was filed before that trial.

But Mr Glasson was not keen for more experts to visit his home, as Southern Response experts had made multiple visits.

"We are not actually happy with the 17 times that they have been and the court doesn't seem to realise the invasion of privacy that entails...one or twice or three times is fine, but 17 times?" he said.

Today, Mr Glasson called on Christchurch Regeneration minister, Megan Woods, to intervene.

Ms Woods said as the shareholding minister of Southern Response she could not directly intervene, but today said she asked Darren Wright, from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's residential advisory service, to meet with Peter to help find a solution.

"We are at a bit of a stalemate," she said.

"I've asked Darren to meet with Southern Response and Mr Glasson about this very specific issue of what can we do to allow that site visit to happen..it is my priority as Minister to work with Southern Response and with Mr Glasson to see what we can do to remove that roadblock."

Ms Woods said she hoped that meeting could take place in the next 24 hours.

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