With the pressures on the Christchurch City Council unabated (see, for example, Ruth Laugesen’s piece in the latest Listener), Bob Parker could be forgiven for enjoying the relative respite of his just completed eight-day trip to Israel and South Korea.
The mayor might also prefer the coverage in the international press to that at home.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz says Parker “radiates a remarkable sense of calm for a man whose city was virtually levelled following a two-year string of earthquakes and aftershocks”.
Parker, writes Mordechai Twersky, “seems undaunted by the Herculean task of rebuilding the New Zealand city”.
Attending the International Conference of Mayors in Tel Aviv, Parker got a little spiritual, and drew comparisons between New Zealand and Israel – as well as between Christchurch’s struggles and that of Israelis.
From the Haaretz report:
“They say Israel is an island,” says Parker. “My country is, quite literally, a series of islands – and an island is where a great sense of sustainability is required. We share this in common.”
In the rebuilding phase, New Zealand could learn from Israel’s emphasis on “entrepreneurship” and “innovation”, he says. These, says Haaretz, are thought to be “critical capabilities he says his burgeoning city will require if it is to sustain its vast economic recovery”.
Joined by his wife, Joanna Nicholls-Parker, Parker appeared awed following their visits to some of Jerusalem’s holy sites. Parker notes that he believes “in the god of my understanding based on a set of personal spiritual values.”
And the “traumas” of Christchurch were familiar to many Israelis, said Parker.
Israel has been locked in conflict with Palestinians and many other nations in the region since its establishment in 1948.
Haartez quotes him:
I wanted to come to Israel for a number of reasons, not the least of which is pure curiosity, but also because of the support that I’ve received from Israel along with a number of other countries. We have been through an event which is not dissimilar to the sorts of traumas that communities in Israel have experienced. Of course, the circumstances are different, but the results in many cases are the same.