Hunger-striker hopes for meal of oysters
Peter Glasson says he is willing to die outside the offices of Southern Response if that is what it takes to be heard.
The Christchurch man is among hundreds of homeowners with earthquake-related claims that are still unresolved with the insurer, seven years on from the Canterbury earthquakes.
Since launching legal proceedings against Southern Response two years ago, Glasson has been spied on by the agency, sign-written an anti-insurance car in protest and has countless documents detailing his battle. Now he is starving himself.
‘‘I haven’t had breakfast and I haven’t had lunch so I’m [having headaches]. Apparently after about three days this feeling goes away.
‘‘I’ve read a bit about it on the internet and apparently it’s not a painful way to die . . . my lawyer has said he’s going to take over this business when I start deteriorating.’’
Glasson has not eaten since midnight on Monday, but is taking electrolyte sachets and multivitamins prescribed by his doctor, along with mugs of water. His wife, Anne, has joined his hunger strike in a self-contained camper outside Southern Response’s premises in Show Place, Addington.
He wanted to camp on site, but changed his plan to return home in the evenings when he found out he would not be complying with the council’s freedom camping bylaw. The vehicle could remain for a week if he was not living in it, he said.
The Glassons plan to continue until their claim is resolved, but will be happy to start by meeting with Southern Response chief executive Anthony Honeybone. Peter Glasson is not convinced a meeting will happen.
‘‘I don’t now because he’s probably been at work since 9 o’clock. It’s midday so I’m probably going to be here for a while, a long time,’’ he said.
Anne Glasson said if Honeybone did meet with the couple it ‘‘needs to be a discussion with meaning that will actually finalise this, not just platitudes’’. The couple wanted resolution not just for themselves, but the many others in a similar situation.
Peter Glasson said a court hearing to have the claim resolved, which was initially filed in May 2016, would be at least a year away. The trial was supposed to go ahead in November last year.
He said Southern Response had visited his property 16 times and wanted to arrange a 17th simply as ‘‘outrageous delaying tactics and cunning manipulation of the process’’.
‘‘Things like changing experts in order to get the answers they want and manipulating the court process to slow things down . . . are just two of the tactics they are using.
‘‘Southern Response is ruining our lives [and] affecting our health but we will not let them finish us off.’’
Honeybone said the delay was due to both new evidence being presented by the Glassons ‘‘the day before’’ the trial and a requirement to fit within a timetable set by the court.
‘‘Given the volume of this new material, and the introduction of new witnesses, Southern Response needs the opportunity to properly consider and respond to this evidence.
‘‘We are currently waiting for Mr Glasson to allow Southern Response’s experts access to the house to consider the new evidence he has presented.’’
He said Southern Response ‘‘remains sympathetic’’ to the Glassons’ situation and had offered to meet with them once they had what they needed from the additional property visit.
‘‘We understand how frustrating additional visits must be but new evidence was introduced and we need to make sure we understand how it affects settling the claim.
‘‘We would also be open to another mediation with the Glassons rather than waiting for a court date later this year.’’
If they can come to a resolution, the Glassons’ first meal will be fresh Bluff oysters.
Peter Glasson stands outside the Southern Response office yesterday in Christchurch. Glasson started his hunger strike to protest over his unresolved earthquake insurance claim. His home was badly damaged in the 2011 Christchurch quake, but he is still fighting with his government-owned insurer Southern Response to have his policy honoured.