New Zealand Woman Confronts PM on Official Apathy: Wins Her Case

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 14, 2014 4:23 PM EST

Victims of official callousness or bureaucratic red tape either suffer silently or give up. But Paulette Barr of Auckland was not ready to give up. She took her tale of injustice to none other than the country's Prime Minister John Key and poured out her agony she was enduring at this old age, with the battle for her insurance claims.

People stand on a street after evacuating a building following an earthquake in Mexico City April 18, 2014.

PM Approached

Stuff. Co reported that she made news last week when Barr approached John Key in tears while shopping at the Riccarton Mall. Barr's distress prompted EQC to fast-track her claim. In a few days, she received the documents detailing what EQC would pay for the four flats in the Hills Road where she lives.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) in New Zealand is vested with the responsibility to provide natural disaster insurance for residential property, disbursement of Natural Disaster Fund and funds for research on natural disasters.

Paltry Compensation

However, Barr was distraught at the paltry compensation offered to her by the insurance company. It was less than $100,000 (plus GST) for the damaged property in the earthquake.

After confronting the PM, a representative from Christchurch MP Nicky Wagner's office investigated the matter further and things moved quickly.

The 61-year-old feels relieved that she is going to settle it finally. As the case gets a closure, Barr's 3-year insurance battle for earthquake repairs for her Richmond home will be a story of inspiration for others.

The EQC advanced her claim and agreed to pay more. Barr is happy at the progress made and the response from EQC and insurance company.  Accordingly, the repairs or replacement of her home would happen soon.

Barr was undergoing a harrowing time from the stress of insurance limbo and endless cold nights because of her quake-ravaged home. Despite the official care she is getting now, Barr still believes that if she had not confronted the prime minister, her insurance claim will still be pending.

According to EQC, it is continually improving customer experiences and has appointed LSI Consulting to review its customer interactions. The review will focus on the customer enquiries under the Official Information Act and Privacy Act.

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(Photo: Reuters / Bernardo Montoya)
People stand on a street after evacuating a building following an earthquake in Mexico City April 18, 2014.
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