Erin Brockovich is in Christchurch to talk to earthquake insurance claimants on her first visit to New Zealand.
"I’ve wanted to come visit for a very, very long time – not necessarily under these circumstances," she told 1 NEWS at a family's damaged Port Hills house this morning.
The visit was planned through Shine Lawyers to meet with clients of the law firm who are still going through the insurance claim process for housing repairs after the Canterbury earthquakes struck more than six years ago.
"I decided to come over and spend a couple of days and see for myself what was happening," Ms Brockovich said.
Ms Brockovich has done consulting work for the firm's Australian group for the past decade.
She hopes the visit will build awareness for New Zealanders around the country to learn about, "what is or isn’t going on out here six years after that major quake".
The legal clerk, who lives in Los Angeles, said she is surprised by the situation in Christchurch, comparing it to the rebuild of her city after significant earthquakes.
"I’ve never seen a situation, and we’ve lived through big earthquakes, six years later… so much has still not been taken care of."
LIKE A WAR ZONE
Ms Brockovich described Cathedral Square in central Christchurch, where she is staying at a hotel, as almost looking like a war zone.
"That’s really not an exaggeration,” she said.
Yesterday, Ms Brockovich travelled throughout the Canterbury region, from Arthur's Pass in the Selwyn district to the seaside suburb of Sumner, surveying damage to claimants' homes.
Seeing the state of damaged properties has saddened and frustrated her, she said.
"It's very difficult and it's unfair in situations like this when we’ve already been through a trauma to expect them to hold that ground and they [insurance companies] almost wait to beat them down, till they’re defeated and they’ll take five cents on the dollar."
The environmental activist became a household name after her involvement in a class action lawsuit against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California.
The case was made into blockbuster movie Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts.