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Monday, April 4, 2011

Christchurch restaurant razed without telling owner

Christchurch restaurant razed without telling owner

Last updated 05:00 05/04/2011
Christchurch restaurateur Hayato Sakaguchi thought his home and business would survive when he abandoned them on February 22.

He was wrong, but nobody told him.

Sakaguchi owned the Billiken Japanese restaurant on Colombo St. He lived with his wife, Nana, in an apartment above the restaurant.

He was dismayed when he saw a photo in The Press last month that showed the building's facade ripped off and its contents scattered on the ground.

"They pulled down everything. They pulled out our staircase. It's gone," he said.

Sakaguchi was in the building when the earthquake struck.

He said the awning and one second-storey window were the only casualties.

He had not been allowed access to the building and only had time to grab a few essential items as he left.

That included a substantial amount of money stored in his freezer, which he sneaked back in to retrieve.

The freezer now sat open on the footpath.

Sakaguchi said he should have been notified of any demolition work.

"They don't understand. I am a business owner, but I also live there," he said.

"I think they should at least tell people."

He wanted to retrieve family photos, business documents and keepsakes from Japan. He had no insurance and was desperate to save whatever he could.

Sakaguchi and his wife emigrated to New Zealand in 1996 after surviving the Kobe earthquake the year before.

The couple welcomed a baby boy, Kai, on March 28.

Sakaguchi had registered with the Recover Canterbury website to be allowed back into the building, but was told yesterday he would be among the last to be granted access.

"They [the Government] don't care about small businesses like me."

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