Tag Archives: earthquake

Tears for Christchurch

Earthquake ravaged

We spent last weekend in Christchurch, the city that suffered irreparable damage and huge loss of life on the 22nd of February 2011.

Although I spent a week down there for work in October last year, I never ventured into the city. We listened to the stories and imagined the devastation.

This time we did wander round the inner streets looking over the cordons at the ruins of what had once been a beautiful city. A magnificent Cathedral as its centrepiece, and lovely old buildings gracing the wide streets. No longer.

“There’s the Crowne Plaza,” my partner said, the Crowne Plaza having once been a grand and imposing hotel.

“Where?” I responded.

“There, right in front of you.”

I looked at the pile of rubble, it didn’t seem significant enough to have been such a massive hotel. A hotel in which I had sat many times enjoying a cappucino in the Piano Bar with my beloved friends Doreen and David. Every time they walked into their favourite coffee spot, the pianist would see them from the corner of his eye, stop whatever it was he was playing and play their song – Somewhere my love  from Dr Zhivago …

I’d read some time ago, in an article by Jane Bowron, that a friend of hers said the Crowne Plaza resembled the ruins in Sarajevo. I guess he wasn’t far wrong.

The first of my tears started to flow. They continued as I saw what remained of the Cathedral, and then High Street and Cashel Street. Gone were the city scapes of well-known buildings – replaced by cranes, bent iron sculptures, empty window frames and fluttering building paper.

Amidst the devastation are bright spots of colour …

Pop-up shops … colour, energy and optimism

The first photo was taken at one end Cashel Street – a street with the exit blocked by wire fencing and warnings.

This photo was taken on the same stretch of road – where optimism reigns. Brightly coloured containers line both sides, housing bustling boutique shops. The footpath features floral sculptures – yes, the deer above is fake – and big tubs are filled flowers and native greenery.

We had a cup of tea in Ballantynes. Ballantynes is a department store which suffered the worst fire in New Zealand’s history in 1947; 41 lives were lost. Ballantynes suffered again last year – thankfully it escaped serious damage and is in the process of renovating. It is already a beautiful store … no doubt it will be more so when renovations are complete.

A bright future…

It was hard looking at the ruins of a city. I felt like a voyeur … looking on from the comfort of my warm and dry home in Wellington. I felt like I shouldn’t be taking photos – that’s why I didn’t even take one of the Cathedral. It felt like I was claiming their loss as mine. But the quake in Christchurch hasn’t changed my life…only made me more aware how everything can change in the batting of an eyelid…

Then on Tuesday night we had a quake. Just as I was about to climb into bed the house started shaking. I watched 110-year old door frames as they rocked from side to side. The quake lasted seven seconds, it seemed longer. My heart raced and continued to throughout the night. No damage, just a few fallen photo frames.

The batting of an eyelid …

Weekly photo challenge: Worn, the story

No sign of volcanic ash here ...

Is there a way to photograph patience?

Mine is wearing a little thin today … I was scheduled to visit Melbourne (Australia) with my daughter. Melbourne is approximately a four hour flight from New Zealand. In order to make the trip together I must first fly from Wellington to Auckland.

Sadly, volcanic ash from Chile is playing havoc with our plans.

Today’s flight from Auckland to Melbourne has been cancelled. In order to rebook I’ve had to wait in one of those interminable phone queues … you know, the ones that play muzac interspersed with cheerful voices from staff telling you how valued your business is, and other sorts of irrelevant tit-bits.

I sat there on my bed prepared for the long haul, tray on my lap with all-bran, kiwifruit, cellphone and documentation. Too cold to be anywhere else at that hour of the morning. Rebooking, when my call was finally answered, was simple. Now, I just have to hope that the ash cloud has lifted by tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I’ll have to go through the whole procedure again!

But wait there’s more …this isn’t the whole story folks …

I arrived early (thank goodness) at Wellington airport for my domestic flight to Auckland. While scanning my e-ticket a lovely young man came up to assist – no I’m not that doddery or incompetent I thought – and pointed out that the flight I’d booked was Auckland to Wellington, and visa versa for the return trip. Showing his pearly white teeth in a broad grin, he told me that rebooking was going to be expensive.

GRRRRR!!! Maybe I’m not as competent as I thought.

So, I had to wait in queue number two, another long one because everyone’s flights have been affected. $$$$$$ later I walked away with the last available seat to Auckland today.

I’m feeling quite worn …

I’ve since heard that there’s been another earthquake in Japan. When considered with those that having been plaguing Christchurch recently and the spewing volcano in Chile, I really can’t complain.

Whatever happens this weekend, happens …

Heartfelt message

Christchurch Press building was damaged beyond repair in Tuesday’s earthquake.

In the wake the quake Press reporter Vicki Anderson, who was at work at the time of the quake, wrote these words:

(Although the message is addressed to New Zealanders, it applies to everyone)

“New Zealand, we need you. Aside from your practical support, which we thank you for, we need you to understand how draining and anxiety-causing these aftershocks are. We need you to give us your strength, kindness and support to help is get through this disaster.

Wherever you live, whatever you do, hold your loved ones close, tell the people you care about what they mean to you, and please, no matter where you are in New Zealand, pack your survival kit – I used to watch those ads and think they didn’t apply to me.

Life is fragile. I stood on the edge of the abyss and peered into the darkness today. People of New Zealand, let your love be our light.”