Christchurch Earthquake - 4 years on

The old, earthquake damaged, and the new
It's four years almost exactly since I came to Christchurch to take part in the Literature Festival and found myself in the middle of a 7.2 earthquake - experiencing weeks of aftershocks and witnessing the fracturing of a city.  A few months later, a particularly shallow magnitude 6.3 brought down many of the remaining buildings - already weakened by the earthquake swarm - and killed a significant number of people. The city centre was destroyed.

One of my 2010 photos
On my last visit, in February 2013, the city centre was a demolition site - cordoned off from the public - a landscape of skewed and damaged buildings waiting to be turned to rubble. It seemed impossible that the city could ever be reconstructed. There were even rumours that the city centre would be re-located to safer ground.  So, on this visit,  I was curious to see what had happened since then.

Christchurch City Centre 2014
Christchurch is a building site now - a developers' paradise.  There are cranes everywhere, scaffolding and piling on cleared lots.

Arts Centre
One thing that troubles me, is the length of time it seems to be taking to restore Heritage buildings. The arts centre is still shrouded in scaffolding, though work does seem to be going on there.

The Cathedral untouched - one end propped up, but no sign of restoration at all.

It's predicted that it will take the New Zealand economy almost 100 years to recover from a natural disaster of this magnitude, which I can believe, since most economies are struggling from the global economic slow-down anyway. But New Zealand's second city does seem to rising like a Phoenix out of the rubble.  This is the first time I've managed to get into Christchurch since I arrived four weeks ago.  It will be interesting to see what it looks like next time I come here.


  1. In June 2013 on a brief stay in Wellington, I met a lady who was beyond upset at the lack of progress on the rescue and rebuilding of her house. It had been badly damaged by the earthquake and 3 years on she was still in limbo waiting for action by the city powers. Next day I visited Te Papa museum and saw the excellent & graphic displays explaining earthquakes and their likelihood in New Zealand, (highly recommended). However part of the exhibition was a life size wooden home that had a timed recreation of the experience of an earthquake, wobbles and sound effects part of it. I was so affected by the Christchurch lady's story that I did not want to go through this, the rest of the display was enough. I was left hoping her situation was resolved and she regained her home.

    1. Carol - the person you met was not alone. There are still people who are homeless, or living in wrecked accommodation, and others waiting for their homes to be repaired. Scandalous really. The suicide rate has gone up dramatically and a lot of people are still on anti-depressants. It's very sad.

  2. Awful and in a developed country! I hadn't realised so many were still at this stage, sad indeed. Much food for thought here. Thank you,


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