Saturday 1 October 2011

Learning from history

The wrangling over the future of Christchurch continues, with still no clear idea of how to proceed, plus further complications caused by the real possibility that there will be no insurance available for new buildings - bit of a set-back for putative developers, natch. There hasn't been a decent shake there for a few days, but no-one's jumping to any conclusions: everyone's learnt the hard way that the next earthquake is usually not far away.

After the February quake that wrecked the city, there was some talk about Napier, which was flattened in 1931 yet rebuilt, Art Deco style, just two years later. Nobody mentioned aftershocks there, and I assumed they were 'lucky' to have just the one cataclysm, after which they could set about putting things right again. At the Wairoa Museum though (the town is 100km from Napier) in a display of the local paper's front pages, there was one from September 1932, reporting a quake that was more intense there (and in Gisborne), and more destructive, than the February '31 one (kind of a coincidence, that the shakes were in September and February, same as in ChCh). So rebuilding was more an act of faith than I was thinking.

I was rather taken with the report about the first quake, which said that people found the immediate aftershocks frightening: "...everyone being in a terrible state of nervousness but bearing up wonderfully well. In fact, everyone showed the spirit of true Britishers." So that was all right, then.

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