Wednesday 22 February 2012


It's been a year. A whole year since I was standing in the middle of the living room, in the middle of the day, hands over my mouth, staring in horrified disbelief at the television. I don't remember how I heard the news - perhaps it was Scott, the house-painter who was listening to his radio as he worked, who told me. Perhaps it was a text or an email. It doesn't matter.

What does matter is that the whole country was doing the same thing as they heard, turning to the radio and television, anxious for every bit of news from Christchurch, painful as the words and images were: our second city, shaken to bits, buildings collapsed, people crushed inside, on a bus, on footpaths, 185 of them dead or dying, others trapped by arms and legs and fingers they were to lose. Everything, as those moments passed, changing forever.

And now it's been a year. The central city's still cordoned off, hundreds of buildings demolished, whole blocks bare and empty, swirling with dust. The eastern suburbs, where I grew up, are wastelands of ruptured streets and broken houses, once-neat gardens and grass verges tall with weeds and brown grass, silent and empty except for some determined souls hanging on grimly through 10,000 aftershocks.

Life is still going on in Canterbury: there's a wonderful spirit of never say die, of new opportunities, of lateral thinking, of community, of a resilience I'd like to think I would show too, but couldn't guarantee. I'm proud of Christchurch people, and today at 12.51pm I'll be standing with them again, remembering what we've all lost.

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