At one end, the Empire Hotel looks like it has broken its jaw. Its badly busted top teeth are fenced off by a mesh mouthguard, and wired shut with industrial strength beams. The Harbourlight Theatre’s domed shoulders are intact, but there’s a massive crack in one wall. It too, has been braced and supported.
The whole city’s a bit like an architectural hospital – it seems half the buildings are in traction, or in danger of dying in the night. Corner dairies and fish and chippers, lawnmower repair shops – like the one on Ferry Road near Aldwins Road – the older shops seem to be fast disappearing.
And if we don’t act soon, we’ll start forgetting they were there. One by one, brick and mortar places will become slippery memories – double meat and bacon burgers with half a scoop; TT2s and Toffee Milks; blue rinses and perms. These are not glamorous or flash places, they are the bread and butter, or the meat and three veg, of our suburbs and neighbourhoods.
Please donate your story, photograph or other earthquake memories to the library. At least that way there’ll be a chance to collect and curate – to capture not only photographs and documents, but memories and experiences of ordinary people and the lives they led during this landmark event.