We are history – How earthquakes have connected us with the past and future

Some of the destruction by earthquake at Cheviot, North Canterbury, 16 Nov. 1901

William Ellison Burke wrote a gossipy journal in the early days of Canterbury settlement. He has quite a bit in common with us:

An earthquake. My chums were asleep in a whare and I shook them up. The slab rafters were moving merrily. The shock was severe and probably the wet Swampy nature of the country, had something to do with it.

Jane Deans wrote in 1869:

It came as they usually do, without warning. A loud report like a cannon ball hitting the house, then a long rumbling noise like a long, heavy train passing over a wooden bridge, shaking violently all the time.

Her diaries and letters were mentioned in The Press article Quake sounds familiar, and her great-great-grandson Charles said:

It’s remarkable how emotive it is. It’s just so similar to what we are hearing time and time again now. We are living the same fear, worry and concern that she was back then … It is not just our generation that is going through this … The city has recovered before and it will again.

Since September 4 2010, we have learned about disasters, preparedness, geology and seismology. And loss. But we’ve also discovered that in sharing stories, a powerful link is made – one that cuts across time and place.

So think about writing your story – for now, but also for the future. We’d love you to share your stories and photos with us.

Other places to tell your story:

Want earthquake information? Ask Dr Jan

What can you say about a guy who stands on the land formerly occupied by his house (which had to be demolished following the September 2010 earthquake) and, using a paper report and his surviving pizza oven, explains how new houses can be safely built in Christchurch? Make some more explanatory YouTube videos please.

Well Dr Jan Kupec, chief geotechnical engineer with CERA  has done just that – so far he has three on YouTube. The other topics are liquefaction and sinkholes. Many of us will be familiar with both phenomenons.

Other organisations are getting smart and using YouTube too. Missed the International Speaker series ? – soon videos will be available here.

There is a wealth of information being supplied to help Cantabrians understand more about earthquakes and faultlines. Dr Mark Quigley of the University of Canterbury has been a popular voice in explaining the events.

The City Plan website also has a video tour of the central city which allows you to explore the changing landscape in detail.

See also: