Clock tower on Madras Street

Sometimes it seems a long, long time ago. Other times you are right there in it.
My nephew was born the day before, now he is a sturdy 3-year-old. My girl had her 2nd birthday a couple of days before, and she is starting school. Those I love mark the time for me.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with the anniversary. Flowers in cones, flowers in the river.

Time to be kind as gap widens is the message from the Canterbury District Health Board. The All Right campaign reinforces the message that whatever you feel is ok.

The Press has been doing a brilliant job publishing reflections and perspectives. Hats off to them. Standouts are:

Victoria Street clocktower
So stop the clocks, and feel what you feel. Our special love goes out to the people we lost, and those who suffer and grieve.  We miss those who have left town, and welcome those who have arrived.
Thanks to workers busy rebuilding, and people busy revitalising their communities. Arohanui Ōtautahi.

Today is International Volunteer Day, which is an annual event dedicated to celebrating and recognising all types of volunteers around the world.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to experience new challenges, develop new skills and get involved in the community. Our web page provides all sorts of information about volunteering in and around Christchurch.

Volunteering in Canterbury came into the spotlight after the earthquakes when organisations such as the Student Volunteer Army, the Farmy Army and many others were involved in the massive clean-up effort. These contributions really showed how much can be achieved when people come together with a common purpose to benefit the community.

The volunteering spirit has endured post-quakes with initiatives like Greening the Rubble and Gap Filler, amongst others, actively using volunteers in the quest to fill empty sites before permanent redevelopment.

My own experiences of volunteering helped me to discover if the career path I wanted to go down was right for me. I wanted to get into the museum sector and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help out at my local museum. I was able to find out about this type of job in a very hands on way and meet people who could tell me more. This experience initially led to a part time job and helped me get onto a Museum Studies course.

So, whether you have a little time or a lot of time have think about volunteering as you never know where it will lead you – and if you know a volunteer say a big thank you to them today.

This is what I saw shortly after 4.35am, after the 7.1 earthquake on 4 September 2010. Victoria Street, Christchurch.

The Central Library in Gloucester Street looked like this.
Central Library : after the quake

And while the Central Library was closed, people made the most of the free wifi.

WiFi users outside the Central Library

It was three years ago today, not long in the scheme of the things.
But doesn’t 3 September 2010 and before seem a world away.

More  photos and stories:

Our blog posts

On the website

It is two years today since the devastating 22 February 2011 earthquake. One way many people cope is by recounting experiences. Here are some ways you can do that:

CoverYou can explore our resources:


A tribute in front of the rebuild of Edgeware Super Value, 22 February 2012.

Something about dust
and ashes and how things
fall …

The Suitcase by Fiona Farrell, in The Broken Book

We remember with aroha those lost in the 22 February 2011 earthquake.
Arohanui to all who loved you.

When I bought my house in Addington, the real estate guru assured me it was an ‘up and coming suburb’. Of course, they all say such things, and it wasn’t the main reason for buying my house, but who would know it would take the earthquakes to push it into the status of  “the funkiest and most exciting post-earthquake neighbourhood”, according to the latest Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand.
Photo of the Star Hotel Addington

The review goes on to say,

“Previously sleepy Addington is now being transformed with new cafes, restaurants, theatres and live-music venues.”

I have noticed quite radical changes, with old buildings torn down (many I admit I was not sad to see go), and many new cafes and restaurants bars opened that are the places to be seen, but the older less salubrious parts still remain. Huge new office spaces are being built and the Court Theatre  is doing very well in its new digs by the railway line. The suburb though is also developing a down side with increased drunkeness, and need for police presence on weekend evenings.

Photo of men at the A&P showMy Grandad worked at the Addington railway yards, fitting out the coaches for people to relax in on their journeys. I used to so love going to the Industries Fair they held as part of the A&P Show. This was held, weirdly, exactly on the spot my house is now. I feel as if I have come full circle in more than one way as my parents’ first flat after they married was a few blocks from where I live too.

The Addington Jail, was built 1874, in the gothic revival style so favoured in our city under the guidance of Benjamin W Mountfort. It has survived recent events, partly due to its 60cm solid concrete walls. It previously served as home to sentenced and remand prisoners, a women’s prison and  a military camp. Closed in 1999, it is now run  as a rather unique backpackers. New post quakes uses have been found for the former Woods Brothers flour mill in Wise Street. The Christchurch City Council has approved funding for restoration work, and the plan is to turn the wonderful brick building into an entertainment and social hub, further enhancing the suburbs growing reputation.

So I think I’ll stay for a while, and see what becomes of my hood. What changes are happening in your neighbourhood? Good, bad or sad?

It was before dawn on Saturday morning. It rained books on our bed, and chimney on the ground. We stood in the doorway, as the house rattled .

And when it stopped, we could still hear the water tanker next door slosh, slosh.

Round the corner, this – the facades of shops, and bits of church, fallen in the street.

4 September 2010.

Like many folk in Christchurch, I tend to stay in my neighbourhood these days, taking solace from the small signs of recovery I see – a wall fixed here, a pile of rubble cleared away, the tradesman’s van outside number 35A that indicates repairs are taking place inside. When I walked past the battered Arts Centre today, earthquake memories came flooding back. The question is what to do about these memories.

Freelance journalist Amanda Cropp has some suggestions. Her workshop ‘Capturing Quake Stories’ gave attendees some techniques for getting these memories down on paper. She believes it is important to do this for two main reasons. Firstly, the quakes are important historial event for our city and if you have younger children they may not remember much about them. Recording earthquake stories will help children understand what they’ve been through. Secondly, it informs people who haven’t lived with Old Bucky since September 2012 what it’s been like for us. Our stories are often not the stuff of headlines. They are the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.

After the quake, Amanda Cropp’s editor at The Australian Women’s Weekly asked her to keep a diary. Some of the stories in it were published in the magazine and received positive feedback from readers who appreciated hearing the human side of the event. Amanda kept writing and went on to publish Shaken, Not Stirred: Family Survival in a Quake Zone.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t kept your own diary. The author gave us some exercises to start capturing our stories now. She suggested writing about what we ate for dinner on the evening of 22 February and use our senses to record our experience. We brainstormed about what it was like to lose electricity. We wrote about one precious thing that was lost or saved in the quakes. We described a place that had been important to us that had changed. People read their paragraphs, often with shaky voices, but as we kept writing the stories became fluent and fascinating.

It was very apparent that we all experienced the quakes differently and that each person’s story is valid. We’re living in history and our experiences are important.

Once you’ve written your quake stories, you can self-publish your work for your family and friends.

If you’d like to share your story, why not donate your earthquake story to Christchurch City Librarie. Use this form or add your material to the Canterbury Earthquake Kete..

South Library ExteriorIt’s hard to believe that South Library has been closed for three weeks now. It’s been such a pivotal part of life on the south side of town, it still seems strange not to be heading in through the glass doors, searching for books and ordering a coffee from the Red Cafe.

I love the South Library building. It’s funky, innovative, light, bright and welcoming. The building served as an inclusive place where everyone’s welcome. It’s been a source of reliable information, a safe haven in a time of catastrophe, a repository of wonderful books, and an inclusive public space where people come to talk, connect with others, share stories and feel part of the community.

And the future of South? The building has teams of engineers swarming all over it. While there has never been any likelihood of it falling down, the ground it sits on is near the river and needs checking thoroughly. It’s a case of wait and see.

If you’re at a loss to know where to go for your library books now, pop into Spreydon Library, the little library beside the entrance to Barrington Mall.  The librarians will make you welcome and you might find some books you haven’t come across before.  If you’d like to meet with friends or have a cup of coffee while you’re browsing, Upper Riccarton Library has a coffee shop. Central Library Tuam is the newest branch of the library and holds some of the heritage collection that have been retrieved from the damaged Central Library building, as does Central Library Peterborough.  The closest place to pay your rates is at the Riccarton Service Centre, 199 Riccarton Road.


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