Seven years ago Christchurch was hit by an earthquake that killed 185 people. It’s a sad anniversary, and sometimes it is hard to know how – or where – to commemorate it. For the last seven years, my way has been to walk and think and take some photos. This morning I visited the former CTV site on the corner of Cashel and Madras Street. Ōtākaro Limited has landscaped the site, and it opened to the public today.
Diagonally across the road, is the 185 empty chairs installation by Peter Majendie. This is an artwork that rends your heart. I’ve only be able to stand near it, and somehow felt the chairs were sacred. But today, Peter and some helpers were cleaning the rain and water off the chairs so I joined in and helped. It felt profound.
It is three years today since the devastating 22 February 2011 earthquake. The Civic Memorial Service takes place on the Archery Lawn, Botanic Gardens at noon today. “Three years on we remember the community’s kindness and resilience in the time since the earthquake and we are proud to call Christchurch our home.”
However you do your remembering today it is good to share. Perhaps you will be with the friends, family and neighbours who have helped you or whom you have helped since the quakes.
One way many people cope is by recounting experiences. Here are some ways you can do that:
A year and a bit ago I blogged “Having spent most of my Christchurch life living east of the Square and close to the Avon River, I’m pretty passionate about the delights of those riverside suburbs like Richmond, Avonside, Dallington and out to New Brighton. The river has always been a source of beauty, fun, exercise and general place defining for my family.” I was writing about a Spring Festival of activities along the river.
I’ll be going the Avon River which runs at the end of my street. I went there in 2012, in 2013 I went with workmates to the Avon near the Bridge of Remembrance. Both times it felt really nice. Rivers are soothing and interesting places. I’d encourage people to take a moment during the day to think about what has happened to our city and what the future might hold. And I’d say “take it to the river”.
Christchurch has its own memorial to John Lennon – a plaque surrounded by wild strawberries in Little Hagley Park. The mayor, Vicki Buck,dedicated the field 9 October 1990. This was in response to a request by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, to local authorities around the world asking them to commemorate what would have been Lennon’s 50th birthday and also the 10th anniversary of his death with the planting of a strawberry field. The plaque was removed but returned during the SCAPE biennial celebrations 20 September 2008 by artist Paul Johns.
(I found this information in the Miscellaneous file of our Christchurch Street and Place Names resource)