Today a year ago my world changed. It also changed for everyone who lived in Christchurch at the time, and it will never ever be the same again. 185 people died, one was a photography friend I did’t yet know very well, but was looking forward to changing that. Our city infrastructure was devastated and still not fully recovered a year on. Unless you have lived through it, its impossible to really explain what it is like. People in New Orleans after Katrina, and in Queensland after the floods a year ago have a good idea what it was like. Its that bad. And it continues because our city is still badly broken and its much more difficult to live in now. Many businesses closed with the CBD becoming the Red Zone (a no go area) and of those some have found new premises and reopened. Some are in the process and some probably never will. So if you need some trousers shortened, or a pair of shoes fixed, or a hairdresser, all of those things are so much more difficult now. And its an extra layer of stress on top of what are already stressful times.
But we Kiwis are a hard bunch, soft is not in our makeup. So we carry on, we make do, we persevere. We drive over twice as far to get groceries and petrol. To work. We check online on websites to get updates if businesses are open and relocated. We cluster in the few remaining pubs and snatch opportunities for some R&R. We chat to complete strangers in checkout queues about the last aftershock. You don’t make small talk about the weather in CHCH now, its “how is your house” because everyone one has a story. I reply “my house is still standing and the toilet flushes” because they do, and suddenly those are the most important things.
This is not a plea for sympathy, its an attempt to share awareness of our situation, the fact even a year on out CBD is still closed to us, roads are awful, some people still can’t use their own toilets, many people still have unresolved damaged house issues. It isn’t over for us and will truly be years before it is, but it gets better because we do what we can to make it better.
I have had mixed emotions with photographing the damage. We were so bombarded with images and TV post quake I was very depressed and didn’t go out with my camera much, but here are some of the shots I have taken. These are a mixture of the first big quake on Sept 4 2010, where there was quite a lot of damage but no loss of life. And then Feb 22 2011 where there was massive widespread damage and 185 lives lost.
These are my memories, these are mostly snaps for recording the moment, not a lot of art went into the construction of these images, they are as they are:
And finally the Christchurch Cathedral, the most photographed building in the centre of the city for good reason, as it was a lovely example of its type. It is in ruins and unlikely to be resurrected in a similar format due to safety reasons. I did a night shot one night, playing around with capturing the textures.