Hope and Wire like punch to stomach

21:40, Jul 03 2014
Hope and Wire
HOPE: Construction worker Ryan, played by Jarod Rawiri, tries to fix what can't be fixed.
Hope and Wire
FEAR: Terrified by the quakes, Donna, played by Miriama McDowell, decided to move to Auckland with her children.
Hope and Wire
PEACE: Rachel House plays Joycie, a caregiver at the heart of the series, whose motto is 'keep calm and carry on'.
Hope and Wire
DETERMINATION: Set in the aftermath of the quakes, Hope and Wire tells a universal story of hope and triumph against the odds.

I watched with an open mind, but the first time I saw Hope and Wire I felt as if I'd been punched in the stomach.

I was unprepared for the conflicting emotions it brought to the surface.

I thought it would be unpleasant to view a dramatisation of the earthquake that started it all on September 4, 2010, but I thought I would be fine to handle it.

Instead I had to quickly hit pause through blurry eyes as I felt tears running down my face.

This happened in an office in a new building, just a few metres away from where I used to sit in an office in a building which no longer exists because of the quakes.

Later I showed the first episode of Hope and Wire to a colleague for his reaction.


"It's like they are raping the city," he said. "And what shocking acting. I'm off home now, I'll wade through old-school stereotypes and several skirmishes with skinheads to get there."

It also needs more cones. Its people to traffic cones ratio was totally off.

It left me jumping at loud noises again, something I haven't done for a long time. I also felt fiercely protective of how my city and my fellow residents had been portrayed. After all, we're in this together, right?

Hope and Wire, named after a song by Lyttelton band The Eastern, is pitched as a drama but with its direct-to-camera speech it mirrors a documentary. It does neither effectively to my mind.

That said, many New Zealanders outside of Christchurch are ignorant of all that has happened here.

Anything that raises awareness on a national level has to be a good thing.

Directly after the quake Prime Minister John Key promised that no-one in Christchurch would be worse off.

He lied.

This Government has all but fed many vulnerable people to the insurance wolves.

Our earthquake minister denies a housing crisis, arguing semantics over the definition of 'crisis', while many vulnerable people struggle.

Having seen the whole series, and with the benefit of a few weeks' distance to mull it over, I don't agree with it but I'm glad Hope and Wire exists.

As my big-hearted friend Adam McGrath, who features in the series, wrote recently, our stories are the city's stories, our grief is our city's grief. Our experience is collective and individual. Our journey is our own and all of ours. Everyone deserves to be heard. Hope and Wire is one river, there are many more.

This is a man who, after the February earthquake, when my family was marooned like many others, came to the house we were camping in and sang Old McDonald Had a Farm to my children. He made them smile and dance in the middle of earth-shattering chaos.

He and Jess Shanks of The Eastern then played for my workmates at Portacom city, in the middle of a car park in a fierce wind.

McGrath's dear mum also once worked at The Press, in a building which no longer exists.

Personal quakes happen every day for all of us. All we can do is support one another and show empathy.

Many of my dear friends appear in Hope and Wire, often as "extras".

But to me they are the main attraction. Some were paid for their time, some were not.

Seeing my friends on TV as part of this series really hit home.

From members of The Eastern family, to my artist friend Eve, who gives the best hugs. She played the part of someone fleeing Bexley.

Anyone who knows Eve knows she wouldn't flee from anything.

The sad thing for me is that these people's stories are, I believe, far more interesting than the thug-like scenes and stereotypes on Hope and Wire.

Hope and Wire is one aftershock which could have been avoided.

The Eastern, on principle, have never applied to New Zealand On Air for funding to make their music.

It's a little ironic that NZ On Air allocated $5M to GP-HWW Ltd to make Hope and Wire.

By far, the best thing about Hope and Wire is the music.

Some Cantabrians might prefer to skip the often unrecognisable drama and just buy the music soundtrack - it sounds like us.

The Press