Memories of Chch could fade, says historian

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 09:12 21/03/2013
Cracroft House
STACY SQUIRES
HERITAGE: The cob cottage was built by politician Sir John Cracroft Wilson between 1854 and 1856.

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Christchurch earthquake

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Memories of Christchurch before the earthquakes could be forgotten without work to preserve them through pictures and oral histories, a local historian says.

University of Canterbury professor Katie Pickles said Christchurch's landscape had changed dramatically and was continuing to change as more of the city's iconic buildings and landmarks were demolished.

''They might be physically gone, but they live on. They're definitely part of people's memories.''

However, Pickles said memories and emotions were tied to particular places, and if the places were demolished, they could no longer act as memory triggers.

''People are feeling that sense of placelessness. It's a horrible feeling for most people to have that kind of empty void there. If you forget the past you don't have a sense of who you are.''

The iconic and landmark buildings demolished since Canterbury's earthquakes would still be available as images in books and galleries, but the emotions connected to many of those memories could be ''locked'' inside people's minds as the buildings that triggered them were lost.

''We all make mental maps in our heads made up of our life journeys around our environment. The earthquakes have short-circuited these mental maps.''

The situation had prompted more people to start recording the histories of their neighbourhoods, she said.

''There's this new interest [in history]. Students and a lot of writers and residents' associations are recording oral histories. It took for [the city] to change for people to go 'how did it really mean to me'.''

Pickles will discuss lost landmarks as a key speaker at the second annual Seismics and the City forum at the Addington Events Centre on Thursday.

The University of Canterbury's new Quake Centre will also be launched that day at the Westpac Hub.

The buildings Pickles' misses the most post-quakes are:

The Westpac Building, formerly the Canterbury Savings Bank and Trustbank Canterbury building, in Cashel St

The Lane Walker Rudkin complex in Durham St

The Riccarton Raceway members' grandstand

St George's Hospital heritage building

Cracroft House in Cashmere

Christchurch Girls' High School in Montreal St

Cranmer Courts in Montreal St

Warner's Hotel in Cathedral Square

Occidental Hotel on Hereford St

The Christchurch Children's Library on Cambridge Tce

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