Christchurch a lesson in survival

Last updated 14:30 01/05/2014
Tourist photographs ChristChurch Cathedral
Joseph Johnson

SEEING THE CITY: A tourist photographs the damaged Christ Church Cathedral.

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I have avoided Christchurch, in a very subconscious way, since February 2011.

For me, born and bred in Wellington and now a resident of Auckland, I thought of the city as the birthplace of my father and a destination for holidays - first at my grandmother's, and then at my aunt and uncle's farm a short distance from Darfield.

To see a place I love torn to pieces was going to be too much to cope with, until Anzac weekend when I attended a cousin's wedding and had no choice but to face a city that I heard now resembled a bomb site.

It was hard. The CTV building site, with its flowers and messages of sorrow, 185 white chairs (the baby-seat is particularly hard to look at), and buildings everywhere being held up anyway possible while they await a verdict of either restoration or dismantlement.

The cathedral, the heart of a great city, is frozen in time with only pigeons making the most of a home that is now missing its front.

What overwhelmed me though, was the amazing love and effort which is being poured into the city, where the people are clearly making the best of a very bad situation.

On many buildings, murals have been painted showcasing a wide range of styles, colours and thought.

A cardboard cathedral has been constructed so the residents know there is still a place to worship.

Everywhere there are people still enjoying their city. They walk in the parks and the squares, they drink coffee in Cashel Mall, even though the shops are now shipping containers rather than modern buildings, and they laugh and hug and accept the roll of the dice has not completely gone their city's way.

It is a lesson in survival, strength and the part of our human nature that allows us to both cope with and overcome tragedy, even if it means turning a blind eye to the work crews, the construction sites and the long road of rebuild ahead of them.

I implore all New Zealanders who haven't made their way to the Garden City to make a special effort to spend a weekend there. It does the soul good to see how strong our Canterbrian brothers and sisters are, and you walk away with a wonderful sense of "everything is going to be alright".

Kia kaha Christchurch. 

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