Quake City reflects loss and recovery

00:05, Feb 15 2013
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The Quake City exhibition includes a liquefaction display.
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The exhibition's Anglican Cathedral display, complete with spire.
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The exhibition includes the John Robert Godley statue.
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The exhibition includes a September 2010 earthquake display.
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Even the toilets have a familiar theme, including photos of people's long drops. Robert Gibbs cleans up before the exhibition's official opening.
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Quake City, an exhibition created by the Canterbury Museum opens to the public in the Re:Start Mall. Rachael Fone, collections technician, cleans the Student Army display before the opening.

Tragedy, heroism and humour were all on display at the opening of an exhibition on Christchurch's earthquakes.

Hundreds of guests attended the official opening of Quake City at the Re:Start container mall last night.

The exhibition, put together by the Canterbury Museum, includes shattered pieces of the rose window from Christ Church Cathedral, alongside tributes to volunteer groups such as the Student Volunteer Army and photos of people's homemade longdrops.

Museum director Anthony Wright said he came up with the idea after the museum hosted a temporary quake display last year.

"People were saying, 'This will be here forever, won't it?', and I had to say that it was moving around the country in six months,'' he said.

"People said that it would leave a huge gap in the city, and I thought that had to be filled."

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Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, who officially opened the exhibition, said it was a reminder of the devastation caused by the quakes.

"When you look at the empty sites all over the city ... it's easy to get grumpy about why they haven't been tidied up, but you need to look at this to get an idea of what some people have been dealing with," he said.

Guests at the exhibition opening moved among the displays with a mixture of sadness, contemplation and optimism.

Urban Search and Rescue worker Rhonda McNicol, who helped with recovery efforts after the February 2011 quake, said she was pleased to see the tributes to those who had been part of the city's recovery.

"To see our display is very humbling because we were part of this incredibly traumatic experience, but they also show all the hard work that has gone on in the city," she said.

Canterbury University lecturer Ken Donaldson said the exhibition highlighted the tragedies and opportunities caused by the quakes.

"I think we've got something here that really tells the full story,'' he said. ''It reflects what we've lost, but also what we can look forward to."

Wright said the exhibition would remain in place for three years and could eventually become part of a dedicated earthquake museum.

Entry costs $10 for adults, with accompanied children under 15 allowed in free.

The Press