Young voices of Christchurch

Your Weekend asked some young people between the ages of 10 and 20 to write about their lives in Christchurch. They were free to choose any aspect of life in the city. It did not have to be earthquake-related. However, it is clear that the changed landscape looms large. 


10, pupil at St Albans School

I have a brother who is 11 and goes to Heaton Intermediate. My mum is a teacher and my dad is an accountant. We have a dog called Pip and she is a border collie.

There are a lot of things we could do before the earthquake that we can't now. We used to go swimming at QEII and Centennial Pool. We also used to go to the art gallery and the museum and then go to the food stalls at the Arts Centre. I would get fried rice and chicken satay and an L&P. After the earthquake we couldn't go there any more. Now, we often go to the Re:Start mall, I get a hot dog. I really like it there because there are a lot of really interesting shops.

I enjoy playing soccer and hanging out with my friends. I play soccer for school on a Friday afternoon and for a club on Saturday morning. After that my dad takes me to the bakery to get a pie for lunch.

I've just moved into a new house that we recently built in Lincoln, which is really cool, especially the 3-D TV. When I grow up, I would like to be an architect so I can design new and safe buildings for Christchurch. I'm really interested in famous landmarks and learning about them and hope Christchurch could have one so our city could be known all over the world!

I am excited about my future in Christchurch because there are going to be more really cool buildings and other fun things to do.



20, works at Cosmic head office

Living in Christchurch at the moment is about getting out of my comfort zone. In the last year I have turned into a bit of an extracurricular nerd!

Up until the big quake, I spent most of my time on High St. I attended Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti High School then went to Polytech Fashion School and worked part-time at Cosmic (funky retail store) - all on High St.

There was something pretty special about growing up in town. I miss just running into people but mostly it's just out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I still work for Cosmic but in our head office. I drive a little 1981 yellow Mitsubishi Mirage and I live in a flat with two good friends in Lyttelton.

In the last year, I've had this overwhelming urge to try everything! It all began when I tried trapeze and tissue (aerial silk) classes at the Christchurch Circus Centre. It was the first active thing I'd done since primary school so it was definitely a challenge. Since then I have been practising yoga regularly, mainly hot yoga, and I love it. I think I was definitely born to be a yogi!

I then went in a crafty direction and learned how to make jewellery with the Silversmith Guild. Although silver-work can be a bit tedious, the end result was worth it. I can't wait to go back and make more rings. Currently I am trying my hand at pottery. It's not as easy as I was hoping, but I think things are looking up. No matter what I try to make it always ends up as a bowl. Everyone should expect bowls for Christmas. Once I've made enough bowls for everyone, I think I'll try lead lighting. I've never worked with glass before so it should be interesting.

Another hobby of mine is going out to restaurants with my boyfriend, Myles. Eating is definitely my favourite activity. Headless Mexican in Sumner makes a mean vegetarian taco and hot cheese dip and The Smokehouse on Ferry Rd does the best waffles with the crispiest bacon.

I used the lack of a city centre as an excuse for not having much of a social life but secretly I love being in long-term party hibernation. I still drag myself out for a boogie under the stars, though. Outdoor parties have been a love of mine for the last six years. That's one thing the earthquakes didn't affect. M*A*S*S*I*V*E organise four parties a year, one for each equinox and solstice. Sweet music, awesome crew and epic surroundings! I love Christchurch and I always will.

When I see the Port Hills I feel home.




16, ESOL pupil at Hagley College

(moved from China one year ago)

Compared with other families, my family is very ordinary. But it is the happiest family in the world. It is not too big and also not too small. There are five members. There is my beautiful sister, my funny brother-in-law, my kind mum and my cute little nephew and me. We always like to do many things together and the life is so colourful.

Generally, we just spend our busy days by ourselves, from Monday to Friday. My sister and her husband just go to work, I go to school and spend my time studying. My nephew goes to such a cute kindergarten. I miss him so much when I take him in the mornings. However, we like to spend our night times and weekends together.

We often go to many kinds of activities like swimming, ice skating, shopping and going to the Sunday Market. We also have too much fun at home. We are usually fond of sitting on the sofa and finding various snacks, then start watching amusing programmes and comedies. Sometimes we like joking with each other as well. Therefore, laughing is around my home every day.


16, ESOL pupil at Hagley College

(moved from Malaysia a few months ago)

Usually, life in my home is just nothing different from other people. But one thing that is fun is hanging out with my neighbours. There are four kids at my neighbour's house. Every day when I go home I hang out with them after I clean my room. They ask me to play Uno or on the PS3. Sometimes I will just go outside and play basketball or soccer. They want me to teach them how to play. This is the life in my home.




12, year 8 pupil at Wharenui School.

Me and my family have been struggling to find a permanent house to live in. First we started in Addington, where we had to move out of so we went to a friend's house and stayed in their garage. So we decided to go and stay in a sleepout.

It was all good but then it went wrong. So me and my mum and my sisters stayed at another friend's house while our dad hired a caravan in Spencer Park. It was fine for him, but when we arrived we got really cramped so Mum hired another caravan in Spencer Park. Perfection was here! Except when we needed to have a shower or watch TV, because we had to run across the field even when it was raining. And we had to run across the camp site to go to the toilet. Mum suggested we go round the back of the caravan but there were insects so no-one wanted to do that.

In the end we got a real house to live in but there's still one wish. I wish we get to live in the house forever because I'm sick of having to move house to house all the time.

I'm always drawing. I usually draw anime people, or "characters" as the fancy artists say. Anime is a kind of Japanese drawing that I found out about from people at school. Then I got some books out of the library to find out more. I'm also in a programme called Big Brothers Big Sisters. The programme is quite awesome because you do all sorts of things, but that's not really what it's for. It's for people who need a mentor and you can tell them stuff that you just can't tell your parents. I've been with mine for a year now. Well, that's me. Over and out.




17, pupil at Aranui High School

For the last two years, I have lived a life that is loud and fast but also slow, tiring and complicated. As victims of the earthquakes, my family was forced to move north of town to the nearest family who had room for us. And once we sorted things out, we found the closest available house big enough and we settled in Woodend.

From rows of houses to rows of fields. The transition from my suburban streets and multi-cultural neighbours to quiet air and a dairy farm was like jumping from the warmth of a bathroom heater into a cold shower. The new environment was like having a bucket of ice thrown over me when my sister, Hannah, and I began attending a new high school. Finding our way around the large Rangiora High School was hard enough without the multitudes of students flooding every corridor and courtyard. Although the staff and facilities were outstanding, personal indifference ensured my time there was unproductive and uncomfortable.

As we, like many others, wait for word on our property in the eastern suburbs, we are stuck where we are - away from Christchurch, away from family and away from home. But my sister and I still make an effort to continue our lives where we left them before the quake.

Bussing to Aranui from Woodend seemed impossible when we first decided the country schools weren't working for us but once we worked out the bus routes and figured out how our alarm clocks worked, we were on our way to regaining our old lives back in the 'hood, even if it does make for a 12-hour day.

After two years of being unsure and stuck, I am finally back where I want to be. Back at Aranui High School in a place I still think of as home. Two years is a long time, though, and things have changed. The shops I grew up with have blown away with the dust and are now empty sections. New buildings and classrooms have replaced the old ones and new teachers kept asking my name.

But the one thing the earthquakes couldn't destroy has not changed. My friends were still the boys and girls I grew up with and had grown to love, my family has stood strong. We are just waiting to come home for good.




19, law student

I often think that my social life is reliant mostly on my proximity to a computer or my phone, rather than on my physical location and the community of the city that I inhabit.

I find it much easier and preferable to make friends online than in a real life. My optimal world is probably one in which everyone just has a Twitter account so I can get to know you before having to confront my horrifying social awkwardness in face-to-face conversation.

I am still involved in the Christchurch community - I'm in my second year of a double degree in law and English at the university, and have a couple of part-time jobs. I've been working in the same retirement village for four years. I love doing those things, and my life would be worse off without this daily interaction. However, through social media, I have made friends with people from all over the world, online, and built another community for myself. I've also made local friends online, who I never would have crossed paths with otherwise. The online world and the real world are two parts of my life that are both fulfilling, and often intersect.

Ultimately, I feel social media both makes this city feel larger - as I meet new people who teach about elements of this city I had never experienced before; and smaller - as I compare the options for entertainment here to the kind of things my friends in San Francisco, Melbourne or even Wellington have access to.

As you can probably tell, I'm a wee bit of an introvert, so when my friends and I do go out it's mostly to the movies or out to eat. We're not big partiers, so the absence of a central city hasn't particularly affected us. However, we spent the weekend in Dunedin a few weeks ago and stayed in a flat situated five minutes' walk from the central city, which seemed like a situation I could very much get used to.

Other days I walk just down the street to the public library and feel proud of what this city still has, especially when compared to frequent library closures I hear about online from America.

When I bike through Hagley Park on my way to work in what I call the early morning but the rest of you probably call 10am, I get very romantic and feel completely at home. In these times, the idea of living anywhere seems like it would only lead to disappointment. Then I ruin the moment by taking an obviously amateurish photo of the park on my phone and upload it to Instagram, because it's 2013 and my real and online experiences exist together, each enhancing and contextualising the other.?

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