Red zone homes may stay as memorials

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 11:57 15/06/2013

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A few Christchurch homes in the residential red zone could be preserved as memorials and be used to tell the stories of their former owners.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) boss Roger Sutton said the search is on for homes that could tell the story of what happened in Christchurch.

He said the idea came about when he was taking civil servants on a tour of the residential red zone.

"We have to tell those people's stories. One house we went into, there was not a photo of Betty [the home owner] there. There was no telling of her story.

"We have to make sure we keep some of those houses and tell some of those stories. What happened to Betty on that day? How long was it before someone came along and took her somewhere else to sleep?

"Where is she living now? How hard was it to find another place? Is she happy? We have to tell all those stories."

Sutton said they are looking for homes with earthquake damage that can be made stable and preserved.

"We are on to that at the moment. Which houses will we save and which stories will we tell? Some people will have moved on but others will still be struggling."

Red-zone advocacy groups welcomed the idea but said Cera should involve local communities in the project.

"It is important to make sure they talk to people from the red-zone community," Cancern relationships manager Leanne Curtis said.

"You need to make sure it is done in a way that was going to meet the needs of the people that lived there.

"It is really important to red-zoners what happens in those areas because it is their community. You need to bring some of those leaders in who are connected with red- zoners to make sure what they are doing is done in the right way.

"Red-zoners still feel like they belong in those spaces and own those spaces."

A spokesman for Cera said the idea was "purely a concept and Roger has had only very preliminary discussions with Cera staff ".

"Without decisions on the future use of the residential red zone, this can't be formally considered as yet."

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- The Press

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