Raewyn's courage inspires TV show

Red-zone 'camp mum' inspires TV drama

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 05/07/2014
Raewyn Iketau and her partner, Charlie Duthie
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ

CAMP MUM: Raewyn Iketau and her partner, Charlie Duthie, lived for months without power and water in the central Christchurch red zone after the 2011 earthquake.

RED ZONE: Raewyn Iketau has been living in Peterborough St since the earthquake with no power or water. Cooking dinner on open fire in the backyard.
IAIN MCGREGOR / The Press. Zoom
RED ZONE: Raewyn Iketau has been living in Peterborough St since the earthquake with no power or water. Cooking dinner on open fire in the backyard.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Raewyn Iketau is a survivor.

The trait earned her the title of "red zone camp mum" after the February 2011 earthquake, and inspired the film-maker behind a television drama on the disaster.

Gaylene Preston said Iketau's story, and others like it, formed "the positive heart" of her Hope and Wire series, which premiered on Thursday.

Iketau, 59, and her partner, Charlie Duthie, 67, lived for months without power and water inside the central-Christchurch cordon after the quake. Their Peterborough St home was badly damaged but they stayed put.

Duthie built a long-drop toilet in the garden.

Iketau salvaged wood daily from nearby demolition sites for a fire to cook outside. She used an abandoned shopping trolley to collect water from the nearest working tap.

Each night there was a hot bath waiting for Duthie, who worked on city watermain repairs.

There was enough food on the makeshift stove for neighbours. Army personnel manning the cordon were regularly treated to her home-made jam and pikelets.

Their living situation caught the eye of The Press photographer Iain McGregor, who spent days recording Iketau in 2011, including when damage from the June 13 quakes finally forced the couple to vacate.

Preston contacted McGregor after seeing his photos and Iketau's story.

While no Hope and Wire character was based specifically on Iketau, "it was what she represented", Preston said.

"Her situation, and that of many other people like her, inspired the programme. They [the photos] gave me an idea of where the positive heart of the story was."

Iketau, 59, was among the estimated 275,700 New Zealanders who watched the drama on Thursday night.

"It hit home. It knocked me for a six. I was proud," Iketau said.

Now re-established in Packe St, Edgeware, Iketau is keeping up her "camp mum" activities.

These days, the volunteers at the community street gardens next door are enjoying her pikelets.

She would "never forget" her 90-day struggle in Peterborough St. It made her stronger, she said, and reinforced the mantra that got her through: "We can survive. If we don't know how, we can learn.

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- The Press

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