Volunteers repaint quake memorial chairs

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 04:00 10/02/2014
Volunteers repaint quake memorial chairs
Kirk Hargreaves Zoom
Volunteers repainting the quake memorial chairs in Madras St.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A popular memorial to the 185 people who died in the February 2011 earthquake has been given a spruce up ahead of the disaster's third anniversary. 

The 185 white chairs that formed a tribute to the city's earthquake victims were given a fresh lick of paint by about 40 volunteers yesterday, while the rest of the Madras St site was tidied up and a small fence installed along the roadside. 

''I think that's one of the strengths of [the project], that the community have brought into it and are quite happy to come along and paint chairs,'' artist Peter Majendie said.

Volunteers still needed to put up a trellis fence along the back of the site to ''define the space'' and stop the bitter southerly wind from knocking over chairs, but Majendie expected the work would be done before the third anniversary of the earthquake on February 22. 

The Madras St site was now owned by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and had been earmarked to become part of the city's proposed new stadium. Majendie said the chairs memorial would stay on the site until at least the end of the year, but he did not know what would happen after that.

The project was always designed to be a temporary place of remembrance until a permanent earthquake memorial was built, he said.

''I think it's done that and it's doing that very well. We'll just carry on maintaining it throughout this year.''

About 25 comments books had been filled out by visitors so far. Some took solace in specific chairs, while others were appreciative of having somewhere they could sit and reflect. 

''For some people it's as if the earthquake was yesterday," Majendie said.

''Even yesterday someone said that the wheelchair spoke to them the strongest. It's because they felt like they had been crippled by the earthquake and they were still struggling to come to terms with what happened to them."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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