Quake refugees at home

EMILY SPINK
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014
Cliff and Lyn Martin

HOME SWEET HOME: Cliff and Lyn Martin enjoy the quiet and relaxed rural living in Amberley.

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They call themselves "refugees" or "survivors" and they make up a special little community within Amberley's Wineberry Estate.

They thought they were settling in to their Kaiapoi and Christchurch homes for retirement, but after the September 2010 earthquake, five retired and semi-retired couples were forced to relocate from their broken homes. While in limbo, some went "flatting" with their neighbours, moved into motels or remained in their "liveable" but red-zoned properties.

Over a year has passed since the refugees moved into Wineberry Estate and they couldn't be happier in their new community.

"It was the best thing we have ever done," said Fraser Robertson.

Robertson and wife Jeanie moved into Wineberry Estate in December 2012. Their home in Kaiapoi's red-zoned Courtenay Drive was earmarked for relocation but 75 per cent of it was destroyed in a suspected arson. With their house deemed "liveable" and in the red-zone, they were eventually the only occupants in their street before moving together with some of their previous neighbours in Kaiapoi.

"We've all had that shared experience of the 13,000 earthquakes, or something, which is why we're closer out here than we were in Kaiapoi."

They share garden tools, home-grown produce, baking ingredients and can often be found on any given day catching up in the Little Vintage Espresso Cafe.

"What he hasn't got, I've got and vice versa . . . We swap seeds and plants and produce. If we have a surplus of beans, we'll give them to the neighbours," Robertson said.

Lyn and Cliff Martin also lost their Courtenay Drive home and relocated to the North Canterbury town one year ago on Thursday.

"It's like a big family. We all look after one another," Mrs Martin said.

While they seldom needed to venture into town, the group were looking forward to the completion of Countdown in the village.

"When the supermarket goes in we'll have everything here."

Christine Mullany, who was one of the first couples to move in to the subdivision with husband Maurie, said she had never experienced anything like the community they had.

"If anyone sees you struggling, they will come over and help out."

It was a sentiment shared by Margaret and Gerry Wood, who lost their home on New Brighton Road.

She said that while they were still a little jumpy and hearts would stop whenever there was a bang, they were all helping one another to heal.

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- The Press

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