Readers' ideas for earthquake memorial

POSSIBLE INSPIRATION: A memorial for Cerritos Air Disaster, which took place in California in 1986.
POSSIBLE INSPIRATION: A memorial for Cerritos Air Disaster, which took place in California in 1986.

Readers have come up with a series of suggestions for earthquake memorials in Christchurch.

My column last week calling the lack of action in tidying up the CTV site - where 115 people lost their lives after the earthquake of February 22, 2011 - a disgrace triggered a strong response from readers.

Many agreed that three years was far too long and that Cera had failed by not acting sooner.

The site has now been cleared with gravel and lawn laid in time for the third anniversary of the quake. The high fence has been removed and flowers and tributes have been placed at the rear of the site.

This is overdue. For the cost of about a couple of weeks salary for a CEO or a council management consultant, the CTV site could - and should - have been improved long ago. 

Readers forwarded suggestions for a memorial - both on the CTV site and for Christchurch as a whole.

Several pointed out that there is already a memorial at Avonhead cemetery. However, it is not well known and is remote from the centre of the disaster.

Karen Whitla called for a walled garden on the CTV site ''using a lot of the material (stone and wood) salvaged from the cathedral and a small open air chapel.

''I have always felt the main body of the cathedral should be the stone walls of a walled memorial garden and the new smaller [set of] cathedrals built around the garden.

''As for CTV site, grassed with seats, three very large oaks and a massive rock of greenstone we can touch, or a water feature . . . finally flowers . . . lots and lots of flowers.''

Whitla also said she was appalled a Japanese memorial built to commemorate the earthquake was only now being rehoused in the Cardboard Cathedral after having been ''in storage'' for two years.

Paul Hodson said he was amazed at how little there was on the CTV site after three years.

''I totally agree we need something, if only something temporary, a wishing well, a statue, a lump of concrete, something, anything!''

Hodson said he had written a poem. ''Maybe I will get it laminated and pop it on the fence.''

Maureen Jacobs wanted a ''living memorial, with a waterfall, trees, plants, movement, seating and lights.''

She attached pictures of a memorial for the Cerritos Air Disaster, in California, in 1986. The koru symbol was a possibility.

''The koru [Māori for ''loop''] is a spiral shape based on the shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolising new life, growth, strength and peace. That would be nice above the plaques in the area.''

Peter Bloxham wrote: ''A simple garden would be a good memorial. There is no need to spend millions.''

Daryl Maguire wrote: ''I believe a design competition is needed for a memorial or memorials. Look at the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C. as a benchmark.''

Joy Bonham suggested a new role for the ruined Christ Church Cathedral.

''Has consideration been given to using the cathedral, as is but structurally sound, as a memorial to those we lost", he wrote.

"A garden, seating for reflection and remembrance, a plaque remembering those who are not here now, a place to remember those who are still here that suffered physically and emotionally, a place to quietly say thank you to those faceless/nameless people have been rescuers/supporters/helping hands, message boards for visitors and families, a place where people can go to still be connected to their faith.

''The CTV site has the potential to be developed as part of the new 'greener' city with a remembrance site there too. Not all the lives lost were in the CTV building so the cathedral will centralise and bring together all the people who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives and be a sanctuary for those left behind who have had to carry on.''

Sally McDonald also thought the cathedral could provide inspiration. ''I have thought for a long time that we could build a miniature cathedral (with the materials fallen from the cathedral) next door to the ruins of the cathedral in the square - as a museum/memorial to those who lost their lives.''

Mike Stubberfield suggested a memorial along the lines of the Ballantynes Memorial Rose Garden, in the Ruru Lawn Cemetery in Bromley, which commemorates the 41 people who died in the 1947 Ballantynes department store fire.

''A possible location might be in the same general area as the Ballantynes' memorial or, if that's not feasible, then possibly the Botanical Gardens?''

Paul am wrote: ''We could take a lesson from Oamaru post WWI. Not a single plaque/monument, which just occupies a single spot. Instead, somewhere in the new green belt, create a large grove of trees (one for each victim) with a quiet memorial and seats in the centre.''

Bluenose wrote: ''The cathedral, broken but still standing should be the memorial. [It] will need some strengthening work.''

CJ agreed: ''I've always liked this idea too, much like the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, which indeed makes for a powerful and moving memorial.''

The Press