Family feels settled in Waikato's friendly embrace

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013
Melissa Davidso
Mark Taylor/FAIRFAX NZ

Life changing: Melissa Davidson at home with daughters Gemma, 2, and Abigail, 5 months.

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In part two of our series meeting people who moved to Waikato following the Canterbury earthquake, Harry Pearl speaks with mum-of-three Melissa Davidson.

Nearly two years on from the Christchurch earthquakes, Melissa Davidson is finally settled.

The mother of three moved to Hamilton from Christchurch in 2011 - barely a week after the February 22 earthquake left her home in tatters, and changed her life irrevocably.

"The cost of starting over was quite high, but worth it," Ms Davidson said.

"A lot of people didn't have the freedom to start over, because they had a house they couldn't sell, so in a sense I was lucky that I could leave."

Since relocating she has met a partner, fellow Cantabrian Simon Wetiford and had her third child, Abigail, who is 5 weeks old.

"I still really love it. I love the people, I love the Waikato," she said.

At the time of the February earthquake, Ms Davidson was on maternity leave from her job at Christchurch hospital.

When the quake struck just before 1pm on the 22nd, she was left clutching her infant daughter Gemma and separated from her son Riley, who was at school.

"I couldn't get to my son when the earthquake happened. My daughter was only five months old and I had her strapped to me, wading through thigh-deep silt and liquefaction.

"I was devastated. I didn't know what to do. I've never been in a situation where I've felt so useless."

She said it was fear for her kids' well-being that prompted her to move.

After arriving Hamilton with nothing but clothes for herself and her family, she eventually found a job at Huntly College as a school nurse, and has settled in Glenview.

Ms Davidson said she spent a lot of time with other Christchurch residents who had also shifted north.

"I think it was really important when I first came up, because there was no-one else who could understand the experience and it was helpful in starting over when you didn't have a network of friends."

Despite making a trip back down to Christchurch last year, Mrs Davidson said she did not want to re-establish herself there.

"It's like a ghost town, you drive down some streets and you expect tumble-weeds to blow past you. There are just big empty lots."

On Friday this week, exactly two years after the earthquake, Ms Davidson said she will most likely spend the night with her son, talking about the earthquake.

"Remembering that night is still unpleasant, but remembering the camaraderie between the friends and family we were staying with is a bit more pleasant."

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- Waikato Times

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