Here, and back again

16:00, Feb 19 2013
Karen Mullaly and her son Blake Bamford
HEADING BACK: Karen Mullaly and her son Blake Bamford, 10, are getting ready to head back to Christchurch after escaping the quake-riddled city two years ago.

In part three of our series marking Friday's second anniversary of the Canterbury earthquake, Jenna Lynch speaks with one family planning a move from Waikato back to Christchurch.

Only a Cantabrian sleeps with a torch next to the bed. Only a Cantabrian that lived through the earthquakes that is. You don't want to be stuck in the dark with glass smashing around you.

Two years on from the day that shook their lives, there are still life lessons like these that Karen Mullaly and her family stand by. "Never say never" is one.

Mrs Mullaly, 10-year-old son Blake, and miniature schnauzer Boston left Christchurch and moved to Hamilton in the weeks after the devastating Feburary 22 quake. Husband Neville Bamford joined them soon after.

After a few nervewracking encounters with the earth shaking that fractured the city, the family started calling Waikato home. They planned to buy a house here, and settle down.

If someone had told the family they would move back to Christchurch just two years after the quake Mrs Mullaly said she would have laughed at them. Of course not.


But as proof of the never-say-never mantra, the family are returning to the South Island next week.

Redundancy has seen Mr Bamford forced back to Christchurch, awaiting the arrival of the rest of his family, who are packing and ready to go next week.

"We're not really ready to go back," Mrs Mullaly said. "There's been quite a few tears because we are really happy here."

Blake said one of the greatest things about the Waikato, and the thing he would miss most, was the group of friends he made at Horsham Downs school.

His mum will also miss the people.

"The biggest thing is definitely the people.We have just been so lucky with the people we have met here," she said.

She likened friendships to wine - good ones mature over time. But friendships she has built in the Waikato don't exactly stick to that formula.

"These friendships are like top notch wine, without even having the time to mature," she said.

Mrs Mullaly said she will also miss the mighty Waikato river, watching it flow fast and free, the song of both tui and crickets as she walks beside it, and the friendly greetings from fellow walkers.

And she will miss our community spirit.

Mrs Mullaly played a huge part in organising the now-defunct Cantabrians in the Waikato group, who gathered last year on February 22, to watch coverage of tributes.

They will not be gathering this year, but that does not mean that they have forgotten.

Waikato Times