Friday, May 10, 2013

dear christchurch

We've just returned from a wee break away in Hanmer Springs and Christchurch. We barely spent 24 hours in Christchurch, but it was enough time to stay with my sister, have wontons for lunch, visit an op shop (I was the only taker), take a bike ride through Hagley Park (the rest of the family), have dinner with some friends, watch a funny man, and have a wander around the city centre before the 5 hour drive home.

Trying to gather my thoughts and feelings and write coherently about them is a bit like trying to take a family selfie in front of the Christchurch Art Gallery. I thought it would be easy, but it's not.

I lived in Christchurch for about 9 years. It was the first city I'd lived in and the first I got to know and love.

Christchurch is where I met my husband. Our first date included a trip to the art gallery, but not this one, the old one.

Our second date was to the movies in the Arts Centre. My car was parked very close to where those sculptures outside the new art gallery are now. It was probably about there that I realised the guy I'd just met might be "the one".

I brought my first house in Christchurch. Soon after the guy I'd only recently met moved in with me. I made my first garden, and we did our first renovations together. We got our first cat from the SPCA.

We moved from Christchurch two years later, and headed to Wellington for new jobs. I always enjoyed trips back, to old familiar haunts, shops, cafes, op shops. I could even still manage to navigate myself around the unique one-way road system.

But now when I return I wander disorientated and disbelieving. So much has gone, so much has changed its hard to get one's bearings, to remember what used to be there. It's so sad. So many people have been affected.

Things have changed a bit since our last visit in September last year. More buildings have been demolished, and the cordon area has been moved. New Regent Street has just "re-opened". But apart from people walking about in hi-viz gear there are not many others on the streets, just a few "tourists" like us. Walking about trying to take it all in.

These last two photos are from the Sept 2012 visit, as the Bridge of Remembrance is now surrounded by scaffolding and re-construction.

 There is more public art than there used to be. But there needs to be.

Over two years later there are still stark reminders, of the day the world changed for this wonderful city and its people.

Driving home through the beauty of North Canterbury I told the kids not to let this put them off living in Christchurch. On the other hand I feel glad that we no longer live there, that we haven't had to go through what the people of Christchurch have had to endure. I don't know how I would have coped. I don't know how they cope. My heart goes out to Christchurch and its people.


  1. i know what you mean. i recently danced at a plug-your-ipod in open air disco on the spot where the restaurant was that terry and i went to on our first date. so many places like that now, and what's worse is so many spots where you cant remember what was there before at all! can't believe the art gallery is closed for it's 10th birthday this weekend. still, lots of outdoor art we shall be taking in x

  2. Wow, that really does look a fabulous place! x

  3. I remember seeing the dreadful pictures on tv at the time. The news cameras move on and the amount of time it takes in reconstruction gets forgotten. How sad that some areas are difficult to recognise. Thank you for taking us with you.
    Sarah x

  4. I bet it was really hard to go back there and see how it has changed. Especially since the city means so much to you and you have so many happy memories there. I do like that there is more public art now - that is a very good thing :)

  5. oh my goodness, didn't even know about this (being in the UK) just googled, 'what happened in Christchurch?' how truly awful...that must have been quite an experience going back to such familiar fond memories and not being able to recognise anything due to this awful tragedy. xxx

  6. Sally.
    thanks for this excellent post.
    I have wondered a lot about Christchurch which I so enjoyed visiting in 2010. Met some artists at the arts centre and have wondered how they got on and hoped all were safe and well.