the 27th February 2011 and on Tuesday the 22nd February 2011, New Zealand changed forever. At around 12.48, during lunchtime, our third largest city, Christchurch, was devastated by an earthquake measuring 6.4 and very shallow. We live approximately 500kms away and we felt it here very strongly, since that moment it has been hard to think of anything else except the people lost and hurt in the destroyed buildings, the families still looking for loved ones and of course the families that know they will never see their loved ones again. The television has been broadcasting live from Christchurch most of the days since this tragedy happened, the images of broken buildings, twisted roads, shocked and injured people, frantic people looking for their families and friends has become so familiar.
Occasionally there is a story of survival, a happy ending, and so many stories of people being incredibly heroic and trying to help complete strangers, friends, family and loved ones.
Five days later and there are still areas without power, without water and very little shelter, it is hard to believe that this can happen in our world.
The images of all the amazing people from all around, not only our country, but around the world who have converged on Christchurch to help in the search of these destroyed buildings, providing food and the basic human needs to complete strangers is absolutely amazing, and you wonder how it must be for them seeing what they are seeing.
We see so many terrible things on the television every night but they always happen "somewhere else", but even so you feel sad for the people who live there and wish you could help. but the feeling of absolute sadness when you see a city that you are completely familiar with, that you love the most after your own, that you visit two or three times a year is something I, and I'm sure a lot of other people, just wasn't prepared for.
Two weeks ago I was there, I stayed in a small country area about an hour north of Christchurch, where my sister and her family live, but on the way home we spent the day shopping in Christchurch, (they had much better shopping than us) and I was struck while on the second floor of their largest mall, how beautiful everything was, how happy and relaxed the people were, how they had started to relax after the 7.2 earthquake they had on September 4th 2010. Of course while driving around some of the areas, the signs of the devastation were still evident but rebuilding had begun and life was getting back to some sort of normality. Now with this last terrible blow it has to start all over again.
Christchurch is known for it's beautiful English architecture, it's gorgeous stone churches, the Art's centre and mainly it's cathedral, probably the most beautiful building in New Zealand , it's gorgeous old wooden houses, it's parks and gardens, the Avon river drifting through the middle of the city and many cultural attractions.
Christchurch will I'm sure rise again, because the people are made of very strong stuff, but I'm sure it will take a very long time and be a very different place.
And in a very selfish way, I'm sad about that, but my hope for the people is that they can find some comfort in the fact that the rest of the world cares about them and everyone will do whatever it takes to help them recover as best they can, Cantrabrians are made of strong stuff and in the words of their wonderful mayor Bob Parker, "Christchurch will come back from this and be better and stronger than ever".
I truly hope they do.