Rod revisits the disaster.
Earthquake – Christchurch Two Years Later
We had often thought we should take a look at the Christchurch Red Zone and, eventually, we did – two years and three days after the second, more destructive event.
The Red Bus (company name) tour of the Red Zone showed us around (for no small fee, part of which goes to an appropriate fund).
The Red Zone currently covers something like a square kilometre (0.4 sq mile or so), which is a lot smaller than it was shortly after the event (a lot smaller), where access is limited because of continuing uncertainty over buildings' stability.
Demolition continues. Rebuilding is taking place – but outside the red zone.
The current estimate for the rebuild is some $4,000,000,000. Though that figure tends to boggle minds, one does wonder if recovery on this scale could be that cheap – unless it's just the City Council's share (There are many, many complaints of insurance companies not paying out their dues – and a court case.)
There is a place of remembrance which was originally put together on the site of a Baptist Church and is now where a Presbyterian Church used to be. It was moved in order to allow work to begin progress on its original site and, it will be moved again. There is talk of finding a site and of keeping it intact, as a permanent memorial.
This place is a loosely roped-off area containing One Hundred and Eighty-Five chairs, each facing the noonday sun. That's one chair for each of the people who died in that event.
No two of the chairs are the same design.
One of these chairs is a baby's recliner, one a child's chair. There's a wheelchair in there, too... and at least one of each.
Under the front of each chair is a little pot with a flowering plant in it.
At the time we visited, a man was lifting a pot, dipping it in a bucket of water for a few seconds, replacing it, moving on to the next. We think that man was Pete Majendie, the artist who created the shrine.
None of us asked more.