Memories of an earthquake
Saturday 22 February 2014 is the third anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake that took 185 lives.
Christchurch people are remembering the day in many different ways:
- The city’s official Civic Memorial Service earthquake will be held on the Archery Lawn at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens from 12pm, with an address by Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and an official wreath laying.
- The River of Flowers – Te Waitihi Maumahara; 15 sites have been set up along the Avon, Heathcote and Liffey rivers and at the estuary for Cantabrians to join in the River of Flowers; with community groups hosting each site between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Participants can play flowers in the waterways and write messages on a tree of hope.
- People are being encouraged to place flowers in road cones – a tribute that went global in 2012.
- A Memorial Service will be held at the Transitional Cathedral from 5.30pm to 6pm and is open to those who lost a loved one in the 2011 earthquake or went through the disaster. The Cathedral will also display the Kahikatea Earthquake Memorial Sculpture for the first time, with those attending the memorial invited to place a twig on the sculpture and make a personal prayer.
- A Run to Remember is a fun run starting at Victoria Park at 9 am. All proceeds will be donated to the Canterbury Earthquake Children’s Trust, helping those who lost a parent in the February 2011 quake.
- Two twilight community events featuring live music, stalls, food and children’s activities are being held at Waitakiri School River Campus in New Brighton Rd, and MacFarlane Park Neighbourhood Centre.
- At 12.51 pm many people will stop and have two minutes silence.
Three years on there is not yet an official earthquake memorial site, and there’s been disappointment about that. It’s still an idea on paper only, within the Christchurch Central City Plan, which is still going through review process.
That hasn’t stopped others expressing their thoughts in their own ways. Examples include the white chairs exhibit, which has been moved to sit opposite the CTV site. Canterbury artist Neil Dawson today (Friday 21 Feb) launched his Spires sculpture in Latimer Square, opposite the temporary cardboard Cathedral. While all these expressions are ‘temporary’ installations, this in some way is in keeping with a Christchurch that is “filling the gap” while the wheels and cogs of government slowly grind towards long-term planning decisions.
There has also been plenty of criticism for the perceived ‘neglect’ of the CTV site. (Stuff article – please build a proper quake memorial) Despite Gerry Brownlee’s assertions that an earthquake memorial is not appropriate here, as it is not the only place that people died, many agreed with the families that to do nothing seemed even more wrong. The site is now grassed and planted and is now a space where people might like to sit and reflect.
Memorials that represent a tragedy are always challenging because they are so personal. Real people died, real families are left with holes, real emotions are attached to them. And let’s face it, three years is not really long enough for time to have dampened down the tears.
Personally for me, 2014 does feel a bit more positive. Earthquake repairs to our home were mostly completed by the end of January. Even our driveway – it’s so smooth and flat it hurts my eyes!
While the city is still a disaster area, we are gaining international attention for all the great innovation and creativity that is filling our vacant spaces, including a recent mention in the New York Times in their list of top places to visit in 2014. There is hope in that.
I guess there is no right way or wrong way to remember this day. The really important thing is, to remember.