Friday, April 19, 2013

A tale of two cities...

My cousin Fleur and I have just spent several days in Nelson making contact with our Harris relatives and learning more about our great and great, great grandparents. A very productive, happy time.

Something I hadn't anticipated was the sheer delight in walking the streets of the inner city - Nelson looking particularly attractive with its autumn-tinted trees, hanging baskets, historic buildings, cafes spilling onto the footpaths and enticing shops. I realised (despite my sojourn last year in Holland and the UK) just how much I have missed hanging out in the Christchurch CBD - always my favourite go-to place for retail therapy since teenage years.

Yesterday I took a long-promised walk on the 'wild-side', around the ever-diminishing inner-city cordon. The walk took me up Manchester St, along Gloucester, back round Oxford Tce and down Tuam, to complete the square. What did I see and feel? Did anything surprise or shock me? 

My reaction remains one of disbelief. It still seems unreal. This puzzles me - when the evidence of the destruction wrought by quakes and subsequent demolition is so tangible. It feels too big to contemplate, too impossible to have happened in our city. Mostly I remain relatively detached and rather numb. I wonder if others feel this way...

I took photos - even although photo-taking in regard to the quakes has always felt like a subversive activity. Images of the damaged city abound but there is a need to 'personalise' the experience by selecting one's own points of reference. 

Here are some pictures that resonate...

Manchester Street

A favourite eating place for Claire and me - still standing
Inside the rose window, Holy Trinity Church
Perhaps the only view that shocked me. The Theatre Royal, facade propped up, dome protected and in-between - nothing.
Great example of the fantastic installations that have popped up around the city. Absent Theatre Royal in background.
When all around is destroyed....
My favourite. Outside a cordon checkpoint at the entrance to the Square.
Images of the cathedral have become cliched - so I focused on the (still intact) roof.
Always the little reminders of hope and support.


  1. I love the crane, and the containers holding up the wall. But my favourite is the chairs with the flowery footpath and the containers in the background. Such a neat photo.

    Welcome back AJ. :) Please don't disappear from blogsphere again. :))))

  2. So pleased you found me Socks :-)))

  3. Amen! Welcome back! I hope this means we'll be seeing more posts?
    What shocked me about your photos is that they make it crystal clear you are still rebuilding---when we hear NOTHING anymore in the news about your quake. We still hear occasional spots about Haiti's and Japan's, but never NZ's. Love that green flowered path, and the moss green sitting area.

  4. I too welcome you back .. good for you ! :) A lot of people local and from afar miss the cafes and restaurants and character we had here. You have shown 2 places where entertainment was enjoyed on stage, now open to the elements. The unfortunate thing is that it is way faster to demolish a building than create another one so although growth is occuring, its progress still looks back to front. One of the hearts on the gate looks like a red bra .. offering two kinds of support with the one garment ! :o)>

  5. Wow - I didn't expect such a welcome back!! Thank you all - very heart-warming :-) Really will have to make an effort now!

    Deb, we are mostly still demolishing - in the central city and soon in the eastern suburbs which have been abandoned. The rebuild is yet to really get underway.

    Lol PG - how right you are ;-)