Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Xmas Mr M.

T’was just before Xmas and all through the city
Road cones wore tinsel and tried to look pretty.
Behind closed doors, away from prying eyes
The councillors voted on the CEO’s pay rise.

‘Market forces’ they cried, and then, ‘Competition’
Although surely they knew it was a poor rendition.
Cloistered, conceited, and out of touch with reality
Perhaps they need reminding of basic morality.

At a time when our city’s been brought to its knees
The mayor and his cronies just do as they please.
When the CEO’s salary is brought into the light
It tells a sad tale in times that are tight.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Familiar faces, new places & tiny spaces

It was a good weekend :)
Saturday night we went out to see some of our favourite Loony performers putting on three One Act plays in A Night of Theatre.
L-R: David Ladderman, Sophie Ewert, Tom Trevella

They might have been familiar faces but in order to see them, we had to go somewhere new. That's one thing about the earthquakes and their effects on various buildings - we've been to some interesting places in order to watch all kinds of performers and performances. This time we were headed to the Old Boys' Theatre at Christ's College, which seems to have withstood the quakes rather well.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

EQC phone home

This post could just as easily been called 'Dances with numbers'... as, just like the movie, the story is quite long. But I'll do my best to get to the point this side of Xmas.

A while back, EQC was doing a big promotional push to encourage people to submit the details necessary for their contents claim to be paid out. "In by October 24th, paid by Xmas", they proclaimed. Which was fine by us - the only contents claim we had submitted was for the carpets & curtains in our demolished home. The proof required by EQC (or so we thought) was the certificate of demolition, which we'd submitted after the house was bulldozed in July.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12 days of (Canterbury) Christmas

Hat tip to the CSO, who performed their version during the Cantabrian Christmas concert. (I've altered a few things to suit the photos I've taken...)


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
A visit from the EQC.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
 Two sticky doors, 
and a visit from the EQC.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do not pass go, do not collect $200

If life were like Monopoly, we'd be on our way to jail for about the fifth time, hoping it doesn't take too long to roll a double. Unfortunately there's no similar quick fix in real life, and Monopoly money won't pay the bill either.
When our house was being demolished, we thought we were doing the right thing by leaving the driveway intact. Our house planning involves an internal access garage right on that line, and it kinda made sense. It might've worked, but it seems the customer isn't always right. This building game is not one we've played before, and the playing field keeps changing - as do some of the rules.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fairy Lights fundraiser

We're a city of many colours these days, and most of us are only just finding out all the intricacies of being different shades of green. I went to the Flying Nun 30th Anniversary gigs this weekend, and all around me people were discussing the ramifications of this latest round of zonings. It's kinda funny, because little ol' C-city has always been preoccupied with zones... only they used to be school zones, not land zones. Same shit, different day really, and as a wise man once said, 'it isn't easy being green'...
It isn't easy living here fullstop. People round here don't talk about 'normal'. We've gone off the phrase 'new normal' as well because it isn't normal, and it's no longer new. Daily life can grind you down if you don't stop to smell the roses every once in a while, and appreciate the simple pleasures that still exist.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Highs & lows

Well it's been an interesting month or so... not that much of it made it onto the blog! Real life kept getting in the way of posting but I'm pleased to say that my final essay has been completed and sent off to be marked.

If life has been a bit up-&-down lately, at least the planet has been vaguely still... it's been a while since I've felt anything really noticeable in the way of shakes. But, of course, in the back of the mind is the memory that this is what it was like in mid-Feb and early-June, you know, before we got rudely reminded that fault lines rupture any time they damn well please. So, I haven't finished looking for pieces of wood to touch every time I have a conversation about a quiet earth. (edit: heh, see - one rolled through not long after typing this. Only little tho, M 3.2)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Audiovisual interlude

For your viewing/reading/listening pleasure...
...or not, as the case may be... lots of empty sites in this vid.

TVNZ7's Media7 programme was shot on location in Chch recently... click here to view. It includes a look at the CEISMIC project, being led/compiled by UC.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dude looks like a lady

I've always maintained that there's a song for everything, for every moment, and I often use them in my uni essay titles. Among others, I've used song and album titles from the likes of Blam Blam Blam (There is no depression in New Zealand), Sex Pistols (Never mind the bollocks), and Elvis Presley (All shook up). I have an article (soon to be published), about the pop music played at the 2007 Netball World Championships, that quotes the Andy Williams song, 'Music to watch girls by' in its title.

Today's song is appropriate for a number of different reasons, as it echoes a theme that has been featuring in some of my recent work.

Monday, October 31, 2011

This is not our dream home

One of our favourite TV shows is Grand Designs, and it's nice to see that host Kevin McCloud has taken an interest in our broken city (Campbell Live pre-trip interview here, Chch interview here). We've always enjoyed his take on the building process, especially his little asides to the camera during which he questions the sanity of the people involved, and the likelihood of the project being completed on time or under budget.

And it always seems that, no matter how long the delays or how big the cost overrun is, the house and its completion are of the utmost priority and it just gets done. These are grand designs after all, the dreams that people have spent years thinking up while searching for the right site, looking for the window of opportunity, or just waiting for that perfect moment when time, location and funds all come together.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Of bricks and daughters

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately... it's pretty much expected when you're a student, I suppose. But it's not always scholarly thoughts that swirl around the brain, sometimes it's that awful, unanswerable question: "what if?"

It was my mother's 60th birthday on the weekend, a birthday she may not have seen had the fickle finger of fate been pointing in her direction on February 22 this year. Walking along Colombo Street that day, my mother and her colleague were both incredibly lucky to escape with relatively minor injuries after a mountain of bricks rained down on top of them in the earthquake. My mother lost a shoe; her workmate, a pair of glasses. It could have been so much worse.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Counting up and down

For an Arts student, my life has been filled with a disproportionate amount of numbers lately. I think the only thing I haven't been counting is sheep...

In the last week I've given two presentations, one of which was filled with numbers... but I suppose, given it's a survey project, that's not exactly surprising.
Here's a graph I found in my collection, and used on the opening slide:
It's quite an early one, from September 9, 2010. Remember those days? When 395 seismic shakes seemed like a lot? I'm not saying that it wasn't - look at all those lines right next to each other - but at least it's settled down a little lately. Still, thirteen months later we're now up to about 7,600 or 8,800 quakes (depending on the source) since the time of that graph. That's a whole lot of shaking goin' on, whichever number you choose.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I don't like Mondays

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Or so it seems round here these days... I'm still not used to being able to smell the water as I raise my glass - it's just not right! Our water used to be so nice once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in some fairy story called 'normal life'. Now it's tainted, treated with smelly but necessary chemicals, just in case.

And it was strange, yesterday, to read of the water restrictions that are to start this weekend. Strange, because it was teeming down with rain (as it had all day on Monday as well), and the start of water restrictions always used to mean that we were in the grips of a drought. Not these days though, now it's because normal spring/summer water usage would overwhelm our fragile infrastructure. These water restrictions are probably going to be in place until February, and the message seems to be that if we don't behave ourselves and stick within our allocated water budget, a total outdoor watering ban will be imposed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pass the lemonade

You know what they say: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Or in this case, when earthquakes close all the venues and break the recording studios, turn those streetside jam sessions into a full-length fundraising album recorded in harbourside homes and garden sheds. (yeah I know, not quite so catchy eh!) The seismically-inspired juggernaut that is the Harbour Union has been up and down the country over the last few weeks, with a tour that kicked off at The Aurora Centre here in C-city.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We learn new things every day round here, and they're not always earthquake-related. I was on a quest the other day to understand a phobia I appear to have developed over the last 12 months... my instinctive, gut-level fear and mistrust of brick as a building material.
I wonder why?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Builder Idol

Over this whole process, there have been many times we've had occasion to think, 'there but for the grace of <insert deity here> go I'...

In January, I wandered through a couple of open homes - inner city apartments  - that turned out to be poky, overpriced and lacking in natural light, but darn they were cute! They don't look quite so cute now... I've seen some pictures on the news and they don't look nearly so purty as they used to. Not nearly so intact either...
I haven't got any pics of the building itself, but they were in this area... you can just see the end of the building (known to us old-timers as 'High Para') at the far right of this pic.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Community songbook

Sunday marked one whole year since this seismic shittery began disrupting our lives. As it was a year ago, the day was warm and sunny... although the objects at ground level don't always look the same as they did then.

Once upon a time, this was a grandstand at Addington Raceway... it's just another demo job.

The raceway is across the carpark from the CBS Arena, where I was working that evening for "Christchurch Sings" - an Arts Festival event that took place on September 4th. A crowd of over 3000 gathered to bathe in the sounds of combined local choirs, backed by the CSO. The crowd seemed to have a lovely evening - hardly anyone even noticed the aftershock we had during the concert (4.4M at 7.41pm).

Last Thursday I wandered down to Sydenham (next suburb over!) to catch a live-to-air performance by The Unfaithful Ways - one of the bands that feature on the Harbour Union album.
This is how we roll in C-city these days... this converted horse truck - the rdunit - is currently home to student radio station, rdu, who lost their studio & office when the UC Student Union building was red-stickered after February's quakes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting all scientifical

I've been collecting a few interesting links lately, and it hardly seems fair to keep them all to myself. Today's collection is largely focused on the ground beneath our feet. Of course, it could just be me (& most other locals) with a fascination for geotechnical & other scientific information...

Christchurch has become a magnet for seismologists, geoscientists and other curious earthy science folk. I'm not sure we should let Kevin Furlong back into the country though... earthquakes seem to be following him around...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Living in interesting times

Being an audio person in a visual world makes life interesting at times... For example, the easiest way to share the promotional trailer for my radio documentary on the interwebs was for it to become a video. Given that my visual editing skills are zero, it is fortunate that I could commission the talents of my digital-native teenage son to do all that image splicing stuff for me :) I must say, he coped very well with his demanding client...

In some aspects, the radio doco I've just completed is like this blog... it started out with a simple purpose but along the way it became something a bit more than that. When I started writing about the process of rebuilding of my house in early February, it was supposed to be just that - the rebuilding of my house, not thousands of houses, not the entire central city or large chunks of suburbia. Instead it became a much bigger topic, a much longer storyline. It's been over six months since I started this journey and I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be. The path that, in February at least, looked so straightforward and short has turned into the mother of all marathons that none of us have trained for.

And so it was with this documentary - a simple idea that became something bigger.

With a long history in the arts & events industries here in C-city, I know what it's like to entertain this place... or I used to. But I have plenty of friends who are still active entertainers - playing gigs, putting on shows, trying to find somewhere to have (or create) a night out. That was my plan, to go and talk to some interesting characters about the year that was, and about finding & making entertainment. My friends are musos, artists, actors, venue managers - they'd have stories to tell, right?

Oh they sure did... and those stories took me somewhere I hadn't really planned on going, but I think it's a story that needs to be told. When I was chatting with Adam McGrath, he said that "these are interesting times and I'm glad that we're living in them". I couldn't agree more...
Entertaining Shakeytown features the musings of Adam McGrath, Lindon Puffin, Darryl Cribb & Robin Judkins and is intertwined with music from Delaney Davidson, Marlon Williams, Adam McGrath, Lindon Puffin and the Harbour Union.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rinse and repeat

It's been a bit like deja-vu all over again round here lately...

In a carbon copy of July's snowstorm, we were inundated once again with massive amounts of the white stuff. Just like July it arrived on the Sunday night and carpeted the city once more in a massive white duvet (that's a doona for you Aussies). There didn't seem to be quite so many snowfolk this time around, but there were plenty of people who put in the effort, with some impressive results.
Some great snowfolk in these pictures from The Press - the Dalek is my favourite (of course!)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brickbats & Bouquets for the CCC

It's been a busy time for the council lately - for the elected councillors and their hard-working staff. Let's just say that some things are going, and being handled, better than others.

Back in July, Vbase was ready to release the engineers' reports on the battered & broken AMI stadium. The council however, had other ideas and kept the report out of the public eye for a few more weeks. Ostensibly this was to give councillors a chance to read the reports & make decisions and, as mere plebs, we can only guess as to the accuracy of this stated position. I still can't get rid of the image of Jack Nicholson shouting "You can't handle the truth!" from my head... I hope our elected officials aren't withholding information on the basis that we the people can't handle knowing the awful truth.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Timing is everything

It doesn't take long to tear down a house that stood for over 80 years... one man in a digger can get through a lot of destruction in just one day...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Temporarily yours...

There has been a temporary population explosion in Shakeytown this week - snowmen are the new garden gnomes! And way cooler too (in every sense of the word).

Here's some from round my neighbourhood...
just chillin...

Monday, July 25, 2011

The icing on the quake

Icing on the quake - it's the phrase du jour. First seen online early this morning and by lunchtime, it had spawned its own facebook page.

This snowfall is the most icing-like coating a city could have and, because the bulk of it fell overnight, when we woke up this morning it was like a big soft feather duvet had blanketed the world.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Decisions, leadership & biz101

As I lift my head briefly from a pile of academic readings (on globalisation, media & communities if you're interested), I wonder where the days have gone. It doesn't take much to figure out however... long hours working with students, reading various texts and attending lectures - which at this level are not sit-n-listen classes but more akin to (hyper)active discussions with ideas flying at a mile a minute. No wonder I'm tired!

Life continues on in Shakeytown,,, not quite so shakey these days, although there's still the odd sizable jolt to remind us it's not all over yet. People round here seem to fall into two categories - those who stay positive amidst the doom & gloom, and those for whom it's all just a bit much to deal with. Many of us flip between the two depending on the circumstances, and no matter how much we'd really like to stay in that positive group, it's not always possible.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nuthin' much

So apparently, today was Chip in for Christchurch day... not in a 'make a donation' kinda way but in a 'do something nice' for a Cantab person or business kinda way. It sounded like a lovely idea at the time, I'm sure... but did anything actually happen because of it? I saw nuthin' much different because of it although I did wear my aftersocks all day, with short trousers too so you could see them. Made a few people smile anyway :) Although that could have just been the sight of someone wearing 3/4 length pants on one of the coldest days of the year...

So what's been happening round here lately? To say "nuthin' much" would be incorrect, for it's been quite a busy week. We've signed the settlement with our insurance company and are now waiting for the paperwork to grind through the system. Hopefully it won't take as long as the decision to demolish...

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Day of Disappointing Coffee

I'm not going to write much about my recent break from Shakeytown 'cos that's not really what this blog is for... however there was one subject that I promised myself would not slide by without a decent rant.

You would think that Auckland, being the land of latte-lovers, would be an ideal place for a random coffee jaunt of a weekend, n'est pas? Think again. Allow me to elucidate on the Day of Disappointing Coffee (DoDC).

Now, you know by now that I'm an unashamed coffee snob of the worst order. I've made coffee for both love and money, and continue to practise my craft on a daily basis. I can tell by watching a barista at work whether I should be scared or grateful, and there are many brands/roasts that I stay well clear of. So by day3 of our trip, I'm sure you can imagine the dread and utter separation anxiety that had taken hold now that we were far away from the predictability & safety of our own machine.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We interrupt this holiday...

When we read in the paper that AMI was going to be contacting all their Chch customers, we just knew that they would ring while we were on holiday. Sure enough, less than an hour after arriving in Auckland, we got a phone call. As we were right in the middle of doing all the paperwork for the campervan we're hiring (oh, how middle-aged is that!), we decided to call the insurance company back the next day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


No... nothing as dire or dramatic as shifting. Well, not yet anyway. Tonight I'm packing a suitcase 'cos tomorrow me & my darling are off for a break. 10 days rest from Shakeytown and all its broken bits.

I never used to be this happy about leaving my hometown. Now that I think about it, that's a pretty sad development but one that is perhaps unavoidable - certainly understandable - given the circumstances.

Before I abandon this town (& this blog) all so briefly, I have a few things to share.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Devil is in the detail

As well as being instant geotech and seismic experts, many Shakeytown citizens are now also becoming all too familiar with the intricacies of insurance fine print. First it was the businesses in the CBD who found that business interruption insurance didn't cover inaccessibility. The insurance companies' argument was, it wasn't the earthquake that was preventing businesses from trading, it was the cordon - introduced by Civil Defense and now maintained by CERA - and that wasn't covered under the policy.

Now there's a whole lot of homeowners suddenly finding that their insurance company's interpretation of the situation is not what they expected. The issue was highlighted by Dr David Haywood, on his blog Southerly - part of the Public Address stable - and picked up by The Press and the NZ Herald. Again the argument is that it's not the earthquake that has caused the issue, it is the government's zoning of the land. As far as the insurance company is concerned if a house is repairable that is all they will pay out for, so even if the homeowner has total replacement insurance, they will only get the (2007) market value of their house at best. And, as David explains, that's not nearly enough to replace/rebuild a 1900's character villa on a new section that has to be purchased at 2011 prices. John Key seems to be aware there are problems, so maybe things will change but I think we're more likely to see people end up short-changed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Community spirit

There's been a lot of talk about community lately... with the recent focus on land reports & the government's payout offer for red zone houses, many wonderful little tight-knit groups are being highlighted in the media.

Here's Press reporter, Olivia Carville, in Seabreeze Close, Bexley.
The rum-drinking club of Arnst Place was featured twice - on Campbell Live and in The Press. Bloody marvellous way to cope with it all!
Here's another Campbell Live piece, the day of the land status/payout announcement. It features residents of Bexley, Dallington, Avondale, Kaiapoi & Kairaki Beach reacting to the Red Zone/Green Zone decisions.

One of my favourite communities however, is still in the White Zone... awaiting further assessment. They've taken a few knocks, my harbourside friends, but there has never been any doubt that the community spirit would hold fast even while the ground was swaying. Here's a tribute from a former resident, James Muir, featuring music from The Eastern.

Love in a Little Town from James Muir on Vimeo.

And one more warming moment... literally... a brilliant notion from a couple of local women, well-realised with the help of Rural Women NZ and the NZ Sock Co... Aftersocks!!

Get yours now via the website - apparently they've become quite the rage, so get in now before they're all gone. Ours are on their way :)

The patient is now at home recovering and yes, we're still smiling.
Now listen to me universe, that's not an open invitation for things to get even worse, mmkay?!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Still smiling......?

You know the old saying, 'smile, for things could be worse'...

On September 4th, when the earth first shook and part of our blue brick wall fell down, we were smiling. After all, we'd just gone through a massive seismic event and only lost part of a wall. There were people worse off than us, in Darfield and Kaiapoi, as well as Christchurch, who'd lost their homes or had massive fissures in the front lawn. We were lucky, we counted our blessings and we marvelled at our collective good fortune to have come through as a region with no loss of life.

On September 11th, when the nice structural engineer told us that our house was unsafe to occupy, we were smiling. After all, we had insurance cover for things like this, so we decamped to a Riccarton Rd motel unit with two bedrooms and a spa bath, which saw the kids sharing a room for the first time in about 14 years. We spent the next week frantically clearing out the house before anyone came round to tell us we couldn't go in there at all. There were people worse off than us after all, people who had no chance at all to retrieve possessions because their homes just completely collapsed. We sorted & boxed, we stacked & packed & looked for a place to live.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dear Mother Nature: Go the f*** to sleep!

There's a cool little project just starting up which asks quake-shaken C-city residents to write a letter to Mother Nature. Writings will be collated and used as the basis for a short film currently titled "Dear Mother Nature" - you can find out more about the project (& submit your letter) via this Films of Afternoon facebook page.

When I shared the link to my friends I borrowed the name of a hilarious recently released book, 'Go the fuck to sleep' by Adam Mansbach. To hear the original version, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson (how awesome is that?!), check out this linky here... I hope it stays up, it seems the YouTube clips are being pulled down faster than a speeding toddler.

After listening to SLJ reading this book it struck me just how similar the feelings of tiredness and exasperation are between parents of non-sleeping children, and all of us living here in Shakeytown. So here's my version... non-censored (just like the book), 'cos some words need to be said/written without any bleeping, especially when living in an active seismic zone.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday in the park

It's been a tough week... it must be true, it even says so in The Press! But it really has been one of those weird, exhausting weeks in which so much happened & life got put on hold again. Just 7 days ago I was in Hagley Park taking part in a strange little competition with a small bunch of hopeful locals. There wasn't much pre-promotion of the Grabaseat Standby event - I saw a mention in a tiny online news story via The Press, and others heard something on the radio.
 The optimistically worded press release urged everyone to get there early, as only the first 300 people could register to take part...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Retail therapy

A number of businesses have been unable to operate as normal since February's quake, among them the iconic inner city department store Ballantynes. I have a certain fondness for the store, not because I'm a regular customer (my income does not match their price tags) but because I worked there when I was in my early twenties. I flitted through a few different departments during my time - Mailorder, Ladies Underfashions, Boys Schoolwear - and learnt a lot about the social fabric of C-city from both customers and workmates.

I also worked at a few of the famous Ballantyne's Sales and saw many well-heeled ladies drop their prim & proper facade long enough to elbow their way through to the sales tables. On one memorable occasion I was on the shop floor as the doors were opened for Day 1 of the first floor sale (Ladies Fashion, Underfashions, Accessories + Childrenswear) and my jaw dropped as this horde of normally respectable adult women surged towards their destination. The few that waited for the lift were swiftly overtaken by those who simply ran up the stairs, and woe betide anyone who got in their way. Just as you should not get between a mama grizzly and her cubs, never ever get between a Merivale matron and a Bally's sale table.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Deja vu all over again

Today has been a day filled with low-flying aircraft, police sirens and plenty of shakes. This morning I headed off towards C4HQ2 to pick up some coffee beans, travelling up the newly-lumpy surface of Fitzgerald Ave and down Tuam Street which has again been hit by liquifaction. Driving down Tuam is like being on a mogul slope at times except the bumps are sand volcanoes, pouring out grey-brown sludge.

It is evident that the inner city has taken another big hit from these latest quakes... in fact, the pattern is repeated across the city. Some buildings that were already damaged have now collapsed, in some cases injuring people who were trying to save significant architectural elements like stained-glass windows.
Most places that had liquifaction in February have got it again, and a few new places as well. NZ Herald has some quake pics here, while The Press has some impressive aerial shots here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just another bouncy day in Shakeytown

Today has been a particularly shakey day, even for Shakeytown. Here's a few articles if you want all the details:
Powerful earthquakes rock Christchurch - The Press
Christchurch hit by swarm of earthquakes - NZ Herald
Cold night ahead for quake-hit Canterbury - NZ Herald
Chch residents look to quake cleanup, again - TV3

Here we go again, another clusterf*ck of seismic shittery to ruin your day, just when things seemed to be quietening down again. I know it's totally within the expected aftershock pattern but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

There's only one thing for it... time to bake some cookies. Chocolate chip ones of course - is there any other kind? I've promised darling daughter that I'll visit tomorrow with comfort food, and who knows what shops will be open in the morning. After the shakey afternoon we've had, I need some chocolate!

I tell ya something though, if these bloody aftershocks don't settle down (they're still rolling through with monotonous regularity) I may just eat the whole damn batch myself :)

EDIT: mmmmm yum! extremely large ChocChip Cookies... recipe here if you wanna indulge yourself (note: 1 stick of butter is about 100gms, temp in Celcius is about 165)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Winter of discontent

It seems whinging season is well & truly open lol... the letter I sent into The Press earlier this week appeared in this morning's edition.
Second letter on the page too... is that like second-best pic in ANTM?? :-)
Righto, enough marvelling at my published whinge, must go & cook dinner. Life - albeit strange - carries on regardless!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Get over it

A friend of mine was at a function in the North Island last week, when someone asked him how he'd been affected by the earthquake. Before he could answer, a man standing with the group groaned loudly and said "oh I'm f***ing sick of hearing about the earthquake!". Not quite knowing what to say in reply, my friend simply turned on his heel and walked away.

I guess I can understand how people elsewhere may be suffering from 'earthquake fatigue'. It's old news to them now, the crisis is past and we Cantabrians should all just get over it and move on with our lives, right?

If only it were that easy. When I talk about us living in a constantly changing environment, it's not just the ground that's in upheaval. Our business & political landscape is also in constant motion, and the implications of February's quake are yet to become clear in some areas. Our city's finances have been hugely impacted by the damage to infrastructure and the sudden loss of many income streams - this applies to individual people and businesses as well as the city council.
Many of the details - issues & suggestions - are contained in the council's draft annual plan (available here, large file = long download) which I actually sat down and read through a couple of nights ago. As a home-owner and ratepayer I don't always stay up to date with the intricacies of local government but with all that's going on at the moment (a large proportion of which directly affects me & mine), I figured it would be wise to be informed. There will be opportunities coming up very soon for us to make submissions on this draft annual plan and until this morning I was thinking about commenting on two areas that directly concern me - rates rebates & Vbase.

Earlier this year (even without a letter of demolition) we were able to satisfy the council that we qualified for a rates rebate on our house, as it was uninhabitable thanks to the September quake. That rebate ends on June 30th, which is not very far away. According to the draft annual plan, staff recommend a course of action that would see rates rebates only available to those whose homes or businesses are still behind the cordon. The rates on my uninhabitable home would go back up to 100% until such time as it was finally demolished. I know there are a million things that need fixing around here but why should owners of totally munted suburban homes bear a full rates burden? In fact, we're paying twice over - on our own dodgy dwelling, and via the rates our landlord pays on the rental property we're currently living in.

The other issue that concerns me has lead to another concerning issue. Sound circular? You bet it is. Implications of the earthquake can be slow to play out. Plans and decisions rest on other plans and decisions being made beforehand, and these things take time. Both hubby & I work for Vbase (the company that manages the 4 big venues in Chch), him full-time and me on a casual basis. With 3 of 4 venues out of action for a considerable period, it is clear that it will not be business as usual for a long time and the company has been working on new operational plans for these changed circumstances.

But Vbase is ultimately a council-owned company and as such, its operating terms and conditions are at the discretion of those who hold the purse strings. Vbase has borrowed heavily to finance the redevelopment of AMI stadium, in order to get it ready for the Rugby World Cup. The Vbase business plan has taken a hit not only from lost income opportunities and large repair bills, there have also been changes to depreciation rules which have shifted the financial goalposts.

Even before the February earthquake the council had been discussing the options for Vbase, and in the draft annual plan they recommend transferring $45million of debt to the council and leaving the business/asset structure unchanged. But in the paper this morning it seems a different intent is emerging, which raises some interesting issues. Council chief executive Tony Marryatt is advocating another option, that would see the operations of Vbase turned over to the council for an unspecified time period while the venues were repaired. This has now been confirmed by a press release.

It is possible now that we could see a large proportion of the management team & office staff gone and many other workers forced to reapply for their jobs. I'm not sure of the logic behind this decision, especially seeing as it flies counter to the recommendation in the draft annual plan... the same plan that is yet to open for consultation but was discussed behind closed doors at today's council meeting.

There's a meeting for Vbase staff on Monday, in which the management team will set out their plan for the immediate future. With the impending transfer of operations to the council, that future is very short-term indeed.

Dear city council
Your people take part in the consultative process with the hope that their voice will be heard.
After what I've seen and heard today I fear that all the decisions have been made already, against recommendations, and without anyone apart from the chief executive & the council members being able to speak for or against.

Consultation... yeah right.

Yours etc,
A concerned citizen & ripped-off ratepayer.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Montreal meanderings... from Dux to Knox (Part 2)

Another illustration today of how quickly things are changing around here, post-quake... one of the buildings featured in yesterday's post was demolished today, adding another empty lot to the landscape.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Montreal meanderings... from Dux to Knox (Part 1)

Last week I had an hour between appointments on opposite sides of the inner city wasteland. So here's another photographic tiki tour of inner city Shakeytown: a trip down Montreal Street (then onto Victoria St), past some notable landmarks... with a few empty lots & quirky sights thrown in for good measure. With so many photos, I've numbered the locations on this here map :)
My first stop was the Dux de Lux (1), and the colourful ducks that are once again decorating the fence.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Past, Present & Future

Some linky love for a change... I don't have the mental energy to write up the next CBD photo travelogue tonight and these are worth sharing :)

First, a look back to the past - Christchurch as it was not so long ago, when exchange student Lucas Kaupenjohann took more than 10,000 photos (3.5 per second) to create this timelapse movie. I love the way the effects make it look like a tiny model town. Lovely images from around C-city including Cathedral Square and the Arts Centre, plus the beachside suburb of Sumner - places that all look rather different now.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Going walkabout

I work amidst a constantly changing landscape, one in which buildings are being reduced to piles of rubble and eventually to bare lots awaiting the outcome of insurance & regulatory issues. Every time you look to the north, the leaning tower of Chch (the Hotel Grand Chancellor) looms perilously overhead.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TEDxEQChch #3: Pix (& other stuff)

In 1994 I did my first media course at NZBS... we were a mixed group of different backgrounds, interests and ages. At the end of the three months we all went our separate ways, although two of us did go on to do the radio degree course the next year. However over the last 17 years there is one guy that I've kept in touch with - not necessarily by design but via a series of random meetings.

Here in Shakeytown we like to pretend that we're a big city... we're not really, certainly not by world standards, and deep down we all know this. The standard line of thought is, if there are 6 degrees of separation around the world then in Christchurch, there are just two. Everyone seems to know someone you know, and if you move in certain artsy/creative/event circles then you'll run into the same faces reasonably frequently. As long as they're faces you enjoy seeing, this isn't a bad thing :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

TEDxEQChch #2: TED talks

Throughout the TEDx conference on Saturday we had the chance to listen to talks given at previous TED events. Each provided moments of awe and inspiration, and some humour too... like this pearler from James Howard Kunstler that had the audience in stitches at times.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

TEDxEQChch #1

As days go, Saturday was a long one. I can't remember the last time I concentrated so hard for so long on so many different and interesting speakers. The main theme of yesterday is one that's been echoing today, with the Rise Up Christchurch telethon. We will rise again, we will have a thriving city once more but it's going to take time, thoughtful consultation and pragmatic decision-making.
Aurora Centre, TEDxEQChch venue
The TEDx team did a fabulous job of organising the event and I was most impressed to see people sorting out the lunch rubbish, with all the organic & recyclable waste being diverted. Big thumbs up! Also to the guys who arranged the stage decorations - made from local earthquake rubble. 
To see more pics of the inner city rubble... check out this album from the TEDx crew...
For those who weren't at the event yesterday & couldn't catch the live stream, here's a very quick roundup from my rather brief notes...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Going up, looking down & moving on

It's been a busy week here in Shakeytown... well for me at least! Lots of writing, teaching, marking & going to appointments all over town including one out at uni, where I haven't been since February. Had things gone according to plan this year, by now I would have almost finished my two remaining honours papers and be preparing for a Masters project. Instead I've been spending my time on a different campus entirely, one that borders the red zone, with depressing vistas that consist largely of wire fences, leaning/broken buildings & soldiers on cordon duty.

So it was a nice change to be out at the university's Ilam campus, and pleasing to note that the lecture tents have been packed away. There was one reminder of the canvas town that was there until recently: the large marquee that housed the temporary cafe - InTentCity 6.3 - was still in the Law carpark.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Short term goals vs hoop dreams

Last year I took a class at UC called Presenting Sports, in which we looked at the ways in which sport is constructed for, and reported on, by the media. One of the films we discussed was Hoop Dreams, a documentary that followed two young Chicago basketball players trying to break into the big league. It is a little ironic therefore that one of my own hoop dreams got in the way of my desire to attend the Ideas Expo. There is an upside to my self-imposed, temporary withdrawal from the outside world yesterday - my conference paper is now finished & submitted. Soon I will be a published writer on how pop music helps create a carnival atmosphere at sporting events... I think I feel a specialty developing. Damn, forced to watch sports and listen to music. That could be tough ;)

However, more than 10,000 locals went along to CBS Arena to talk, listen and share ideas. There are many articles & stories about the event... here's a few:
High turnout shows Cantabrians care (includes pic of excellent 'munted' t-shirt)
Gehl Architects talk about the people
Cr Sue Wells on the day, and the day after
Dr Mark Quigley about avoiding 'wastelands', and Dr Rodd Carr on why UC won't be moving into town

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The early bird...

...gets told to bugger off. I mean, seriously... when I'm still in my dressing gown, what makes you think I'm ready to start a garage sale? And no you can't have a look around at 7.30am when all the signs/ads etc say 8.30am start.
But still, they & their ilk try it every single time. Oh well, as downsides go, that's a pretty easy one to deal with :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No shit, Sherlock

From the state-the-obvious file:
Christchurch residents the most stressed... a study confirms what most of us already knew: life in Shakeytown is stressful!

To give you an idea of what life is like around here, I recommend watching Natasha Utting's piece on "The new normal" from tonight's Campbell Live show on TV3.

From the I-need-another-button file:
Shared via Facebook: a photo album of pics from the Christchurch CBD - the part of our city that is still out of bounds to most people. This is the stuff we can't get in to view for ourselves... I'm not sure what is worse: seeing all these pictures or knowing that by the time I get close, it'll look completely different again, with piles of rubble & temporary carparks where once were thriving shops and communities.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Last one standing

The latest unemployment figures have just been released for NZ, and they show a very small decline in the number of people out of work. Well, at least on the surface... this TV3 item explains that Christchurch has been excluded from this latest survey and the local figures aren't great.

Since February's quake 858 more people have gone on the dole in Christchurch and 925 people are on an emergency earthquake benefit. There are also more than 6,000 people currently on an earthquake 'job rescue' package that is paying wages for staff of local businesses that are unable to operate.

But there is still more to it than official statistics will ever show.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fridge of the future

I love bright young minds.
I love the ideas they have, the concepts they explore.
I love that they create or envisage revolutionary things like this fridge...
based on an idea from a science fiction story...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reopenings and Reunions

The landscape is constantly changing here in Shakeytown, with the visual and economic aftershocks of February's quake. Just last week for example, I was buying my lunch at one of the area's landmark food joints - Sydenham Bakery.
They had only recently re-opened and, with access to the front of the building denied, they were trading from a temporary counter at the back of the bakery.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

To be or not to be... a refugee

I have been calling myself an earthquake refugee for months now. To me, it succinctly explains my current predicament - through no fault of my own I cannot live where I want to... my own home. Even though I currently live a mere 400 metres from the home that I own, I am still a refugee within my own city, forced to flee my home due to earthquake damage initially sustained in September.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Claim? What claim?!

Just when we thought we were making progress on our September insurance claim after several weeks of inactivity, EQC made a surprise re-appearance in our lives. We received a letter to our broken home address which started, "We confirm receipt of the claim you recently lodged with EQC. We have asked a loss adjuster to call and inspect the damage to your property and report back to the Commission..."

Um... WTF? What claim??

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love thy neighbour

It's fair to say that since February's earthquake, most Christchurch residents know their neighbours a lot better than they did before. There's a feeling of camaraderie in the air - we're now looking out for each other by doing things like checking on empty houses and having genuine, caring conversations with people that live nearby. Real communities are being established and strengthened, and people are reaching out to each other for information and support.

This morning our tribe joined with my mum and some of her neighbours for a BBQ brunch. When the kids were younger the focus of the day was firmly on the hiding and finding of easter eggs... but my two think that such childish activities are long behind them now. Which is kind of a shame really, 'cos I used to get quite a bit of pleasure from hiding the tiny chocolate eggs in strange places around my mother's garden. Still, it was nice to sit, eat & chat with family and neighbours... even if they're not my neighbours, they're my mum's neighbours and therefore part of the extended whanau. And it's kinda my neighbourhood too as I spent my teenage years in a house just up the street.

There are so many self-generated community activities happening these days. Our current neighbourhood, or our street at least, is going to have a communal garage sale next month which will be followed by a shared BBQ. I think I can find a few things for a garage sale - anyone want a piano?! Packing and shifting an entire household twice in 6 months has shown me just how much I can live without, and especially now the kids are older, there is plenty of stuff we don't need to hang onto. I predict a few heavy sighs as I sort through all the detritus we currently have in storage but it just has to go. We've even got an old Merc sitting underneath a bunch of boxes that we need to get off the section before the wreckers destroy the concrete driveway along with the house.

But even in these caring, sharing times there will be one or two people who go that little bit far... who go beyond the bounds of neighbourliness and start to become downright annoying.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The sound of chit chat

I spent significant periods of time on Saturday with two very different groups, for very different reasons and I can tell you they made very different sounds.

From mid-afternoon until around 6pm, I was working at the CBS Arena for The Wiggles concert. As always, it was a great show by the energetic Aussie performers - they were brilliant entertainers when our kids were little and they can still rock the junior crowd (& their parents) with energy that puts the rest of us to shame. And it was a great show for another reason too - after February's shake, the Wiggles donated all remaining tickets for the 3 Chch shows to local residents. Over 6000 were given away, with people waiting hours in the queue for their tickets.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Musical interlude

I've got a few quake-related music links building up so it's probably a good time to bring 'em out :)

My friends The Eastern have been keeping themselves busy making their way round the suburbs of Christchurch, playing at fairs, in vacant lots and in people's homes. Wherever they're wanted, they'll turn up and play, providing they've got a space in their schedule! Last Friday night they were playing at my friend Gazza's place... you can watch the news item from Metro News here... and then Sunday night they ended up double-booked (not a new occurance for this busy band). We headed down to the Gap to hear The Eastern that night only to be serenaded by Adam playing solo (which is also cool!) while the rest of the band continued their gig at Pomeroy's.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Benjamin Blue, QC

I've already started & binned two different posts... neither of them were particularly coming together and I know exactly why not. My world view is currently clouded by cotton wool and a build up of fluid in my cranial region.

Yep, I've got a cold. Hit me last night and has dominated my thoughts and demeanour all day long. Thank goodness for coldrex and chocolate! So instead of those other topics (which I'll get back to another day), it's time for another four-letter C word... CUTE!

Time for a kitteh interlude :)
^^The magical powahs of kitteh were powerful enough to drag home eldest child for dinner and a little one-on-one shoulder time

Sunday, April 10, 2011


If there's an upside to this whole quake sequence, it's that we're constantly learning about new things. Few of us in Shakeytown knew much about liquifaction before September, now our city provides a prime example of this phenomenon and many of us have experienced it first hand. Check out this video of a wheelbarrow experiment - liquification in action! That our land behaved in this manner did not come as a surprise to some... as far back as 1996 there was even a documentary that mentioned the dangers of liquifaction in Chch...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Random acts of normality

At long last the boil water notice for Christchurch has been lifted, which means simple things like brushing teeth and getting a glass of water just got a whole lot easier. There was another important step towards some kind of normality yesterday too - our local supermarket is almost back in action. Having been on the other side of the city for the last six months, we had been looking forward to returning to our local shops as well as our home suburb... only to find that our closest (& cheapest) supermarket was out for the count, temporarily closed along with about half of C-city's shopping malls and supermarkets.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sign of the times

At the risk of sounding slightly train-spotterish, I must 'fess up to a new fascination, an obsession almost, that has taken hold since the February quake. It's nothing to do with panic or escape plans, instead it's all about public expression.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sound and vision

With the red zone cordon being reduced in size some people have now been allowed back into buildings to retrieve personal and business items, which has lead to a couple of interesting recordings of February's quake being discovered.
First is a sound recording of an interview being conducted by an RNZ reporter at the time the quake struck.
Second is security camera footage of a central city street (via TVNZ).

There have been many other interesting videos and images that have been released over the last six weeks... here's just a few.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Now you see it, now you don't

There's a new game of hide & seek going on in Shakeytown these days... it's when you try and find where your local businesses are now trading from. It can be a hit & miss process that relies on phone calls, news items and advertisements to pin down new locations for old suppliers of goods and services. Take hubby's mechanic for example, he used to be just down the road...
Not any more! He's now operating out of a warehouse a few k's and a couple of suburbs over from his former location... but like many C-city residents we want to support our local firms and keep on giving them our business where possible. Last week hubby and I travelled in convoy over to the mechanic's new premises so the Beamer could get the attention it needed. I was grateful to be on my own during the 10minute journey because there was one stretch of road that made me go "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh" and "Awwwwwwww" many times in just a short distance.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


On the surface, you would think there would be nothing controversial about the call from New Zealander of the Year, Sir Paul Callaghan, for ex-pat student loan debtors to make a dent in the amount they owe. The logic seems pretty simple: to lighten the load on the NZ economy, we could siphon small amounts out of other country's economies through payments made by Kiwi ex-pats on their student loans. This educated diaspora collectively owe NZ $2billion for their education, with approximately 35,000 out of the 85,000 overseas-based borrowers behind on their repayments.

Many Kiwis overseas want to help and not everyone can attend a fundraising concert, rugby match or celebrity auction. Donating to the Red Cross or the Govt quake fund may seem impersonal or just not enough, so surely this is a win-win solution? Not according to two overseas-based graduates, who say that asking New Zealand's "poorest and most indebted demographic for a hand out is not appropriate". I wonder whether they have missed the point (that it's voluntary), and also forgotten that while current students may have restricted incomes, many of the graduates now working overseas certainly do not.

Sure the letter is aiming to trip the guilt glands and tug the heart-strings but if these student loan debts are not attended to, it becomes yet another financial barrier to returning home. If home is where the heart is, it is also where the need is. As Christchurch falls from the headlines, our need for support - emotional and financial - will not diminish any time soon. This is the most expensive disaster we've had to deal with as a nation, and Kiwis far and wide can play their part as our whole country deals with the enormous rebuilding project for the next few years. You can read Sir Paul's open letter at the HEKE website here... the dude's a world-leading specialist in nanotechnology and magnetic resonance, he's got an awesome brain and he's come up with a tangible and sensible suggestion that has the potential to benefit not only Cantabrians but New Zealanders both here and overseas.

And now for something completely different, a little light relief in the form of a reworked version of Tim Finn's "Fraction too much friction", a classic Kiwi song from 1983. This one has a distinctly Chch flavour...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Future tense

Today saw the announcement of the CERA - Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority - the new agency that will lead us through the sure-to-be turbulent process of demolishing & rebuilding Christchurch. There is a place called Rolleston just outside of C-city that for years has been proclaiming itself as "the town of the future"... but what will future Christchurch look like?
^^ I snapped this while walking back from the polytech campus the other day...

People used to have all sorts of grand ambitions for cities of the "future" but as yet none of us have a flying car and the domestic robot of the Jetsons is still a long way off. We can (and should) dream big for our city but it's a safe bet those dreams won't include high-rise buildings. Before the February quake there were already discussion forums and ideas sites on what to do with Christchurch... some sites, like Gardensity, existed even before the first quake on September 4th while others, like Ideas for Christchurch, have been set up in response to that event.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hello Kitteh

Yesterday was an interesting day... finally allowed onto the CPIT campus for a mandatory safety briefing which included a video tour of some campus buildings with explanations on how they behaved during the earthquake. Fascinating stuff... I now have a deeper appreciation of the old ex-Ministry of Works & other industrial buildings that make up a fair amount of the polytech. Solid as, bro!

We were allowed into one of the 3 buildings that make up our part of the campus. Unfortunately the NZBS admin block & TV block are on the other side of the street and we haven't been allowed in those two buildings yet.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Danger Will Robinson!

Playing the danger card two weeks ago was a calculated move - one that might just pay off. It's either that or my new 'Zen & the art of dealing with insurance company' mindset, but who cares, we're finally seeing some movement on the home front and this time it's not just the blue bricks.

What a difference a day makes... yesterday it felt like I had hit a brick wall and today we seem to be making progress. I actually received a phone call from my insurance company in response to my email of two weeks ago, in which I expressed concerns about the danger our house posed to our neighbours' safety. The only thing stopping the entire brick wall from coming down is a very thin sheet of metal which is really only there to keep the rain out.
^^ Our builder AJ capping the brick wall, September 2010

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Zen & the art of water boiling

The other night my husband watched me pour boiling water from the jug into a large pot (as I do many times a day) and asked me whether it wouldn't be simpler just to boil the water in the pot.
"No" I replied, "because then I'd have to pay attention".

I've settled into a certain routine about water preparation and it has its own kind of weird logic. I mean, who has time to wait and watch while a large pot of water boils? For those of us in Shakeytown lucky enough to have running water in our houses, there is a 'boil water' notice in effect. With all the pipe breakages and system issues, the quality of our city's water supply cannot currently be guaranteed so all water for consumption must be boiled first.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Feeding the addiction

I'm a coffee snob, I freely admit it... I'm a Coffee Supreme-trained barista and have also worked with Cafe L'Affare, Switch & C4 beans, and dammit I have high standards and a full-on caffiene addiction. Hubby and I feed our habit via our own commercial-grade espresso machine, a 2-group La San Marco with dark red trim. Perhaps the only upside of this whole house-destroying earthquake is that we'll have the opportunity to plumb that puppy into our new kitchen.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Can we fix it?

sure.... eventually...
On my way home today I found myself travelling down the back roads behind AMI stadium and what I saw made me stop and snap... as you do when every single neighbourhood around you has changed. Every time you drive somewhere around Shakeytown, you notice the destruction, the broken roads and buildings... nothing is the same as it used to be.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Show us your crack

Today's post is brought to you by the letter M and the number 3, and has nothing to do with windscreens.

M is for Memorial Day, a hastily arranged public holiday for the province of Canterbury complete with 2hour memorial service in Hagley Park... lined with grieving families, random dignitaries and local residents.No, I didn't go... I couldn't cope with the thought of all those people, all that traffic and the sheer earnestness of it all. I wanted to be able to dip in and out, to wander off and do something else when the prayers and the calls to God/Allah/Budda etc were going on... and boy am I glad I was able to walk away from Dame Malvina Major murdering "You'll never walk alone".

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jumping through hoops

Sometimes there is absolutely no joy in being right...
But anyways, moving right along (just like our RWC games)... yesterday I actually achieved something. Just under a month ago (it seems sooo much longer!) Mr Earthquake Minister, Gerry Brownlee, announced a rental assistance package for those displaced by the Canterbury earthquake which would kick in after their insurance cover ran out. We've been only too aware of the impending end to our insurance-paid rent and had already secured a cheaper rental property to move into before this package was announced, and before Feb 22 shook everything up.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heads you win, tails I lose

A friend came to visit me today and, as often happens, the talk turned to whether Shakeytown would be hosting any Rugby World Cup matches this year. Disclaimer: I have a vested interest in the Chch RWC matches as I was supposed to working at the stadium, in the stands, for each of the games. As well as working at the event, my ideas for further post-graduate studies had been based around the media coverage of the RWC matches and the sports tourists' experiences in Chch post-quake. I'd already been collecting newspapers and documenting the state of the city as it worked to recover from the September quake...
^^ the RWC countdown timer in Cathedral Square, Dec 9th, 2010.

Monday, March 14, 2011

from Wellington, with love

So we ran away to Wellington for a couple of nights, just to escape the insanity of Shakeytown. Not that we could truly leave it all behind for the Christchurch quake was the topic of conversation all over the city during our visit... well, until that Saturday night when the massive earthquake and tidal wave hit northern Japan. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones and livelihoods over there. Even before the Japan quake, we have been constantly reminding ourselves that we've been lucky. The phrase that keeps popping into our heads is "We don't know how lucky we are"...

We're also lucky in that we're surrounded by a generous well-meaning country, with local communities as well as ex-pats around the globe getting involved with fundraising events and organising vital supplies. There have been charity sports matches between NZ & Aus Golden Oldies rugby teams, a Legends of League game and a star-studded cricket match at the Basin Reserve.