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.

I had some time to kill recently, so I walked the block from NZBS down St Asaph & Colombo Streets, along Moorhouse Ave and back up Madras St. Welcome to my Workplace Neighbourhood Tiki-tour! (some pix - the blue sky ones - were taken on a previous walk a few days earlier). The photo above was taken from St Asaph St, near the Buddle Findlay offices (just before Manchester St). This new office block sits right next to the abandoned premises of McKenzie & Willis, who are still a month away from opening in a new location.
Here, this little map that I've scribbled on should help :)

Just past the shiny new Buddle Findlay building you come to Manchester Street. On the left, the former Country Theme store and the empty lot where Beverley Studios used to be; to the right is the Red Zone and utter devastation.

A little further along St Asaph, the former city council offices are visible through the Tuam St carpark.
It is quite an eerie sight that is unfortunately all too common round these parts - curtains & blinds flapping in the breeze through broken window panes.

The next intersection is Colombo Street which until recently was one of the bustling main roads leading into Cathedral Square. For now, this is as far as we can go - beyond this fence is the barren wasteland formerly known as our CBD.
Somewhere around this area^^, my mum (an accountant) was walking towards an appointment at the IRD with one of her co-workers. They both escaped with relatively minor injuries but many people died - on buses and footpaths, in buildings and in cars. It's gonna take a while for the physical and mental scars to heal for many of those who were in the CBD on the day, or who lost loved ones in there.
Heading down Colombo St towards Moorhouse Ave, there are many empty sites and cordoned-off buildings...

This part of the road has only recently been re-opened and there's hardly any traffic by car or foot, so no-one's quite gotten round to fixing up the footpaths yet.
Many shops are doing their best to trade under difficult circumstances...
South City Mall is open...
but many of the shops aren't and there's hardly anyone about... it's a weird feeling walking around this part of town.
Across the road, Smiths City are promising they'll be back...
unlike their parking building, part of which used to straddle this small street.
Around on Moorhouse Ave, the view extends a little further than it used to... this gap used to be the Smiths City carpark building and the Pak n Save stockroom.
The temporary stockroom...
Footpaths are still a bit dodgy round here too!
Across Manchester St is the former site of Lone Star restaurant - fatally damaged in the September quake.
At least the caryard on the corner has found a good use for bricks!
Further down Manchester St, on the corner of Southwark St (just down the street from Broadcasting School) is Coker's... the former bar/backpackers accommodation.

And then... back where I started from: the corner of hope & despair - otherwise known as the High St/Saint Asaph intersection. There are many people with legitimate and urgent reasons who need access inside the Red Zone, and who are becoming increasingly frustrated with the delays & stonewalling. I have friends who ran businesses there, who lived and/or worked in there and all of them are suffering. Many have had their hopes raised then dashed many times over, with promises of access being overturned at the last minute.

There are many Chch residents who also wish to have a look around so they can bid farewell to the city they knew and loved before it is all swept away by a dozer's shovel. As I've stated before, I have no desire to go anywhere that's demonstrably unsafe, and to be honest there is more than enough that is visible through the fences. I have more photos from another part of inner city Shakeytown - but that's another tale for another post.
Just over the road from the fence of discontent (which just the other day was taken back a block), there is another stellar initiative from the Gapfiller crew... this time it was a temporary bowling rink.
Alas it was all too temporary - it was already being packed away as I wandered past on the second of my two strolls around this part of town.

Oh well, those of us who still remain here are determined to carry on regardless. One sentiment that hubby and I keep hearing from those around us is that we all just have to keep muddling by, doing the best we can with whatever this stupid universe can throw at us.

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