I have just returned from my trip by car across the south island of New Zealand, the first point of contact being the city of Christchurch. I had mixed feelings about going to Christchurch, being much aware of the terrible damage that the Earthquake in 2011 caused to that city structurally, emotionally and in terms of lives lost.
What I found there was the indomitable New Zealand spirit as rebuilding was to be seen everywhere and innovative, temporary structures emerged here and there so that the people could have some sense of normalcy.
What I found moving was the cheerfulness and friendliness of the people and the sense of community and optimism. This sense was reaffirmed in the ubiquitous murals and street art which exhorted the people to think positively, to overcome adversity and to rebuild their much loved city.
I shall endeavour to convey some of this spirit through some of the many photos I took whilst there.
I recommend that you read the article in full, part of which I am posting here. It was written by Charles Anderson for The Guardian.
Christchurch: after the earthquake, a city rebuilt in whose image?
New Zealand's second largest city was struck by disaster in February 2011 – and debate still rages as to whether it should ape its old character or develop a new one.
Christchurch's Catholic basilica has remained closed since the 2011 earthquake. Whether it will be restored or demolished is yet to be decided.
A recent international visitor to New Zealand's second largest city asked Coralie Winn why there were so many diggers in its centre tearing down buildings. It seemed they had little notion that less than three years earlier, Christchurch had endured a series of earthquakes that destroyed the city's infrastructure, homes and communities.
The most violent quake, on 22 February 2011, killed 181 people. Thousands more were made homeless, and an area more than four times the size of London's Hyde Park was deemed uninhabitable. Less than three years on, the diggers that rattle about Christchurch's gridded streets are a constant reminder of how far there is to go to recreate what was once there. "People don't comprehend," Winn said. "Rebuilding a city is complicated."
In the wake of the earthquake, Winn helped found an organization devoted to creatively inhabiting the vacant gaps where those buildings once stood. Gaps are expected to keep opening up for at least another five years, as 70%of the central business district's (CBD) buildings come down.
Many locals cannot remember what the central city used to look like. Gravel quadrants have replaced multi-storey buildings, creating lines of sight through the city that never existed before. Many of the buildings that still stand are boarded up, with steel fencing around them as they wait to be sold or demolished. The main strip of bars and restaurants that lined the river, and was the site of the city's main entertainment hub, is now an empty lot.
A man rides past a destroyed church in Christchurch, after the quake, in 2011.
Until recently, you could look through the dusty windows of a closed down cafe and still see an untouched 22 February 2011 edition of the local newspaper. And while creative novelties such as a retail mall made entirely out of steel shipping containers draw increasing numbers of visitors, the city's other main attraction is the battered and broken cathedral in the middle of the main square – a monument to what was endured...
PLEASE SEE WORKSHOP FOR A WIDER PERSPECTIVE OF THIS EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED AREA.
Critiques | Translate
batalay (36493) 2014-04-05 1:40
A superb note complements this package. The mural/graffiti appears as the focal point of the photo, although I cannot quite comprehend its message.
Antipodean (1658) 2014-04-05 2:31
Kia ora Klaudio,
A great shot which portrays the spitir of Christchurch. I have visited the city several times since the earthquake & had an American groups in the city between the two earthquakes, so have seen many changes. It was a city I knew well (I use the past tense now)but it is interesting seeing the re-construction. The two cathedrals have now gone but the temporary 'cardboard' cathedral is interesting - I posted a photo of this several months back. I've not seen this mural - looks great! Cheers, Neil
cargus (9081) 2014-04-05 9:32
Interesting image, good balance between light and color, image sharpness highlight the picture well done..!!
lousat (81112) 2014-04-05 15:01
Ciao Kluadio,forse il WS era meglio non metterlo..ehhee..mi ha fatto perdere un po' di entusiasmo,la foto nella gallery č un bellissimo catch-eye,comunque č un simbolo della forza e della volontŕ di questo popolo di ricostruire immediatamente dopo il terremoto,e non aspettare la manna dal cielo come accade da noi al sud...ehhe....buona Domenica e complimenti,Luciano
ktanska (25505) 2014-04-06 2:30
I think your note is essential on understanding what this image is about. It looks like an abandoned lot maybe on some industrial quarter. But usually graffities around such neighbourhoods would have no signs of artistry.
So this is a place destroyed by the earthquake, waiting for a rebuilding. Graffiti shows weird humour and maybe optimistic spirit, though I don't really understand it. And this location could actually be pretty central too.
dekanski (3916) 2014-04-06 13:52
Baš sam se pitao zašto te nema. Mogu samo da ti zavidim na putu, i očekujem zanimljivije fotografije od ove. Neću da kažem da je ova nezanimljiva, naprotiv - odlična kompozicija i lepa nota!
kasianowak (7409) 2014-04-07 2:33
Great post - a powerful reminder of the 2011 tragedy. It really brought home to me New Zealand is not just about pretty landscapes. Thank you for sharing this work and the informative note.
kato (11630) 2014-04-07 7:36
Hi dear Klaudio,
You're capturing well this place by a good angle and very excellent tone/clarity, so it's interesting and impressive to see the rebuilding architecture and colorful/original graffiti on wall. I know that there are many earthquakes in New Zealand by volcanic topography and the big damage of the Earthquake in 2011. I feel man's dignity for the New Zealand people who are going to overcome sadness and are going to be optimistically alive. Anyway, this graffiti is trying to hand down the fear of a disaster to future generations?