Photographer's Note

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...


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Additional Photos by Klaudio Branko Dadich (daddo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3580 W: 114 N: 6323] (28618)
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