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I just returned from a trip to New Zealand’s south island. I flew into Christchurch where I spent a day before heading out on a circuitous tour of the island.
Having seen photographs of Christchurch prior to the earthquake it was sad to see the destruction reaped by the multitude of earthquakes on not only the CBD but other areas of Christchurch. Beyond the structural damage, there was an underlying sense of tension and anxiety in the people I spoke to. It seemed that in the back of their head there was a question of when will the next earthquake strike, and how big will it be. Both the physical and psychological damage has seemingly changed the fabric of the culture in Christchurch.
Buildings are still being demolished in the CBD and whole neighbourhoods sit abandoned near the Avon River and the beach. A couple of the photographs above were taken in a small shopping centre which was completely abandoned near the New Brighton beach. The buildings in the shopping centre had cracks through them and even the car park was uneven with large cracks in it. Apparently the neighbourhoods that were abandoned were built on reclaimed marshland and were prone to large shifts during the earthquakes. So the government bought the land and houses from the people living there and is trying to figure out what to do with it. The loss of real estate hasn’t impacted too seriously on housing supply as about 40% of Christchurch residents have moved elsewhere following the quakes.
Over two years on, and people are starting to move back as rebuilding efforts are under way. The next post will go into a bit more detail about the rebuilding effort.