‘Bumpy in Christchurch’ from Rev. Martin Stewart

 What with a continuing flow of  acquisitions and other administrative duties the blog has taken a back seat lately.  However, things now back in balance a little more we will attempt to bring you up to date with some of our happenings and news from outside the Archives.  From Christchurch, we are aware that St. Alban’s Presbyterian Church, Berwick Street, had been demolished and St. Paul’s Trinity Pacific is in the prosess of being demolished as I write.  Sadly, it is noted in the attached Press article  that the $80 000 Dome which was photographed on the ground after the quake has disappeared!

 Our first catch-up  posts is from Martin Stewart giving us an look at how things are at present.

Yesterday Anne and I delivered a few gifts to people – some money to give to a retired couple who had 23 days with no water and still have no sewerage, and some money to a young couple nearby who have young children and live in an area that is unlikely to make it into a rebuild phase (also with no sewerage!). 

We had been told that the land was shot but we wouldn’t have believed what that meant until we drove to the young couple’s home in the Avonside loop and struggled to negotiate the potholes, piles of liquefaction (still there after almost two months!) and the drains that had surfaced periodically in the middle of the road.

Most of the streets in this area had signs up – ‘residents only’.  We were there at 5.30pm – peak traffic time – but there was very little traffic – most of the houses seemed empty – there were no children – just one cat running over the road, blue portaloos every 200 metres, and an eerie silence.  It was oppressive.

Yet strangely in such an environment a lovely young woman met us at the door, and welcomed us though we had never met.  We handed over a cheque for $1000.  She was completely taken aback.  It wasn’t an everyday thing in her life!

(Let me explain the $1000: someone had gifted it asking me to convey it to someone in need who might not receive the kind of support that was being offered by the Red Cross etc – I wanted to find a stranger and bowl them over – it is the gospel way, I figure… she and her husband became the targets for this act of over-the-top grace – a king-hit from the kingdom of God – $1000 no questions asked – oh I wish I could do this every day, it is art!)

What struck Anne and I as we drove away was that this lovely woman and her family endured this oppressive environment every day – it was the landscape of their daily lives – it had become normal.  Their standard for ‘normal’ was very low.  They had no other resources to draw on to move out and find somewhere better – they were at the mercy of the people who will probably tell them that their house is fixable but the land is shot, thus they will be relocated in time to somewhere not of their choosing.

We drove through an area of at least 200 homes that will one day soon be removed from the landscape – some sort of park will replace it – there will be a lot of parks in this area – but there are people there now and our hearts go out to them.


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