The theme on my local radio station tonight is Your Hometown. That is thought provoking for me. I miss my hometown and would love to be there this very weekend.
Like thousands of other New Zealanders and those from other countries around the world, I don’t reside in my home town. In my particular case I have been away for over 40 years, and return home occasionally. Unfortunately I have been back more for funerals and memorials than for leisure reasons.
Yes, poor old earthquake battered Christchurch City in Canterbury is my hometown. The most distinctive part of the city is ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch.
This wonderful old cathedral from the 19th century is now in the local idium “munted”, and is so badly damaged it needs replacing in part or rebuilt. There is now a campaign between the owners, the Anglican Church, and a restoration group with differing ideas. The Christchurch City Council finds itself in many ways torn between the interests of both – it wants to see the cathedral restored or rebuilt as soon as possible because it was a major tourist mecca as well. The costs could vary from $40 million to $100 million dollars.
About 75% of the CBD was destroyed or has had to be demolished. Throughout the east side of the city and the Port Hills in the southern part of the city there are areas ‘redzoned’, or unfit for restoration of houses, and buildings, private and commercial. Thousands of insurance claims have yet to be settled, and many people live in damaged houses not redzoned or in garages, sheds and cars – four and a half to five years after the major earthquakes and 12000 odd aftershocks. Many streets and infrastructure are still being repaired or restored in the East.
Of course a majority of Christchurch people may not still be directly affected directly, but tens of thousands are indirectly affected. Tourists still flock to the city, many on the way to the great tourist spots of the South Island like Queenstown, the lakes and the mountains, so well known outside of New Zealand as the Southern Alps.
Despite the damage caused to sporting and other leisure facilities, Canterbury people and others still flock to the largest city of the South Island for winter and summer sports. Christchurch will have a rugby test international this year at a rebuilt smaller stadium after the city’s main stadium was destroyed. The earthquakes prevented the city from having games at the last Rugby World Cup held in New Zealand in 2011. Christchurch an Canterbury people have and remain ‘sports mad’ – it’s all part of DNA – very much a New Zealand trait.
I have a daughter and her two sons who have lived in my hometown for a couple of years now and are becoming ‘Christchurch people’. I flew down for the younger boy’s eighth birthday in 2014. I was born and raised there and left for my domestic experience at the age of twenty years. I lived in Dunedin, Auckland and the Waikato for nearly three years, before arriving and staying permanently in the Hutt Valley area of Wellington, getting married and settling down.
Photograph by Greg O’Beirne
GFDL / Creative Commons