Tag Archives: Christchurch

Home again

As I wrote the title of this post I thought of that old nursery rhyme:

“To market, to market to buy a fat pig;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

To market, to market, to buy a plum cake;
Home again, home again, market is late.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun;
Home again, home again, market is done.

To market, to market, a gallop a trot,
To buy some meat to put in the pot;
Three pence a quarter, a groat a side,
If it hadn’t been killed it must have died”

Is it one that you knew as you were growing up?  Note three pence is three pennies and there were twenty pennies to the pound twelve pennies to a shilling and twenty shillings to a pound;***a groat is an old coin from the days of Edward I of England and was worth four pennies.   How times have changed!
***Thanks to my big sister in California for pointing out this error.

Anyway, back to the post.  I returned home from the Golden Door in the early hours of Monday morning and immediately got stuck with an awful head cold, coughing and sneezing my way through the next few days.  So sorry, the thought of writing a blog and even reading any of yours was way beyond me.

A funny thing happened on the way home (no not on the way to the theatre).  I picked up my suitcase and placed it on a trolley.  I was waved though customs and immigration they didn’t even x-ray my bag (but they did my friend’s) and then we  went out to the concourse where we were being picked up by another friend.  So the bag was transferred from the trolley into his car and we went to his house for the night.  However, and this is the point now, when we arrived we found that the wheels had gone from the base of the bag.  How could such a thing happen?  So the next day, coughing and sneezing we went back to the airport with bag as instructed, and found an absolutely charming young lady who took all the details and my bag and informed me that if it couldn’t be repaired they would provide a replacement.  So here is a big round of applause for Virgin Australia who really mean it when they say that they care about their customers.


I have so much to share with you following my seven days at The Golden Door but before I do so I have to ask you to bear with me while I read the 900 plus emails that were awaiting me on my return – of that number at least 800 were new posts from fellow bloggers.  So I am currently catching up on my reading.

Also I am about to change internet providers so I hope to read all of these blogs, and those that have come in today before the changeover on Tuesday, otherwise I think I will lose them all.  So please bear with me.

And today’s news from our corner of the world…Christchurch is still living through continuing, and quite large aftershocks from the earlier earthquake and has now been hit with a freezing cold snap.  In fact it has been reported that yesterday was the coldest day in Christchurch in 130 years; the temperatures hovered between 0 deg Celsius and 1 degree.  Very chilly.  Adding to the problems  some houses were without electricity overnight.  Apparently the heavy fall of snow landing on boughs of trees pulled the boughs onto the power lines.  Another good reason for all power lines to be underground.

The badly damaged Christchurch Cathedral is subject to demolition. Today it was covered in snow.
Picture from The Press, Christchurch June 7/12


One Year On

Today in New Zealand, there is only one thing uppermost in everybody’s mind.  Christchurch and the big one.

Map of New Zealand

On February 22 2011 at 12.51 pm a devastating 6.3 earthquake shook Christchurch, killing 185 people and bringing chaos to NZ second largest city.

Today around the country and around the world, services and memorials are being held to mark this day and to pay tribute to those who lost their lives but also to those who made a difference – emergency workers, medical personnel, first responders, police etc.

Of course, all newspapers in New Zealand are carrying the quake as headline stories  Here’s what our Wellington papers the Dominion Post has to say:

“Today is a day for remembering. It is also a day for learning.

It is a day for remembering the students, office workers and passers-by who lost their lives when Christchurch was struck by New Zealand’s worst natural disaster since the 1931 Napier earthquake.

It is a day to remember the courage of medical professionals and ordinary citizens who risked their lives to help survivors trapped in precariously balanced rubble.

It is a day to acknowledge the forbearance of Christchurch’s inhabitants. It is a day to remember the search and rescue teams that came from Japan, Australia, the United States, Taiwan, Great Britain and Singapore to help search for survivors.

And it is a day to learn the lessons of February 22, 2011. New Zealand sits atop the boundary of two major tectonic plates  the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate. Earthquakes are inevitable. The only uncertainty is when and where they will occur.

In Christchurch people died needlessly in some cases because buildings failed to cope with stresses they were supposed to be able to withstand, in others because unreinforced masonry buildings damaged by the September 4 quake that preceded February 22 were allowed to stand despite presenting an increased risk to the public and in yet others because of the narrow brief given to engineers.

Instead of being asked whether buildings were safe to occupy, they were asked whether buildings had been structurally weakened by the earlier quake.

For some, the difference between a few words proved the difference between life and death. Cost and the preservation of historic buildings were put above public safety.

The tension between cost and safety is not unique to Christchurch. Here in the capital, the Wellington City Council estimates there are about 435 “earthquake-prone” unreinforced masonry buildings.

Another 350 buildings, built between 1940 and 1979, are classified as “earthquake risk”. To bring both groups up to 67 per cent of the standard for new buildings would cost close to $2.5 billion.

Plainly, that is unaffordable. Building owners have to be able to recoup expenditure through rents. Older buildings, no matter how structurally sound, are not going to generate the same returns as modern, purpose-built premises.

However, doing nothing is not an option either. Hard decisions have to be made and they have to be made soon. There is no telling when an earthquake will strike Wellington.

Some older buildings should be strengthened to preserve the character of the city. Others must be demolished because of the hazard they present, not just to occupants, but to passers-by.

With judicious planning what springs up in their wake can be just as much an adornment to the city as what was knocked down.

The Christchurch quakes were unexpected. Before the first quake struck seismologists were unaware of the faultline that lay buried beneath the city. The same cannot be said of Wellington.

A big one is coming. When it arrives we must be ready.”

Christchurch Cathedral after 22.02.11

Christchurch Cathedral is probably the most recognisable iconic building in Christchurch and there is strong resolve to rebuild a Cathedral in the City’s centre if the land is found to be stable.

Pause and Reflect

New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.
Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  ~Mark Twain

New Year’s Eve in Wellington wasn’t so much a damp squid as a soaking wet one.  The usual celebratory fireworks display on the waterfront was cancelled because of the atrocious weather we have been having over the past few days.

But here in NZ we are not surprised that the summer lasted only a few days in fact three in total – 23, 24 and 25 December.  Then the rain set in.   And it has rained here in the capital ever since.

This year has seen many things happening to our small nation on the far side of the world.

Map of New Zealand

In February we had an earthquake in Christchurch of 6.3 magnitude on the Richter scale.  This earthquake killed 181 people and caused widespread damage to an area that was already devastated in the September 2010 earthquake.  This quake has been followed by regular quakes in the months since.

In May a tornado hit the Auckland region – a very brief burst but causing spectacular damage.

In June two more earthquakes hit the Christchurch region.  The result of these earthquakes is that many buildings have been deemed unsafe and many of the historic buildings that made up the city centre will have to be destroyed.

Residents of some parts of the city were just getting used to the idea that they may have to leave their homes, while some lucky (?) ones were told they could stay when a 5.8 magnitude quake hit them on December 23rd.

On December 14, the Nelson region (about 255 miles/159 kms from Christchurch) was hit with flash flooding causing a multi-million  dollar trail of damage and having people evacuated from their homes.  This was followed with more torrential rain causing more flooding on December 28.

Mother nature’s violent farewell to 2011 wasn’t restricted to the rain. Christchurch residents were battered by three large aftershocks, including a magnitude 4.8 quake 10km northeast of Lyttelton at 1.44pm on December 31.

Of course these happenings fade into insignificance compared to the damage and destruction Mother Nature has caused around the world.  Floods, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes.  So the prize for the most active member of the community in 2011 must go to Mother Nature.

And we must ask ourselves what are we doing to this earth of ours that has caused these things to happen in the past year.  May 2012 bring a more peaceful and settled year for everybody living on this crowded planet of ours.

Wild weather

Angry Mother Nature

The Godwits Are Here

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.” ~ William Blake (1757-1827)

Godwits en route

Photo by Bob Gill.

We know it’s spring here when the first Bar-tailed Godwits appear in the South Island.  The Bar-tailed Godwit is the holder of the longest non-stop flight by birds covering about 11,000 km from Alaska to New Zealand. And then at the end of our summer, they do the return flight, another 11,000 km back to Alaska to breed.

In preparation for this long, non-stop flight to New Zealand, that can take as many as 10 days, the birds stock up on fat during the early fall in Alaska.  They use their pencil-thin bills to gorge on tiny clams, the size of a fingernail, found in the mudflats of south-west Alaska.

They put on so much fat that their body shape is totally changed before they start their journey and according to Bob Gill, who studies shorebirds at the USGS Science Centre in Anchorage, “They probably use all of that fat and then burn protein (muscle) for added energy.”

Gill and his counterparts in New Zealand and Australia, have been tracking the flights of these birds for several years.  They have proved that the birds make their migratory flights without stopping as in an experiment two years ago, they implanted satellite transmitters into several of the birds.   And they say that no other creature has ever demonstrated such a feat of endurance.  Read more about these birds at the Alaska Science Forum

Christchurch Cathedral Before 22.02.11

Christchurch Cathedral after 22.02.11

Christchurch Cathedral on 22.02.11

Traditionally, when the birds are first seen in the South Island of New Zealand, usually in the second or third week of September, the bells of Christchurch Cathedral ring out to welcome them.  However, because of the major earthquake in February, the bells are out of commission and this year the bells of another church in Christchurch were rung.

So the headlines in the Christchurch Press today read The arrival of the  Godwits in Christchurch has been marked by the bells of St Paul’s Anglican Church this year.”

The organiser of the bell-ringing at St Paul’s, Bill Thew, says the church’s bells are similar to those at the cathedral and it takes eight people to toll them. He also said that the church had suffered some damage in the earthquake but the bell tower is unscathed.

As an aside, does Sarah Palin claim the Godwits as part of her constituency of voters?

At about the same time that the Godwits were seen, another visitor was arriving some 360 km to the south.  And the bells rang out in Dunedin, marking the arrival of a Royal Albatross (tagged and named Rob ) at the world’s only mainland breeding colony at Taiaroa Head.

It was the second year running that Rob was the first springtime arrival.

“After spending almost a year at sea and with most birds circumnavigating the southern hemisphere in that time, arriving back to Taiaroa Head within a few days of their previous arrival date often astounds me,” Department of Conservation ranger Lyndon Perriman told the Otago Daily Times newspaper.












I Hope You Never Take One Single Breath For Granted….

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”
-Aldous Huxley,  1894 – 1963, English writer.

Standing in the shower today with the water cascading over this body I thought about how often we take things for granted.  I know that when I turn on the shower the water will spew forth.  When I turn on the stove the gas will light, the kettle will boil when I fill it with water and switch it on and the lavatory will flush.

Portaloos in Christchurch - NZPA

Following the February earthquake in Christchurch many homes were without water and operational lavatories and so the City Council imported thousands of portaloos that they positioned in various places around the city and outskirts.  I had thought originally, that each individual house had one.  But obviously this was not so as we read ”  Meanwhile the city council has issued “some tips on toilet etiquette to help ease the situation” -Be tolerant -Think of your neighbors – leave the loo how you would like to find it……”

Power was reinstated to most homes affected within a short time but some houses have been without running water now for 13 weeks.  They are still being advised to boil all drinking water before use.

We hear almost daily, of further after shocks some in the region of 5 on the Richter scale.  How scary must it be to live there and it is made more uncomfortable to many because of the lack of running water and operational sewers.

So today I am looking at the things we take for granted and making a real effort to imagine living without them.

Here’s a Max Lucado  quote that I particularly like :

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.” 


Judith Baxter, EzineArticles.com Platinum Author
MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected