Local Heart, Global Soul

April 11, 2018

Landslip Debris And Repairs…

The road to Kaikoura looks rather different after the November 11th 2016 earthquake. Road works everywhere cleaning up debris and repairing damage. After just over a full year of closure State Highway One between Christchurch and Picton is finally open. Like the work, this blog continues…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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October 2, 2012

Please Whisper to Me That Rescue Might be Possible…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christchurch’s Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament stands close to the intersection of  Barbadoes street and Moorhouse Avenue , located just within the original “Four Avenues”area of the original historic city.

Also known as the  “Christchurch Basilica”,  this beautiful building designed by architect Francis Petre is one of the city’s most popular local landmarks.

Although I have faith, I am not a Catholic, but had the privilege of attending services there on a number of occasions because I had a  Catholic  boyfriend at the time.

We had been both attending a more evangelical church when we met but he said he felt more comfortable  in the Catholic church so decided to become a Catholic and he asked me to come to services with him, which I did.

I have to confess that the building is so fascinating and the  interior so stunning that  I spent more time looking at the architecture than listening to the sermons.

It is also the reason why I accepted an  invitation one day to take a tour of the Cathedral  (with the permission of the priest) after the church service had ended:  we went up into the massive dome at the back of the Cathedral where there was a whispering gallery.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The acoustics were so amazing that  when my boyfriend whispered close to the wall  on one side of the dome, I could hear him far away on the other side of the dome,  the experience made such an impression that I still rate it as one of the most amazing and impressive experiences I have ever had.

I’d go as far as to say that this is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful buildings.

The relationship didn’t last because I was happy with my Protestant faith and didn’t want to convert to Catholicism, but we stayed very good friends for a long time afterwards and out of all our friends, I was the only one he  asked to attend his Confirmation Ceremony, which I was honoured to do.

Eventually he got a job offer that took him out of the city and we lost touch, but every time I went past the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament,  I would smile as fond memories came back.

Eventually I too moved away from the city and came to live in the Netherlands and found myself back in the  Basilica on just one occasion when back on holiday in the intervening years, attending a Christmas Mass with a friend.

Then came the Earthquakes of 4 September 2010, the aftershocks and then the 22 February quake… and a heartbreaking image: Although I saw this image in The Christchurch Press Newspaper, I can’t seem to find it back there now, but after some searching this is the same image I saw when I looked at the news…

http://apriestdownunder.com/2011/02/24/catholic-cathedral-of-the-blessed-sacrament-christchurch/ 

My heart sank, this stunning building ripped apart. Whilst I am truly thankful that no one lost their life in the Cathedral  I can say this this is a building I will really miss if it can’t be saved.

In the meantime it’s fate hangs in the balance… first the massive copper dome will be removed (that’s now been done) to relieve the stress on the building and so that the structure becomes safer for further inspection. The Catholic church have made it clear that they will not be rushing into any decisions regarding it’s fate… and that they want to weigh up all options first before any decisions become final.

This is a very good thing, most people agree… hopefully this stunning building can be repaired, strengthened and saved. This newspaper article has a short video of the dome and the damage around it after the quake:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/4967259/Birds-eye-view-of-Basilica

What this beautiful building looked like before the earthquakes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_the_Blessed_Sacrament,_Christchurch

On this January day I see that rubble is being cleared, I think that the building next door being demolished is the Music School… the Cathedral looks forlorn with the front towers decimated and the rear dome now removed. Who knows what the future will bring, I can only hope that one day the amazing whispering gallery can be restored. For now my whisper is “I hope this place of beauty and happy memories can be rescued”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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September 30, 2012

Attending the Funeral of a Building I loved…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My New Zealand Driving Licence is about to expire so  we came to Sydenham to the Automobile Association to renew it.

Unfortunately I need a copy of our city council rate payments, or bank statement etc as proof that I am still eligible for my licence and since we own property in Christchurch providing the required documents aren’t a problem, if only we had remembered to bring said documentation with us.

On the first occasion we didn’t have time to go back to the north side of the city to retrieve the paperwork because we  had a lunch appointment to go to in Hoon Hay,  but I noticed the Old Sydenham Post Office in a very sorry state and quickly snapped a few photographs as we went by.

I’m devastated to see it so broken and damaged, and  hope that the bracing I’m seeing means that a repair might be possible,but when I look at the photographs on the computer that evening, I notice that the roof tiles have all been removed… and get an ominous feeling that that’s not a good sign.

The Old Sydenham Post Office is a  well known and loved landmark,  a beautiful historic building from about 1911 that was turned into a restaurant in 1993. I do know that at the very beginning of the building’s life that there was a clock tower on the Colombo & Brougham Street corner of the building but that was removed I think in the 1940’s.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Later, whilst running errands we pass the building again and the awful feeling I had is confirmed, it’s in the process of being demolished.

After our visit to the Sydenham Bakery just down the road I get Himself to pull over so that I can take photos of the demolition process. It’s a sad moment, but unlike many of the heritage buildings in the city I at least get the chance to catch a glimpse of the building’s former glory and say a quiet goodbye.

When I’m next in Christchurch again so many of these beautiful historical remnants will already be long gone, replaced with new builds or still just gaps in the urban landscape, with only the ghostly images of their existence  imprinted in the memories of those who knew them well.

I can only liken this experience to attending a funeral… gone is the moment when the individual can be saved, all you can do now is to morn the passing,  remember the beauty and the good times and say the necessary goodbyes in your heart.

I picked up a small piece of rubble that was within finger’s reach inside the wire safety fence and put it in my pocket. It’s now residing in a little jar at home in the Netherlands … a little non-descript  lump to most, but with a strange sentimental value to me, a tiny connection to the past I once knew.

I’m lucky to be here today, it’s clear from the speed of the work that everything will be gone very soon and I almost missed it. There are quite a lot of photos, but this is a once chance photographic opportunity only,  the place is quite literally disappearing by the minute.

The building might be soon gone but I can only hope that the memory will live on and that a new heritage might be built that later generations can also fall in love with and treasure.  Old Sydenham Post Office… R.I.P.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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September 27, 2012

Visible Reminders of the Days Life Changed Forever…

Filed under: HISTORY,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For all Christchurch homes and businesses, life changed forever on 4th September 2010 when an earthquake that measured 7.1 on the Richter scale hit just outside the city.

Luckily damage to the Sydenham Bakery was limited and they learned to live with the aftershocks that continued in the following months but nothing could have prepared anyone in the region for the horrific events of 22nd February 2011 when just after lunch a 6.3 quake hit the bulls-eye with an epicentre almost exactly on the city centre.

Although there were luckily no fatalities in the bakery and all staff and customers were safely evacuated, the building needed to be structurally checked and repaired and so baking was temporarily suspended whilst the building underwent emergency repairs. From what I understand a large part of Colombo Street was also cordoned off because of damage or collapse of many nearby buildings the the bakery was not publicly accessible by the front entrance.

The Sydenham Bakery was quickly back on it’s feet, trading from a temporary shop “front” from the rear of the premises and even with the problems of assess and constant aftershocks, I heard from friends and read on message boards from Christchurch residents that all businesses who managed to take this kind of action were hugely, massively and deeply appreciated.
It wasn’t just that fact that people were relieved that their favourite places were back trading and in business, it was also the underlying reassurance that these businesses were here to stay, that they were in it for the long haul and were not going to abandon the city.

It was also a sign that “normal life” might just be around the corner…  everywhere people looked, there was damage and destruction, seeing businesses working hard to bounce back as soon as possible meant people keeping their jobs, it meant hope and reassurance like a light at the end of the tunnel that “normal”  might be actually be possible again.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For many in Christchurch and for Kiwi’s everywhere, these events signalled the days that life as we knew it changed forever. Like the Sydenham Bakery machinery, we all have scars of some sort or another, but we pick ourselves up and carry on.

That sentiment, and the gratitude for it has been a reoccurring theme that I’ve heard a lot when speaking to friends and family in Christchurch this trip, so clearly it means as much to them as it does to me.

Celia said that most of the quake damage is no longer visible, the bakery floor was completely re-done because of cracks and liquefaction damage,  but everyone worked long hours to make sure they were back on track as soon as possible.

She showed me their pastry rolling machine… it’s a massive piece of kit and clearly exceedingly heavy, but the February quake heaved it back and forward with ease, leaving scars where it hit the wall at one end and a large dent in the end of the roller bed where it connected repeatedly with a thick metal pipe at the other.

It’s a shocking reminder that even if we perceive our man-made machinery to be solid and strong,  they are  no match for the forces of Mother Nature.

Given too that the quake was big enough to push something this big around with ease,  it then becomes a wonder that more people were not killed or injured in that quake.  The strong New Zealand building code and a healthy dose of sheer luck all have a role to play there in my opinion.

And another thing… a machine that rolls pastry!!! Ooooh I soooooo want one!

Forget shoes and handbags, this is the kind of toy I’d have on my wish list! (sadly for me we live way too far away so I’ll have to stick to my humble wooden rolling pin… but  oh, a gal can dream !)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 31, 2012

Rebuilding In Style…

Filed under: HISTORY,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In 1931 Napier city in New Zealand was faced with a huge rebuilding project after a massive earthquake levelled block after block of the city centre and fires wiped out an entire district.

There was a world-wide economic Depression and  times were tough. but as often happens after natural disasters, people pulled together to make things happen.

The website of the New Zealand Encyclopaedia   http://www.teara.govt.nz/en tells us:

“Napier’s new town centre boasted many improvements, including wider streets and some of New Zealand’s earliest underground power and telephone lines.

The loss of life caused by the collapse of so many buildings shocked the country.

Engineers studied the building damage to identify the most dangerous defects in design and construction.

A Buildings Regulations Committee developed guidelines to ensure the new buildings were safer; their recommendations were the forerunner of building codes now used throughout New Zealand.

Four rival architectural practices joined to share resources and ideas. The buildings of Louis Hay reflected the designs of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Natusch & Sons’ buildings were simple in style, often using arched windows, and Finch & Westerholm produced many Spanish mission style buildings.

Most popular was the art deco style of the time, which emphasised spare, clean lines and geometric motifs.

E. A. Williams designed some of Napier’s most striking art deco buildings.

Their austere modernistic design contrasted sharply with the ornate edifices that had caused so many deaths. “

At the time of the Napier rebuild, the term “Art Deco” had not yet been coined. It was just a style that happened to be in vogue at the time, and it suited Napier because of the contrast with the old building style and helped people move on from their bad memories of what had happened.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As with most fashions, the world-wide preference for this style waned with time but by then Napier was left with brand new Deco style building and no cash left to change with the new fashion so their deco building stayed intact.

In the next decades some of the deco buildings were not always particularly well kept and fell into various states of  disrepair but in 1985  some people realised that with these buildings they had a hidden gem on their doorstep and so a meeting was called for interested parties to make something of the cities heritage.

This came about because of the following event … (I think I have remembered this story correctly from the tour guide, but  stupidly  I didn’t write a note about it at the time so I stand corrected if I’m not quite up with the facts )

Apparently a developer knocked down one of the deco buildings (late 1970’s or early 1980’s) in order to build something in a newer style… something went wrong when he was on the demolition site and the Deco building he was destroying killed him… (justice?)

When another Deco building was earmarked for demolition a short while afterwards a few passionate residents realised that this progression could mean the end of their Art Deco heritage buildings and wanted to take action.

Organisers had low expectations of a response  but hoped at least for a few passionate people who could form a team to raise awareness. To their amazement  1100 people turned up and the transformation of the fortunes of the Deco buildings was born with the formation of the Art Deco Trust.

Once people saw that their buildings were special and could become a tourist attraction for the community, they began to take pride again in their buildings.  Over subsequent decades the Deco Trust has gone from strength to strength and owners regularly compete to see who has the most beautifully  kept and decorated building.

The Deco buildings are now safe from demolition after being nominated in 2007 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the city boasts the title of being the world’s most consistently Art Deco city.

Let’s go see what looks like…

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March 30, 2012

Barton and Campbell… Tin Town and Tough Shoes To Fill…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As you’ve gathered by now this appears by co-incidence and circumstance to be fast becoming an earthquake themed holiday. When we visited Napier was tremour free and calm for us but Mother Nature still puts out a few magnitude 5’s every year which keep the locals on their toes.

Christchurch of course is still enduring aftershocks …and decent sized ones too. Their subsequent earth wobbles have passed 10.000 in number and compared to Napier’s total of about 500 aftershocks, it’s clear to see why the de-building  (yes, I just made up a new word) and rebuilding process is taking so long down South.

All buildings in Christchurch have be checked over by structural engineers after every larger aftershock to check that it’s safe for work to continue, and as New Zealand’s second biggest city, there are many more buildings filling the Christchurch city center and Napier had no many-storied high-rises to dismantle.

Napier’s fires turned much of the debris into ash, Christchurch had to haul it’s  debris away, seperating recyclables from landfill and salvaging what it can.

Back in Napier though…  in 1931 there were  standard insurance policies for fire, storm damage and floods but only one canny Scot who owned businesses in Napier had had the forsight to have the word ‘earthquake” added to his insurance policy, so in the aftermath of the quake he got paid out and was first to get started on rebuilding his businesses.

The rest of the business owners faced financial ruin because most insurers deemed the fires to be quake damage and refused to pay out.

The New Zealand Government appointed a magistrate (Mr. J.S. Barton) and an engineer (Mr. L.B. Campbell) to be Napier comissioners and together they oversaw various committees tasked with  Napier’s reconstruction.

These two men turned out to be the right people, in tne right place, at the right time because together they efficiently supervised speedy restoration of water, sewerage, replacment of land titles (lost in the fires) and the resurvey of every property in the affected region.

In spite of the hashness of the depression years much of the money for the recovery was due to charitable donations that flooded in from fellow Kiwi’s around New Zealand.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Barton and Campbell also realised that a very speedy solution was needed if local business were to have any chance of surviving until their premisses could be rebuilt,  so they authorised the building of what was essentully a large temporary warehouse in Clive Square, a short distance from Napier’s city centre.

There had been a ladies toiet block in the park area of the Square and they quickly extended a structure around it, divided it into small booth-like sections and had local business owners draw lots for a booth, since there was not enough space in the building to go around.

The booths were tiny, but better than no premises at all and allowed for limited trading to continue whilst rebuilding of their full premises took place.

The rules were strict, the moment your new premises looked like  completion could be imminent, you lost your booth place to the next business waiting in the queue.

Since the tempory building in Clive Square was largely made out of corrugated iron and had a corrugated iron roof it was quickly dubbed “Tin Town”  by the locals  and Tin Town proved to serve Napier residents well for several years after the quake.

Many people are looking at this example of simplified organisation and drive  to get something done quickly as an example of a solution for Christchutch City facing it’s present day central city rebuild, and I wish, wish, wish it could be so simple.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sadly today Christchurch is hung up in a mountain of red tape, insurance battles, City Council in-fighting, and the two locations differ vastly when comparing the sheer scale of demolition needed, the number of business involved, the difference in size of the two city centres, the sizes and heights of the building involved in both demolition and rebuild, the populations each serves, and the number and magnitudes of aftershocks that are still taking place.

It’s not to say that it wouldn’t be wonderful if Christchurch could have a “Barton and Campbell” of their own… a few clear headed and clear minded men /women with the authority to make decisions and get things done quickly and efficiently.

But rightly or wrongly these days everyone demands to be “consulted”,  society is more democatric and more complex, rules are made to try and regulate every eventuality , but we have to remember that most people effected by any disaster aftermath  usually don’t conveniently fit the set patterns of the Rules laid down after the disaster. Every story and every need is different. It’s hard to make the recovery system work for everyone.

One is delighted that their land has been deemed Red Zone  …they can now rebuild elsewhere or relocate overseas and move on.

Another is devistated that their almost undamaged building has been lumped into a Red Zone and is fighting to stay and selvage what they can because their insurance will only pay out for the minimal damage, the rest of the property is effectively now worthless, marooned in what will shortly become no-mans land and the amount they get for the land is a pittance.

If this property represents your life savings tied up in your home, business or both, then you can see that they really are “between a rock and a hard place”.

The Christchurch situation is more complicated and the city faces an up-hill battle,  so a “Barton”and a “Campbell”  style of  inspired vision would no doubt be severely welcome.

Tin Town was an inspired solution for Napier in 1031 … it was up and running witihn months of the quake and certainly saved many businesses from going under. It’s long gone now of course,  but Clive Square stands ready should the unthinkable ever unfold here again. Let’s have a look around Clive Square as it looks today.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 29, 2012

Lessons Learned and Changes That Rippled World Wide…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

From the posts of the last few days we know what happened when the 1931  Hawke’s Bay (Napier) earthquake hit and the terrible consequences that followed.

Like many other earthquake prone cities around the world, Napier learned the hard way that their previous historical building methods were far from satisfactory …

…not that any building can be made one hundrd percent “earthquake proof” of course,  but they realised that the  traditional (European style) methods that had been used so far had some seriously fatal flaws, and the building code of the time was unsuited to the stresses that buildings would face when an earthquake struck.

Until this moment construction was mostly of the double or triple brick type which meant very little wood framing,  and for instance sash windows were set directy into brick “frames” made within external walls that also supported the roof and masonaery (rather than windows built into an independent frame that provided additional masonary support).

The double and triple-brick style of construction held up poorly during an earthquake since there was very little flexability in the structure, … walls sometimes only  joined together by dove-tailed bricks at the corners, quickly parted company during the shaking, or only had to bow outwards enough for the roof above to become totally unsupported and come crashing down.

The other crutial failure point was that verandas outside the pedestrian areas of shops were held up with poles along the street edge.

The other edge of the veranda was attached into the brickwork of the building  it belonged to with only minimal fastenings since the poles supported most of the weight.

During earthquake shaking  varranda roofs and their poles parted company with alarming speed and with so little support offered on the building side of the roof, varrandas crashed down wholesale on unfortunate pedestrians and people attempting to flee buildings.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

With lessons learned, big changes were subsequently made to the New Zealand building code, but the reprecussions also rippled out world wide.

A local change was that in the entire Hawke’s Bay area there are very few buildings over five stories high and the new building code requires heavy reinforcement in all New Zealand buildings. New strengthening techniques were also developed (a process which is still on-going today).

But if you live anywhere in the world and have a building close by where the veranda is held up with metal  strut attachments that are anchored deep into the building itself, then you have the 1931 Napier Earthquake to thank for this far safer design.

Gone are the rows of posts along the pavement, the new design eliminated them as the weight is counterbalanced by the building itself.

This makes a less cluttered pedestrian area possible, with greatly improved traffic flows: an instantly popular feature, and in an earthquake situation it’s found that since the varranda is attached and embedded into the buildings structure, it’s more likely to move with it, instead of being a seperate apendage that doesn’t.

This new method for securing verandas to buildings was quickly adopted not only in earthquake prone countries but in many countries around the world, and has subsequently saved many lives in other quakes because of the improved design.

Now when I see struts like these sticking out of a building holding up a veranda I have a far greater understanding for the reason they became necessary and know that some of the Napier lives lost,  at least contributed to the development of a safer world wide building code and were therefore  not  lost in vain.

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March 28, 2012

I Hope I Never Have to Walk in Shoes Like These…

Filed under: HISTORY,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One account that our guide gave us of what happened directly after the Napier Earthquake was especially graphic and heart-wrenching.

A lady was in the Napier church when the quake struck and was trapped alive but pinned under tons of masonary. She was known to some of the people who tried desperately to rescue her and they got someone to race off and find her grown son who worked close by.

He survived the quake and arrived to also try and help with the rescue of his mother.

With no heavy lifting equipment available it became clear that they were never going to get her out.

She was semi-concious, clearly dying slowy from her massive injuries and in an inhuman amount of pain.

Time ran out when they realised that the cities now rampant fires had taken hold of the buildings around the church and the church itself was starting to burn. Someone ran to the  hospital a short distance away to get a Doctor … who was compelled to break the Hippocratic oath and give the poor woman a lethal dose of morphine to put an end to her suffering and to ensure that she would not burn alive when the now rapidly approaching fire reached that part of the church.

It must have been a heartbreaking decision, and truly traumatic for everyone involved. (How aware the woman was, or not, of what was happening around her at that point wasn’t specified or maybe even known) . How horrific to have had to make such a decision and I’m sure that her son and the Doctor would have struggled with it until their dying day.

I’m going to try and remember this whenever I think I have a tough decision to make, and realise that in the scale of “tough stuff”, that whatever I’m faced with pales into insignificance compared  to what people like these had to deal with.

There’s always going to be someone somewhere facing a dilemma far far greater than mine. Walking  in someone else shoes might involve carrying a weight heavier than we would ever imagine bearing.

Perspective is a mighty valuable tool in Life is it not?   I fear it’s a tool that is severely  under-used.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 27, 2012

Napier Wasn’t Just One Disaster, But Two…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yesterday’s post was about the physical upheaval that happened around Napier when the 1931 earthquake struck.

To better understand the sequence of events that followed  the quake and the long term repercussions, we first need to look at the damage that was done.

In the years preceding the quake early colonial settlers built first from wood, as local Maori had done before them since wood was plentiful.

However these buildings were prone to fire, and since the colonists were traditionally used to building in brick and stone, these slowly became the materials of choice for civic buildings, shops and many houses.

Many factors came into play during the quake, not least the magnitude and the length of the shaking, but the construction methods used in the brick and stone buildings were by far the least satisfactory when compared to their wooden counterparts and the brick and stone buildings killed and wounded many people.

Of course it’s hard to expect any building to withstand an almost three meter upward shift of the ground beneath it so it’s hardly surprising that the damage was so severe. According to our guide however, the fires that broke out due to gas leaks compounded the disaster by an even bigger magnitude because victims buried alive had no chance against the rapidly advancing flames.

The fires broke out in a few isolated locations at first and were almost completely bought under control by firemen and volunteers but in a cruel twist of fate the wind picked up at a crucial moment as other gas leaks began new blazes and soon whole parts of the city were in flames.

The Napier tramway was so badly damaged that it was never rebuilt, and people were forced to live in tents for some time after the quake…

I learned a smattering about the Napier earthquake when I was at school, but compared to what I have learned so far today it was just a passing glance of information, a real shame because I feel sad that this happened so comparatively recently (our grandparents and great-grand parents generation) and how quickly these events could be forgotten (or at least not given the true depth of study they deserve by subsequent generations).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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March 26, 2012

Land Reclamation, Mother Nature Style…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s a reason why we have chosen to visit Napier. I was last here as a teenager and remembered small parts of my time here, but wanted to revisit as an adult so that I could really learn more about the city.

It’s especially relevent that we arrive now, shortly after having been in large earthquakes in Christchurch, because the biggest reason that Napier is world famous because of an earthquake.

I want to do one of the guided walking tours that are available here but realise that  of course “walking” isn’t my strong point at the moment so have to work out if this is going to be feasable.

Once our kids caught sight of a playground and a mini-golf establishment, they and Himself decided that that was more their cup of tea than information on city architecture and historical events and so we arranged to meet up some hours later and went temporarily on our seperate ways.

The only good thing about having been on on crutches for a year now, is that my arms sport some decent muscles and are now no longer just rubbery apendages and I can stand on my right foot for ages if I have to.

I descide to do the walking tour for several reasons… first  is that the cental area of Napier is surprisingly small, second: all I want to do at first is to keep up and listen to the guide, I intend to have a rest afterwards and then retrace my steps slowly taking photos, so I don’t need to do both at once.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The tour mostly involves moving very short distances to the next place our guide next want to talk about, a pause whilst she does so, this means I can stand on one leg whilst still and use my arms whilst moving and my foot isn’t going to touch the ground at all during this exercise.

(This kind of movement is what my physiotherapist calls “sneaking” as it involves no real work for my foot and so she wouldn’t approve of this, but in this case I think she would conceed that it will be the only way I will be able to manage.) It’s still hard work and tiring, but do-able for once or twice every now and again.

After the tour I will be sitting in the van and the extra space means I can put my foot up and rest, rest, rest…

The reason that Napier is a tourist attraction these days is largely down to the fact that it is one of the most beautiful Art Deco cities in the world.

The reason for that happening was that the city was rebuilt in the Art Deco style in the rebuild after the Tuesday February 3rd, 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake (also known as the Napier Earthquake).

The 7.8 magnitude quake had many profound effects … not least of course the deaths of 256 people but in today’s post I want to talk about one of the most geographically noticable effects.

Our guide showed us into an exhibition  at the Deco heritage centre, where we saw a film and photo’s of before and after the quake.

Until now,  I never realised that Napier used to be situated on a large lagoon called the Ahuriri Lagoon which was in effect a natural harbour, fishing and recreational area.

The quake shook the area for two and a half minutes and lifted 2230 hectares of land up ( 5 510.450 acres) more than 2.7 meters ( 8.8 feet) , resulting in the sea water rushing out of the lagoon, which was left as a new landmass complete with many poor surprised fish doomed to flounder on sea floor mud that was now dry land.

This area is today Napier’s airport, a light industrial area, an area of housing and farmland.

Apparently there had been a large regatta the days prevous to the quake on Ahuriri Lagoon, an event that had involved many of the town’s inhabitants and there were still many small boats from the regatta left moored there.

These were all left high and dry when the land rose up and people were amazed to see the very place where in the weekend they had raced their boats, now a large expanse of dry land.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just as shocked as the floundering fish were the sailors aboard the New Zealand Royal Navy ship HMS Veronica, who also found their ship instantly dry-docked by Mother Nature, but their presence saved many many lives because the ship had independent radio equipment which undamaged, was used to radio for help within minutes of the quake.

Cargo ships and two cruisers were immediately diverted to assist and bought doctors, nurses, rescue equipment, food and tents.

The Veronica‘s sailors were also instrumental in helping the towns survivors to fight the many fires that broke out, rescue trapped people and treat the injured.

Personally, even in spite of having recent experience with large earthquakes, I find it really hard to comprehend just what it must have been like to be in a quake that within minutes, lifts you and the ground you are on, about  three meters higher than your previous position. I’m not sure it’s if gobsmackingly amazing and I should be in awe or  if it’s just downright scary.

It’s also more than a tad ironic that the Dutch half of my heritage represents a nation who are famous for building up  large areas of their own country through land reclamation…

The Dutch spend decades and centuries lifting land out of the sea… but in Napier Mother Nature did it in two and a half minutes.

Sadly her price tag for this feat of natural engineering was that the city also fell, claiming lives. Efficient? Most certainly, but to my mind (sigh, if there was ever there was a choice)… definitely far too high a price to pay.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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