It was my first visit to Christchurch since early 2010 so my first time to see the state of the city first-hand. Sure, I’d seen the news coverage, but I still wasn’t really prepared for what I saw, particularly in the suburban areas. It was quite surreal going along streets where half the houses were abandoned with doors open and gardens overgrown, while neighbouring houses were still lived in, some with modern plumbing, some with outhouses.
Lyttelton was also a shock. It’s not a place I had spent a lot of time, so I couldn’t tell you what London Street used to look like, but the effects of the earthquakes were plain to see with numerous cleared lots and damaged buildings.
But what was equally plain to see was the community spirit, the way the locals were making opportunities from the ruins.
Walking around the streets the photographer in me was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to photograph. But at the same time just being there was emotionally overwhelming; the obvious realisation of the human cost, the complete abandonment of seemingly fixable houses.
But what I found really interesting were the little things, the details. In the suburbs …
And in the red zone …
And this letter seen in Latimer Square, near (I found out later) to where the CTV Building had stood. The few visible words are intense and sad, and the emotion is palpable.
Then there are the more formal and official memorials like that at St Luke’s Anglican Church and the newly opened memorial at Avonhead Cemetery.
More of the photos I took over that weekend can be seen on the QuakeStories website, where everyone can add their own photos and stories.