We visited the city of Christchurch, which was very badly damaged by two large and thousands of small earthquakes over the past few years. We stayed in Christchurch, and visited the centre of the city that was so badly damaged. It was very moving and emotional. So many of the buildings are unable to be used, and are cordoned off, and many of them have stickers on the windows to keep people out of unsafe buildings. On many buildings there are signs of the original search for survivors that was conducted after the second big quake.
We haven't got any photos of us with these buildings, it would have felt like we were trespassing on the grief of the people who live there, and disrespectful to those who died.
But even though so many buildings are damaged, and the sound of demolition is constant, and there are lots of empty gaps where buildings used to be, there is so much hope and innovation in Christchurch. Here are photos of us at the ReStart Mall, which is an inner city shopping mall which is entirely constructed from shipping containers. This area is bright and hopeful. We shared a coffee in the red building you can see, it's a cafe where the upstairs floor has bean bags to sit. There are lots more innovations, like using an empty block where a building was demolished as a soccer pitch, or putting an old commercial refrigerator on a corner, which is now used as an informal book lending library.
So many areas of the city are still very unstable, and shipping containers have been put to use as barriers along cliff roads to protect houses and cars from rockfall.
Many artists and communities have created murals to make these very industrial containers look wonderful.
One community project was to make a cozy for a container from knitted and crocheted squares. People from around the world sent squares to be sewn together, to make the container look bright and colourful, and to soften a hard surface, and to offer comfort and warmth. It is a glorious thing to see.