A brief word about the 22 February Earthquake

Posted by

I don’t feel quite ready to write about the day but thought I’d better post something here in the interim.

My family are all safe. Katherine has relocated to Timaru with Molly (12) and Katie (4) while I am taking Annie (14) to Tauranga tomorrow where she will stay with friends and recommence high school. She is among 11 Marian College rowers who are relocating there to go to school and continue rowing.

Katherine and Katie were at home when it struck. Molly at school and Annie in the boat sheds at Kerrs Reach. I was at work. It took me 6.5 hours to get to Annie through the gridlocked traffic and rivers of silt. Every bridge between her and I was down bar one. I shall never forget the moment of pure joy at seeing her smiling (tear streaked) face when I finally got to her. We then had a 4 hour drive to Sumner. Both trips would normally take 15 minutes.

We spent the first night sleeping under tables downstairs, holding hands and riding out the violent aftershocks.

Our house is remarkably well intact, on the flat in Sumner. The surrounding hills, Richmond, Clifton, Mt Pleasant have been hammered.

The city is amazing, it is remarkable how one adjusts so quickly to driving past ruins and devastation along broken, bumpy, dusty roads. Some of the buildings have the word ‘clear’ spray-painted on them, others sadly have a number.

It is hard to describe the pride one feels seeing all the people pitching in to clear silt, feed neighbours and organise water deliveries. I spent time doing all of these and it is a great way to get your mind off things and to share a laugh or a hug with complete strangers.

We all know someone who’s had that worst of news. In my case one of my lovely staff members has lost her older sister in the CTV building collapse. The wife of one of the IT guys at work had a chimney fall two stories into her house and on top of her. She is in intensive care with serious back injuries.

It was all so random.

The aftershocks continue and each one brings a nanosecond of adrenalin.

Jamesons has been a great help ; )

And I don’t wish to sound trite but if you haven’t planned your emergency response, I suggest you do. Our family had water and a well stocked civil defence kit. After the September 4th earthquake we beefed it all up. It made a huge difference to surviving 7 days without power and water!

Oh and you don’t have to boil Jamesons 🙂


  1. Thanks Justin for your timely and thoughtful Blog. Christchurch is well and truly on our minds. Karen and I have got the most amazing survival kit together and I am pleased to report that we had about 90% of it. We bought ourselves a wind up wireless (no batteries) that has a torch built into it. It gets Short Wave too. A 30 second crank of the generator gives around 1.5hours of radio time!! Amazing idea, and very cheap too. I strongly recommend it.

    Although it does not compare, we experienced a sharp 4.5 quake here in Wellington that had our house on Kapiti shuddering. It was Karen’s first quake and with Ch Ch on our minds, it was very sobering and a little frightening, although I feel embarrassed to try and draw parallels with your own experience, it was perhaps Nature’s way of giving us a wee nudge too.

    The whole country has gone Red and Black. We are thinking, supporting and donating to ChCh and I am inspired by the Canterbury spirit which just does not know how to give up – awesome!

  2. We got one of those wind up radio torches as a gift for Christmas (it was sort of a joke after the last earthquake) It hasn’t left my side!!! Am going to get another, they are cool. Get one for your Cantab Whanau.

Comments are closed.