Christchurch #eqnz

A week ago, a moment that everyone will remember where they were in my lifetime happened when a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch.

Tuesday 22 February 2010 at 12.51 6.3 5km deep

I was at my desk. Switching between an email I was writing and our internal system to look something up to put in the email and I saw a few tweets scrolling by about an earthquake, then photos began to appear and that’s when I realised it was a big one.

I was not expecting the effect it would have on me. I was distracted by the news coverage and got to the point where I had to stop watching and reading the news because I became quite upset by it. I don’t have any particular ties to Christchurch, I don’t know the city particularly well. The one personal connection at the time was that my sister-in-law was visiting her parents with her daughters – we heard pretty quickly that they were OK. Seeing the crushed people emerging from the rubble, the broken buildings, the people crying on television brought tears to my eyes.

I wouldn’t call myself a shallow person but I have to shamefully admit that I don’t watch the news much and I’m fairly immune to the destruction and death from war, terrorists and natural disasters. 9/11 is the only other time I’ve looked at the news and cried. But the earthquake in Christchurch put people on the television crying and talking and devastated in New Zealand accents, they were from my own country, and I just felt sick with the horror of what they were going through. I felt compelled to rush and donate rather a lot more than the $10 or $20 I give to the Cancer Society each year after having cancer take my best friend 7 years ago. I had to ban myself from watching the news.

Also, I’ve never felt particularly patriotic or really felt anything when hearing our national anthem. Of course I’m proud to be a kiwi but the anthem’s always been a rather droning courtesy. But when the low rumble of the anthem grew out of the stone silent crowd in Wellington’s Civic Square after 2 minutes silence as we stood to signal support for Christchurch I could actually feel the hearts of the whole country joining together. And as more and more of the broken city is uncovered, bodies are found and the people of Christchurch and New Zealand link arms and get back on their feet, that anthem makes tears come to my eyes every time and will mean New Zealand to me from now on.


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