We were lucky enough to be in the city and was able to enjoy the opening ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup. It was a great event, free to the public, to experience and be able to say ‘I was there’.
During the speeches the Mayor of the city gave an impassioned vision of a community reborn, ready to over come it’s trials and to move forward into the future. Reference was made to losing out during the last Rugby World Cup and that it was only fit and proper that Christchurch should play a prominent role in this the 2015 cricket World Cup.
Having spent a couple of days in the city I have seen what has already been achieved and the progress under way to rebuild. The ‘container’ shopping mall is imaginative, fun and positive. For me however there are still far too many large buildings fenced off, open spaces where buildings once stood and now serve as ‘open air’ car parks. There is still a very great deal to do.
We visited the ‘Quake’ visitor experience (the word ‘attraction’ would be wrong on too many levels) and listened to a video where normal, regular people told their stories of that day… It was very moving and humbling.
I have visited many quake prone cities and the concept has always been very theoretical. However here in Christchurch seeing the ongoing effect of 30+ seconds of nature reeking havoc on us frail humans and listening to the stories of people at work, teaching children, having lunch on that day and what happened to them made the whole thing so very very real. Much more real than visiting LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Italy or the Greek Islands.
Despite the enthusiastic protestations of the Mayor of the city the city will need to move on. At some point in the future, but not even close to being now, the container shopping mall will need to be dismantled, the 185 empty white chairs of the earthquake memorial relocated , the Cathedral re dedicated and a host of other things will need to happen before the burden of the 2011 earthquake is finally lifted.
185 people lost their lives, many more had their lives changed forever. Four years is scant time to heal those collective scars, for the individuals no time will be sufficient.
I wish the people of Christchurch well, I feel privileged to have visited the city at this time. I hope I am able to return again in a few years and see what the people of the city have achieved for themselves.