On 22nd February, 2011 an earthquake tore through Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 185 people and causing massive damage to businesses, homes and the national psyche. From my desk in Singapore, I watched with shock as Christchurch was literally ripped apart and then sunk into the ground.
On 30th October 2016, I visited Christchurch for the first time since the earthquake. Frankly, I was horrified. I had not expected to see a city in disrepair, a city where whole blocks were still unusable, empty and reduced to carparks.
When I asked people, “What was here before?” I was told the names of buildings and I couldn’t help but feel a loss for the people who had worked here and the families that had relied on them.
Has the NZ Government done enough? How can there still be so much carnage nearly 5 years after the event? Why is it that Wilson Car Parking seems to be the only benefactor? Why do we pay insurance companies?
Thomas Hardy said, “To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poets”. In Christchurch, the beautification of the ugly has been left to street artists. Amongst the destruction, art blossoms. Although it is lovely to have such beauty, I was not cheered by it. I was left with an overall feeling of mourning for a city I had never really known.
And, I got to thinking, “If it has taken NZ 5 years to get Chch to this state of disrepair, how will Aleppo ever be restored?
Kia Kaha Christchurch.