One Year On

It has now been one year since we experienced the first earthquake. Since that 7.1 magnitude quake centred around Darfield we have experienced over 8300 aftershocks including the terrible 6.3 magnitude quake on 22nd February which caused so much damage and the loss of so many lives. A lot has changed over the last year, buildings have been torn down or have fallen down and about 20% of the homes Kaiapoi are to be demolished along with many more homes in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs. The centre of Christchurch is still cordoned off and business has moved away from the town centre.



Despite the trauma and damage there are positives. The community spirit shown by so many over the last year, the great work from the student volunteer army and all the farmers from around the area. People have come together in their neighbourhoods to help out.

With the anniversary of the initial quake there have been a number of events organised and I was asked to take some images of the Light Up Kaiapoi concert at Kaiapoi High School. I had planned to go along anyway so it worked out well. The event was a lot of fun and well attended, the audience and performers seemed to enjoy themselves. Oh and we didn’t have any aftershocks during the show. This years Father’s Day was much better than last year.





Yet Another Shake

Running a bit behind this week, mainly due to another large aftershock on Monday. In fact we had two in quick succession, a 5.7 and then a 6.3 less than 90 minutes later. More mess, more liquefaction for the eastern suburbs of Christchurch.

The quakes themselves have not caused significant new damage to my home but the constant aftershocks wear on nerves. It has certainly made concentrating on the portfolio for my diploma course very hard. I have too any ideas and still haven’t settled on a final theme. I’ve considered Akaroa, sunsets, still-life, flowers and various other combinations. I even have some quite reasonable images for each of the possible themes however I need to decide once and for all this week. I can only hope that there are no further significant aftershocks, I feel for those cleaning up yet again from the damage and mess.


Akaroa Sunset No1




Akaroa Sunset No2


It is just over a week since Christchurch was hit by the magnitude 6.3 aftershock which did so much damage to the city. For me things are getting back to some semblance of normality; I am back at work and my kids are back at school. In the city itself, particularly in the eastern suburbs many people are still without power or water or sewage. The schools are closed for another week and some schools will not reopen any time soon, resulting in the pupils having to be accommodated in other schools around the city and possibly the surrounding area.

Many people have simply left the city, how many will return is unclear. Even in Kaiapoi some children have been taken away from school leaving their bags behind – left in their classrooms when the quake hit.

Our local department store (built in 1921) badly damaged in the September 4th earthquake is now being demolished and I have been trying to document some of the process, starting with how it looked after the first earthquake on September 4th.


After the second there was more damage, too much this time


so they started to tear it down.


Now the store is pretty much all gone.


A lot of people watched while they started to demolish the store, it has been part of the town for so long. I took a lot of images but the one which best relates to how I felt about the process was taken at a strange angle. To me it gives the feeling of upset, something not being quite right, like someone has picked it up and shaken it, I guess that is pretty much what the earthquake did.

Shattered Blackwells_2011-03-01_17-20-26_DSC_9283_©RichardLaing(2011)

Shaken Again

Almost 6 months after the last big earthquake here in Christchurch we have suffered a second. On Tuesday 21st February at 12:51pm the ground again decided to shake, this time a 6.3 magnitude quake but closer to the city and shallower. Last time the quake happened at night, no one was about but this time it was the middle of the day. People filled the streets and buildings, damaged in the first quake, fell down around their ears.

On Monday night we had some portrait tuition at our local photographic club; we had a couple of friendly, interesting and patient models. One was Mathew McEachen, Matti to his friends of whom he had many. I only met him for a couple of hours but his obvious love for art and life shone through. He worked as a tattoo artist in the city and was going to be exhibiting next month at the Design & Arts College of New Zealand of which he was an alumni.

Matti died in the quake trying to escape his collapsing tattoo parlour, he was 25. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.


Mathew McEachen, 25

Still Shaking

It has now been more than four weeks since the earthquake. The actual quake itself was not an experience I wish to have again. It was scary. Having seen images and reports from other large earthquakes around the world I knew that there would be aftershocks but it had not really hit me how many we might experience or for how long they might continue. We have now had well over 1000 aftershocks and we are still getting quite large ones – large enough to really rock the house; we had a 5.0 yesterday.

The larger aftershocks still have me wondering whether to dive for cover but in general I am lucky, the small quakes I can pretty much ignore. I can still sleep at night. There are many people who cannot.

The aftershocks may continue for months, hopefully diminishing in size and regularity. While the original quake was terrifying and destructive, for many people the long process of recovery will be harder, with nerves frayed by the continuing reminders. My thoughts go out them all.

I have been attempting to return to normality, which means I have been taking some more photos just for fun, and this weekend is the PSNZ Southern Regional Convention. It is to be held in New Brighton. Well done to everyone there for managing to continue with the organisation through the trauma of the last few weeks.


Feeling sheepish on my way to work this morning… 

Getting Better

The last week has felt very long, back at work and the kids back at school but still lots of aftershocks making sleep hard. Today has been much better with nothing since last night and even better we no longer have to boil our water.

This afternoon I took a walk into town again to take some photographs and enjoy the sunshine – quite a contrast from most of New Zealand which has been suffering from thunderstorms to the north and heavy snow further south. Canterbury seems to have missed out on that at least.

Kaiapoi is slowly getting back to a more normal state with shops and restaurants open, lots of buildings are still shut and the roads are a mess but usable. In town I met someone from the Kaiapoi Brass Band, apparently it is 125 years old and he told me that the brass band hall is to be torn down tomorrow. Another piece of heritage destroyed having survived over a hundred years. It seemed appropriate to take some images of it before its demolition.


Brick buildings have not fared well.