It’s crazy to think that the September 2010 earthquake that rocked the nation and brought so much destruction was a decade ago. The little town of Kaiapoi seemed to receive the short end of the stick, as one of the most damaged areas in the greater Canterbury region.
Current affairs crew Frank Films visited the community following the shakes and again a decade after the disaster.
Kaiapoi is the story of their return.
The short film has a running time of just over four minutes and within it, a journey spanning 10 years.
Arguably the first quake was Kaiapoi’s worst disaster to date, with one third of homes severely damaged, 1,048 were demolished and many community facilities lost.
Fast forward to present day and it would receive the award ‘little town, big success story’ (if there were such an award).
The film highlights the council’s new $12 million civic centre, the old railway station now converted into a café, the league club-built spec houses designed to raise funds for new clubrooms and Kaiapoi’s red-zone-turned-community space with sports fields, a BMX track and native planting.
But that’s not all!
The water-loving river town hopes to upgrade further with the inclusion of an aqua sports park featuring a man-made wave, white-water course and cable wakeboarding.
As the saying goes, ‘make the best of a bad situation’ and we think Kaiapoi did exactly that.
Earthquake strengthening work has started at the block of shops on the corner of Straven and Riccarton Roads.
Priority Projects, a fit-out, design-build and project management company, is working to upgrade the buildings to 100 percent of the NBS code.
Project Manager Jason Turner says construction is expected to take six months, but as work is being done in stages, any disruption will be kept to a minimum.
As well as strengthening the 30-year-old building located at 90 Riccarton Road, a new upgraded fire system will be installed and they will bring all accessible toilets up to compliance.
“Already, the front canopy has been deglazed, we’re using Uracryl paint on the structural steel canopy frame which prolongs longevity, and new aluminium composite panels will be installed above the replacement shopfront towards the end of the project.
“It’s being brought up to 100 percent of the building code. We’ve been working with the building owners for the last eight months through the design and consenting process, and property managers and tenants.”
The Christchurch City Council has worked alongside Priority Projects to allow the utilisation of parking spaces to help minimise disruption to pedestrian and traffic flows in the immediate area.
Since 2009, the Priority Projects team have been offering comprehensive project management of commercial fit-outs, design-build, feasibility studies, earthquake repairs, rebuilds and new construction projects, that stick to the core values of quality, value and results.
There’s not many ‘old souls’ left standing in the Christchurch central city, which makes the opportunity to showcase any effort to maintain them a good one.
The former Wellington Woollen Mills building at 96 Lichfield Street and the Design and Arts College building at 116 Worcester Street have each received $600,000 toward their multimillion-dollar repairs and refurbishments.
Christchurch City Council staff had recommended $900,000 for each building, but with only $1.2m left in the heritage grant kitty for this year, councillors decided against dipping into next year’s $1.5m budget, instead opting to cap the amount at $600,000 each.
Both properties are classed as ‘Highly Significant’ buildings in the Christchurch District Plan.
Dating back to the 1930s, the former State Insurance building in Worcester Street was designed by renowned architect Cecil Wood, in association with Paul Pascoe.
It has art deco influences and was first used as offices for the State Fire and Accident Insurance Company and for the Lands and Survey and Lands and Deeds Departments.
The building was damaged in the earthquakes but has changed hands since then. The new owners – 116 Worcester Street Ltd – have plans to fully upgrade it and restore this golden oldie’s historic façade, including the original coat of arms. Its new use will be for living and rental accommodation.
The second notable building is the former Wellington Woollen Mills building, a category 1 historic building in Lichfield Street, which dates back to 1920.
It was designed by architect William Gummer, whose firm Gummer and Ford, was responsible for many significant buildings around New Zealand including the Auckland Railway Station and the former National Art Gallery and Museum in Wellington.
Designed in a pared-down classical style, it was one of the first commercial buildings in Christchurch to feature glass curtain walling.
Currently hiding behind scaffolding and mesh, the new funding will be a welcome addition in the process of breathing life back into the building.
The new owners (Wool House Investments Ltd) hope to both repair and upgrade the structure.
The Central City Landmark Heritage Grant Funding Scheme was set up by the council after the earthquakes to help owners retain, repair and strengthen the central city’s remaining historic buildings.
To date, grants of more than $13.5 million have been made to 12 different heritage restoration projects.
The heritage grants for the two buildings have been granted on the condition that full conservation covenants are registered against the property titles.
Almost a decade has passed since the traumatic events of the 2011 earthquakes. That’s nearly 10 years of trying to get the city back on its feet. Bit by bit, building by building we’re started to rebuild the heart of the Garden City.
We’ve hunted out all the upcoming developments and cool things happening around town to get you excited about the year to come – we weren’t short of inspiration!
Christchurch Hospital Acute Services Building:
If you haven’t been into the CBD and seen this colossal 10-storey building creeping up in size near the Christchurch Women’s Hospital, then you may need to look again.
This gigantic project has been in construction since 2015 and, as the largest government project in Canterbury coming in at 62,000 square metres, it’s easy to see why this is such a big deal for the city – literally and figuratively! It’s set to throw open its doors later this year.
Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre:
The Convention Centre, scheduled to open in October this year, will provide the facilities we’ve been lacking since its predecessor was demolished in early 2012.
Supported by accommodation, retail, hospitality and public transport, it is set to be world-class and it’s certainly got the look down pat; the braided river façade of the new building is already the talk of the town.
With 43,000 herringbone tiles set to be installed on the building… no wonder it’s popping into conversation here and there.
The South Frame:
This project is in construction stage, with around three quarters of it already now complete.
Ōtākaro Ltd describes the site as “a place for markets, events and celebrations – an area to gather, dine, be entertained or just relax”.
The Greenway will be at the heart of this project, providing an oasis in between the hustle and bustle of city life.
3D interactive visualiser:
With all these new developments, you might be keen to look back on just how much this city has evolved in the few years following the earthquake.
The Christchurch City Council can help you do that with their ‘3D interactive visualiser of the CBD’.
Not only can you view the buildings we lost during the quake, but you can also see the revival and emergence of the new CBD.
It really puts into perspective just how far we’ve come in such a short time.
Canterbury Multi-Use Arena:
Labelled a ‘game-changer’ for the city, the multi-use arena will help Christchurch re-establish itself as New Zealand’s sporting and cultural capital.
The 25,000-seat arena is set to come in at $472 million to build.
A small(ish) price to pay to transform Christchurch into a super-host for major sporting and cultural events.
Sir Bob Parker’s leadership was – and still is – widely regarded as what got our city through the dark days of 2011. We caught up with him about the poignancy of the nine-year anniversary.z
We’ve just passed the nine-year anniversary of the Christchurch earthquakes, how poignant is that date for you?
It is an emotional reminder for me of how much we lost, from people to places, on that day in 2011.
It is clear that for those of us who faced the terror of that day in Christchurch of just how far we have come with rebuilding the city but also how much the losses and fear of that day and the months that followed still shape our lives.
How did being stoic for the city help yourself dealing with the emotions and upheaval at the time?
Like so many others at the time in those first days, I was putting in long hours focused on the immediate rescue issues.
It was my job to keep our community informed as best I could.
This work meant that there wasn’t much space in my life for the luxury of personal reflection.
Personal needs took a back seat to community needs, so the emotion at that time was shoved into the background.
You smashed three ribs after landing on a wooden table in the Civic Building in the February quake, were the emotional scars as bad as the physical scars of the earthquake?
The simple answer is yes. Like many people that I have discussed this with since that awful day, the traumatic scars remain.
Those post-traumatic feelings don’t dominate my life, but they are there.
I still react to any sound that imitates the rumble an approaching earthquake makes, or any unexpected vibration of a building.
I am a master at imagining any building I am in collapsing around me; I know it is not likely to happen but I can’t stop that internal movie from popping up.
I’m always checking buildings out for potential structural shortcomings and part of me is waiting for the Alpine Fault to let go.
I know I’m not painting the most balanced picture, but I am not alone in this and it’s good to talk about it.
But at least I’ve stopped checking Geonet or Canterbury Quake Live every hour or so, trying to predict if another quake is likely!
I didn’t realise I had smashed ribs in the earthquake until several days afterwards, such was the adrenalin.
Joanna and I didn’t sleep for those first few days. Who could?
But I noticed that every time someone hugged me (there was lots of hugging in those early post-quake days) it was getting more and more painful.
I was at the hospital checking on my parents who’d both been admitted and when I complained about the chest pain to one of the staff they quickly arranged for an x-ray.
We then spotted that several ribs were damaged. It didn’t stop the hugging though.
I think that human contact kept us all going in Christchurch at that time. It was our emotional release perhaps.
Everything from there was unprecedented! The central city redesigned, whole suburbs closed and managed home repair schemes launched, laws bestowing special powers passed and a new Government entity formed to run the show. How much complexity did this add to your role?
The complexity was to be expected.
The 22 February earthquake was, and still is, the only national emergency ever formally declared in New Zealand.
It was always going to be a job that was bigger than Christchurch alone could deal with.
However the multi-agency complexity was tiring as it often interfered with what council regarded as normal council responsibilities.
That did lead to conflict at times. As the initial post-quake response descended into the daily grind of a community wanting to sort personal issues and needs, our council found itself under huge pressure from our people.
Our every move came under extraordinary scrutiny from all directions. At the end of that term in 2013 it felt like a lifetime since the quake, not just three years.
Facing urban decay before the earthquakes, Christchurch has risen in spectacular fashion. How proud are you of how Christchurch has been able to come back to life?
I am very proud of our city. It is really a tribute to the amazing people of Christchurch that we are an almost completely rebuilt, fully functioning city with a superb future.
Many people wrote us off. The most common question from foreign media was “does Christchurch have a future?”
I always answered emphatically “yes!” We had a lot of help from those around us in New Zealand and even from overseas but in the end ‘we’, the people of this place, did it.
What do you love the most about the ‘new’ Christchurch?
The newness; the new safe and strong buildings, the emergence of the waterfront along the Avon, the survival and restoration of key historic buildings which are now like diamonds set in concrete and steel surrounds.
I also have a new appreciation of the suburban centres which became the powerhouses of our city’s survival and recovery when we needed them most.
For me at that moment the city became more than just a CBD; rather a collection of villages clustered around a strong centre.
In a speech to the Local Government New Zealand organisation in 2013, then-Prime Minister John Key stated that your “commitment to the city during its darkest hours will be his legacy”. How proud are you of this legacy?
I was humbled by the Prime Minister’s words.
The legacy is shared with so many people. Every citizen who was here in that difficult time and who stayed the course is part of that legacy.
I am proud that the plan that my council and community created from our outstanding ‘Share an Idea’ project became the structural basis of the rebuild ‘Blueprint’ for the city.
Subsequent councils and governments have essentially carried out the vision we laid down.
So I love the feeling of the council that I led having been a key part of that planning. All of those councillors put incredible efforts into their roles in perhaps the most difficult of circumstances that any council in this land has ever faced. They all deserve much credit for that. That’s our collective legacy, of which I was but one small part.
This weekend we mark the ninth anniversary of the devastating 22 February 2011 earthquake that claimed 185 lives and impacted on thousands more, changing our city forever.
It will be a time for us to pause and reflect on the tragedy, to remember the people and places that we lost, and all the challenges so many have had to confront for years. It will also be a time for us to reflect on how far we have come.
We can always be proud of our achievements, both large and small. And we can think of the myriad of ways we have come together to support each other and to create opportunity out of adversity.
We can see a modern, vibrant central city full of people friendly spaces that makes a feature of the Ōtākaro Avon River.
We have replaced many community facilities throughout the city with modern, multi-purpose facilities that bring people together.
We have restored many of our heritage buildings, rebuilt damaged infrastructure and created new world-class facilities like our Tūranga library and the soon-to-be opened Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre. The city is going from strength to strength, with the new developments creating a real sense of vibrancy.
As a city we will never forget the tragic events of 22 February 2011 – or the people we lost – however we can look forward with confidence to the future, knowing that no matter what, we can always rely on each other to come together in times of need and make the most of everything we each have to offer.
Since 2011 the directors of ABI Piers have managed commercial and residential earthquake repairs and rebuilds throughout Christchurch. With more than 40 years’ experience in construction, Chris and Nigel Colenso saw that large commercial buildings had expensive base isolation systems to protect them from earthquake damage, but there was no cost-effective system to protect smaller buildings.
To fill that gap in the market, they developed three versions of the ABI Piers foundation system to suit most locations. During severe earthquakes, the ABI Piers foundation system protects buildings, occupants and contents, preventing the full force of the quake affecting the house. The support springs flex and re-centre the building while soaking up seismic energy.
Theunis Klok, an Engineering Technologist at Callaghan Innovation, is having the system installed under his home. “I first heard about the ABI Piers system at my workplace when Chris came to show us the technology,” Theunis says.
“It appealed to me because I never want to go through the stress, financial hardship and unnecessary cost [of an earthquake] ever again. ABI Piers will permanently repair the earthquake damaged foundation of my house and ‘future proof’ my biggest investment.
“I believe the ABI Piers system is better than alternative foundations currently on the market and the cost compares really well.”
The system has been tested by BRANZ as compliant with the New Zealand Building Code. If post-earthquake relevelling of the home is required, the piers are easily relevelled and height adjusted back to as new position. Visit www.abipiers.com.
It’s safe to say that Christchurch has been leading the way when it comes to earthquake research, as we become determined to be an infrastructural world leader.
Now a University of Canterbury infrastructure engineering programme has been awarded $12 million investment funding from the MBIE Partnerships Scheme for a project titled ‘Infrastructure Systems Engineered for Improved Value and Resilience’.
Led by UC Quake Centre director Dr Robert Finch, with UC’s Ada Rutherford, Professor of Architectural Engineering Larry Bellamy as the Science Leader, the project’s purpose is to transform the building and construction industry so that it leads the world in digital design and construction methods, material and manufacturing technologies, and construction systems.
UC Quake Centre director Dr Finch says the sector is internationally competitive, enhances the wealth, resilience and wellbeing of New Zealand communities and supports higher levels of economic growth.
“It means both industry and Government can now work together to drive research outcomes that will change and improve the performance and affordability of infrastructure development in New Zealand over the long term,” he says.
“Ultimately this will contribute to wealth creation for the country and more resilient communities.”
Professor Bellamy says the aim is for commercialisation of new digital and material technologies to be under way within two years of the project ending, spawning a new manufacturing sector and significantly improving the productivity of the building industry.
“After five years, we expect leading firms will be utilising new building methods and technologies with direct financial benefits to New Zealand in the hundreds of millions each year.”
Just when it seems the world is suffering a surfeit of doom and gloom stories, along comes a story big-hearted enough to illuminate the entire universe. Along comes Project EBC and four fabulous people – Mike Lowden, Bette Chen, Tina Morrell and Fergus Flannery.
Project EBC (Everest Base Camp) was born from the coming together of like-minded individuals whose passion and vision for Everest initiated a two-fold mission: to trek to Everest Base Camp (at an elevation of 5,364 metres) and to help a family from Khumjung Village rebuild their earthquake-damaged home.
The home belongs to Tshering Thundu (Sandu), his wife, Tangii, and their four children. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 25, 2015 wrought such havoc that Sandu – a porter and guide for more than 15 years who has summited Everest five times – and his family have had to camp under canvas ever since; not pleasant when winter temperatures can plummet to minus 15.
“If anybody can understand the hardships this family has endured, it’s Cantabrians,” Tina says.
The cost for the materials and freight for the repair of the family home exceed NZD $20,000. Funds raised in excess of building and repair costs will aid in the children’s schooling and any surplus to support the Project EBC team, which will be working on-site in Khumjung for two days alongside local Nepalese tradesmen.
This is ‘trekking with a mission’. With a goal of raising $25,000, Project EBC ran the 2017 Mount Cook Marathon as a team and raised $1,800+; they completed the 2017 CBD Stampede Obstacle Course, and on February 17 hosted a fundraiser gala dinner which raised more than $7,000.
“It may seem only one family’s benefitting,” says Fergus, “but the community will help build the home – the ripple effect from that can’t be measured.”
Tina nods, “A bit like conquering Everest – one step at a time.”
For more information, visit www.projectebc.com.