Monday, March 14, 2011


New Zealand is shocked and saddened by the earthquake and it's aftermath in Japan.

My heart goes out to all those who are waiting and watching for news of family and friends.

The film footage and photos are horrifying. In the midst of it we had our own little drama.The Tsunami advisory had many people on edge. We knew the risk was minor, our officials confirmed this was so, but we still kept watch. In the event it was little more than minor tidal surges with minimal damage to one or two moored boats.

We were well informed and we received phone calls and texts from so many people it was almost embarrassing. It's so nice to know that we look after each other.

It seems petty to complain about our lot but if you're living without running water and sewerage in an urban area, as so many are in Christchurch, you are either deeply affected by this tragedy or you are numbed by the sheer scale of it. Panic is not far away as we discovered when one family member became almost hysterical when we refused to evacuate my mother. We have discussed this many times and our choice is always to wait and see, if that's possible. We had 10 hours to decide on the level of danger and 15 minutes gets us to safety, with emergency supplies, if necessary. We were prepared.

We are not blase or careless as some told us. We are very aware and alert, just as people on the West Coast of America were, but we had a lot more time. Having said that our emergency kit is not ready to grab in an instant. That's something we need to work on. In the past I haven't worried because we have all we need in the bus ...... but it's not mobile right now. The brake line is severed and we haven't wanted to spend any money on repairs. I think we need to re-consider this decision.

I am 'kind of' glad our TV is on the blink. Something wrong with the aerial connection and we are waiting for the 'man who fixes' to have another job in the area. He will take approximately 10 minutes to fix if last time is anything to go by. We are reduced to the internet, isn't it a marvellous tool, and a smal screen TV in the old bus. This gives us a very poor snowy picture on one channel. Because we rarely use it we haven't worried about setting up a better system.Why spend money on something we rarely use. I don't miss it very much but John grumbles a lot. I find I'm in overlaod from disaster news. I don't want to bury my head in the sand but I don't want to watch that Tsunami of water turning cities inside out and upside down.

We have a glorious sunny day with a bit of an autumn feel. I love these clear blue skies.

Friday, March 11, 2011



It was auctioned online at Trade Me. It raised over $60,000 with a final last minute bid by New Zealand Ski Lodge and the Rock, estimated to be more than 25 ton, will grace the car park at Mt Hutt ... when they can move it. All the proceeds go to the the Earthquake Fund and the seller, past owner????? plans to take the comments from the TradeMe site and Face Book to make a book. Rocky's earning capacity knows no bounds.

Earthquake news has been the main feature here for more than two weeks but there is plenty of humour amongst the grim reality. It dominates my thoughts and as each day dawns I think of my son and his wife who live in Christchurch. Their home is livable but damaged. They bought a chemical toilet early last week. Their business has stalled. Amanda was also a part-time Nanny but her family have taken the children to Auckland, but Wayne has a job which will last forever. He's one of the road safety contingent employed by Fulton Hogan, a road construction company. He does lollipop duties but is also responsible for much more. It carries a lot more responsibility and stress than meets the eye.

10.000 homes will probably be demolished. Some areas may never be built on so the Government is possibly looking at building a satellite town.

Sewerage is a problem throughout much of the city. People who do have water are being asked to flush as little as possible. Imagine tens and tens of thousands of people without flush toilets. People are being very creative with their solutions. There is a website dedicated to photos and one of the TV channels is running a competition for the best longdrop or Dunny.

Enjoy this sample and go here for more and here. Reminds me of when I was a child. Both my grandmother and a great aunt had longdrops, or outhouses, (wharepuka in Maori), down a garden path surrounded by trellis and flowering climbers. They kept them spotless and the smell of creosote based disinfectant (Jeye's Fluid) was strong, along with the other stinky smells.

Christchurch has apparently stripped the world of porta-loos and chemical toilets. China is making chemical toilets and delivering them as fast as they can. (See note at end of post). There are tanks being planted in the street for people to empty their chemical toilets into. About 1500 portaloos and nearly 5000 chemical toilets have been distributed. There are more on the way. Even the ground tanks are having to be manufactured as all available are being used.

It sounds like a nightmare both for the authorities and the residents. Bathroom humour is at it's richest in Christchurch. A common topic of ribaldry is being caught sitting down when an aftershock hits.

Columnist Vicki Anderson says it all in yesterday's Christchurch Press under the heading It's Time To Dry The Tears. She has written some amazing articles including this one on the night of the Big Earthquake. Vicki Anderson is a powerful writer and while her passion may be with music she is far too talented to remain a music critic. Not that I think being a music critic is light weight but that there will be many more opportunities for Vicki to exercise her talent beyond her chosen field. Surely her career will move forward with the possibility of a global audience. A positive result from a terrible event.

Meantime we are enjoying a beautiful early autumn day with brilliant blue skies and crisp cooling breeze. We are preparing our house for weekend guests who will be going to a wedding tomorrow. We get to sleep 2 or 3 nights in The Purple Bus. It's becoming routine but it's a lot of work. We take extra care with cleaning and tidying as we think our guests deserve the best we can offer for their money.

Lunch calls and I can't leave everything to John.

There has been an earthquake in China in the last 24 hours. I'm not sure if this will affect our supply. There are supposed to be many porta-loos and chemical toilets coming from USA and many have already arrived from Australia. So much going on it's often hard to keep the facts reasonably accurate. We do know some USAR teams have gone home although the search for bodies continues as the rubble is cleared and dangerous buildings demolished.


The number of chemical toilets in Christchurch has doubled with 5000 additional chemical toilets arriving from China.

They're being distributed today to Avondale, Westhaven and Bromley.

Another 7500 chemical toilets are due in the next few days and 5000 are due next week.
In all, more than 30,000 chemical toilets have been ordered for Christchurch residents.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I want to write something different but all I can think about is the terrible earthquake in Christchurch. The city is recovering as best it can. Many people have stayed in their homes in spite of having no water, sewerage or power. Twelve nights and days gave passed and there are so many stories of wonderful people helping each other and communities trying to rebuild. In one area where the shops are still closed they had a large Farmers Market. One grower said he was delighted to have somewhere to sell his produce because with so many restaurants and shops closed he'd lost his normal market.

Another group of volunteers was the Farmy Army, a take on Britain's Barmy Army of Cricket supporters. The Voluntary Student Army, mobilised via internet, shovelled silt and mud that covered roads and garden leaving streets lined with metre high banks. One of the things the Farmy Army did was help remove this grey dust and sludge until the 450 contractors could take over. It's estimated that 220,000 tons of this stuff has been carted away from the suburbs to a landfill, with more to come.

Our son's street is one that is not yet cleared. Wayne thinks there may be a broken sewerage pipe nearby. Wayne and Amanda are back in their home so they can keep an eye on their neighbour's house while they have a break away from it all. They have bought a porta pottie. The Civil Defence are now distributing porta potties to affected homes.

There are 10,000 houses without electricity and at least twice that many without sewerage.

"People are being allowed into a section of the Central City which was cordoned off.
Shellshocked Christchurch residents and business owners finally returned to their broken properties in the central business district nearly two weeks since a deadly earthquake devastated their city.

The empty streets were suddenly clogged with traffic as residents rushed to check the damage to their buildings during the 6.3 magnitude quake that struck on February 22.

Police at 2pm lifted the cordon in areas of the CBD, allowing the public to retrieve any cars left behind before the quake."
copied from NZPA

We are being told that that there are about 800 buildings which need to be demolished.

About half the schools will be open tomorrow. Some schools are having to double up and share buildings.

The shaking continues with some strong enough to be alarming and cause further damage, It must be nerve wracking.

When one looks at the devastation it's amazing to see the progress toward normal life. Apparently the earthquake on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd could be the largest force experienced at ground level in the whole world. I can't find the source but I'm sure I heard that the peek force at ground level was equal to 1 G horizontally, the greatest that has even been recorded in a built up urban area. This was in an interview with Engineer, Dr. Charles Clifton

We enjoyed several beautiful sunrises last week. I'd love to put up the whole series of this morning but it might be to many at one time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Christchurch fell down. Christchurch is crying."


The spire of Christchurch Cathedral lies smashed on the ground. Two-and-a-half-year-old Aucklander Sophie Longstaff sees it on TV, turns to her mum and says: "Christchurch fell down. Christchurch is crying."

I needed to take a couple of days off from my laptop. I somehow picked up another dodgy tummy bug and couldn't lift my head off the pillow for 24 hours. Yesterday we packed up at Mum's and came home. For anyone new to my journal, we had been staying with my mother for nearly a week while our daughter took a break. My mother is almost 96 and we make certain she is never alone in the house at night.

The good part of being at Mum's is we wake to this.

I hope you have had an opportunity to see Amazing Race man Phil Koeghan's items on CBS Click here for an interview with him in Christchurch.

We have been heartened by people from all over the world.

A Concert in Glasgow at the St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral which is an exact copy of the damaged Christchurch Cathedral raised over $10,000 for Red Cross.

Art Agnos, who was Major of San Francisco when the big earthquake hit there in 1989 has praised the rescue and disaster efforts and in particular Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. Thoroughly well deserved and hard earned praise.

The USAR, (Urban Search and Rescue) are from 8 or nine countries.

Our Prime Minister is requesting financial help from around the Globe as well as speaking to large New Zealand companies.

We need all the help people are able to give. There are 155 people killed with this number expected to rise by another 100.

To put this in perspective. The 1989 San Fransisco Earthquake killed 63 people. San Francisco had a population of 736,00 at the time. Christchurch's population was less than 377,000. I write 'was' because it's believed something in excess of 50,000 people have left the city, many forever.

While some business has been able to relocate many can no longer function. It's hard for me to imagine the social disruption. Life for us goes on as usual.

The major difference for us is concern for family who are trying to continue and rebuild their lives in the city and the continual TV reporting. I must admit that after going one day without news when I felt too ill to look at TV let alone read left me feeling out of touch.

Yesterday New Zealand stopped at 1.51 pm for 2 minutes, exactly 7 days after the big earthquake. It was very moving to see many community gatherings on TV.

Dear Lord Jesus,

On this 9th day, I pray earnestly for our country and it's leaders. May your wisdom and strength be with Mayor Bob Parker and his Council, Prime Minister John Key, and all his Government, The Civil Defence, Russell Wood and the USAR teams, Fire Service, Police, Red Cross, Salvation Army, other Christian organisations, Medical and other support services too many to name.

Dear Lord I pray earnestly for all those directly affected, thinking of those who have lost homes and incomes.

I think of all the grief for lost family members, friends and colleagues. May everyone of them know some measure of comfort in the midst of their pain.

I give thanks that while we far away and see a tragedy of epic proportions, You see each one as an individual with individual needs.

God Defend New Zealand.


God of nations! at Thy feet
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our Free Land.
Guard Pacific's triple star,
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand

Men of ev'ry creed and race
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our Free Land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our State,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Peace, not war, shall be our boast,
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our Free Land.
Lord of battles in thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.

Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,
Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our Free Land.
From dishonour and from shame
Guard our country's spotless name
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.

May our mountains ever be
Freedom's ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto Thee,
God defend our Free Land.
Guide her in the nations' van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy Glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.