Christmas 2010
Well 2010 has been quite a year, we have been well and truly shaken not only by 7.1 M quake but by nearly 4000

 aftershocks, some of you will have also lived through them others can only imagine the constant re- minder. We were very

blessed and came through almost unscathed just a few plates and much to our surprise the grandchildren’s plastic plates

 all shattered. Family were also very fortunate.

Year 1
Christmas 2011


 I leave it to the words of a song………

Feb 22nd

You rocked our world in a bad way
On that sad Saturday
Rolling earth and shaking ground
And your unforgettable sound,
Your anger unfurled
You rocked our world
We know you’re part of Mother Nature
You have our respect but still we hate ya
September the 4th we hope you never happen again
But I guess if you do, we’ll have to face ya

June 13th note our portaloo on traffic island

AND WE DID we did over 9100 aftershocks - the worst being Feb 22nd and June 13th and life will never be the same again! We have gone from limbo the Orange Zone – we thought from there it was either – Red we retreat, Green we rebuild or repair BUT they changed the rules yet again and now we are Green Blue TC3 – this means each property need a geotechnical assessment and engineering report to see if houses can be  rebuilt. Most houses here have badly damaged concrete slabs, they will not know until next February at the earliest what type of foundations and land remediation will be necessary to rebuild on the land. The other thing no one is telling is whether our land is still above sea level, the subdivision has sunk and the estuary has risen. We have also been told the problem is area wide for Brookhaven and on that basis we expected to go red. Our house was considered repairable but the new TC3 category has changed that so for now it is the blues of blue zone while we wait for some answers.

New words that came from the earthquakes  

Liquefaction – that silt that just bubbled and poured out of the ground, fortunately ours was only outside but it got into our drain. Some houses in the area had silt in 75% of inside their houses knee deep. 

Munted – meaning wrecked or damaged – everywhere you look in this city it is all too apparent 

Gutted – we were driving passed a 7 story building when my 3 yr old grandson said look grandma the building is gutted. 

Deconstruction – when the gut the inside of building so clean rubble can be dumped in harbour to reclaim land lost in the quakes.

Then came June 13th I had just pulled up at partly re-opened mall when the first quake struck, the parked cars were rocking, the ground was moving, the workers were running I got back in car and drove home, the liquefaction had just started in our street and an hour later the big one hit and it was horrendous bookcase fell, draws fell across the bed, food out of cupboard again, I lost my mobile it had been flung across the room, my husband was at the airport and I needed to keep in touch, the network had gone down finally I kept ringing it and found it under computer keyboard. Liquefaction was bad again and the only way my husband could get home was by 4WD. This time we were a little better prepared with chemical toilet and portaloo across the road, plenty of bottled water.


Then came the snow mixed in with continuing aftershocks, my aunty died on11th August and we got the vigil and were slipping on hailstones as we drove home, that was the beginning of 2nd snow fall and that her funeral was delayed until the following Friday – 8 days!

25th July 2011 portaloo on the island


16th August 2011 Portaloo has gone!

Roads – for 3 months after Feb we could only manage to drive 10 kph and we were told by many our streets were some of the worst around, sometime you could get out main entrance to Brookhaven other times you had to use alternate route, then Ferry Rd (main rd) caved in and we had traffic going through here. Finally they got it temporarily patched and then came June a big hole appeared at our gate and a neighbour got stuck up to his axle trying to get home another neighbour pulled him out and stuck a stick with viz vest in hole until the authorities got there 2 days later with road cones. We still do not have our bus service restored through the area.

Shopping – we lost most of the shops in the area the countdown within walking distance did not re-open and will be demolished along with most of shops in the area, chemist opened after Feb only to have shop cave in in June he has not relocated.  The shopping mall at Eastgate was a real mess most of it has been demolished and Warehouse and Countdown there have only just reopened – it’s only a shadow of its former self. 

Sewer – we had blocked sewer and plumbers were not allow to fix it until the street was cleared, Brian found the trap and remove 12 buckets of silt from our line, while we could still not use it, the shower stopped gurgling up into the loo, so that was progress. For months you never went out without putting the seat down and a heavy weight on top as they progressively cleared the pipe, we heard of many people coming home to clean up the mess. 

Liquefaction – was really bad in parts of our area, our neighbour up the back, one had clean green lawn and the other removed 5 truckloads of silt, some houses had silt knee deep in 75% of inside of house, many floors split and liquefaction poured in, at least 5 house have been abandoned in our street, we were fortunate that our liquefaction was confined to outside the house 12 to 18 inches deep in places. 

Doors – doors have been a big problem as the house twists and turns a little more with each aftershock. 3 doors at back of house were jammed and insurance co said to fix them as we needed an escape route, internal door were all swinging open, wall between garage and house where slab now has 20 ml gap, moved 10ml, there is a gap between carpet and wall, which took several internal doors out of line. Got all that sorted and then after June the front door became stuck, this time insurance told us to use garage door, my argument was if power went off  how do we get out – anyway the got that fixed ourselves.

The whole house has been moved across the section, the assessors reckon it moved several times in different direction and has now settled with 20ml gap to concrete. Our 4 slabs of concrete on drive have slid under the seal on the footpath. It is frightening to think of the force of what happened. Apart from moving sideways we also had vertical drop which caused major damage in CBD. 

Getting around or into the city present a new challenge every day with road works, demolitions, deconstruction everywhere, with the red zone still cordoned off you can only see through all the fences the amount of devastation, some streets are unrecognisable, nothing is left.  The roads in the east are still in a bad way, the trip to Sumner a stark reminder, with the roads so uneven, the shipping containers lining the road at the base of the cliffs and about 500 houses on top and underneath the cliffs red stickered. They say the road over the Evans Pass from Sumner to Lyttelton will never re-open. Lyttelton itself is devastated. Having said that for people on the other side of Christchurch it is pretty much life as usual, but in the east there are many, many people much worse off, than we are, and living in compromised houses. 

Health wise most people are feeling the effects of this year like no other, as we face the reality that life will never be the same again. 

It is difficult to get into the Christmas spirit, so many things are not there or don’t matter, even Christmas shopping is not easy. I have made a special effort to write and try and explain a little of how life is at the moment, it seems a time of endless waiting, people are predicting it might even take 5 years or more to get this sorted. 

We don’t expect to see much happen in CBD for sometime as they are only half way through the demolitions. Then there is the planning the approval before anything can be started, some say give it 10 yrs. Who knows time will tell.

Year 2
Christmas 2012

It is now almost 2 years since the earthquake of February 22nd 2011 – the day our lives changed forever. In the words of the Insurance company our subdivision is PARKED no repair, no rebuilds, and no progress except the empty sections where houses have been demolished.

Our house is liveable apart from one door not opening and 3 windows, but nothing is level, our main concern is that at present the house and
land has no value and we cannot sell, its often the feeling of being trapped and waiting for something to happen.

Every time you think things are moving forward they throw another obstacle in the way. Frist there was apportionment where ECQ and insurers had to agree how much damage was done at each earthquake, and then there were GeoTech reports on each section some insurers will do it others wont and you can’t move forward until it is complete. Then comes the type of foundations needed, then they say some houses will need to be on wooden floors with detached garages and light weight material for the outside, and then they need to determine if each house is above the flood level. Does it all sound like fun?

So where are we in the process, we agreed to rebuild on this site using our existing footprint, we had our GeoTech done in June, this was a core sample drilled down 16 metres of pure sand (some went down 24 metres and all sand!). We are currently waiting to learn what foundations we require. We would like to build rib raft foundations with steel frame house on our existing footprint BUT we may have to have a square or rectangle design (The Cantabrian) on a wooden floor, we can’t do any further planning until we know. Then there is the build queue, building consent and being out of your house for at least 6 months and the longer we wait the harder it will be as the pace of the rebuild starts to find accommodation. We could build elsewhere but we would still have to find over $200,000 for another section, we are not prepared to go into debt at our stage of life, as well as maintain this section and pay rates on it.

Is life stressful – yes?

Year 3

Christmas 2013

Well it feels like a Blue Christmas this year- almost 3 years since the big earthquake and what has happened in past year virtually NOTHING!  I said in last year’s newsletter we hope to be in our new house by this Christmas!

We still live in a house that has no value, we can’t sell it, and we have been trying for 2 years to get it rebuilt but the rules keep changing. You sign documents to replicate the current house (with suitable building materials) , then you are called to resign because now rules say replicate means building with brick and brick is not allowed on our land so now it is has to be “ Build to Budget” (B2B) with a new set of rules.

Lightweight cladding, lightweight roofing, plus rib raft foundations with a re-levelable slab, we still don’t know how deep they will excavate and fill under the slab, a house around the corner had 1.2 metre excavation and back fill. Every step in the process takes forever – the revised building costs, from the insurer, has taken 3 months to update – unreal!

The stress levels are high as you can imagine, the frustration is constant and have taken its toll in past year as you will appreciate. Delays, rule changes, staff changes, lack of communication, we have had 3 insurance case managers so far, 3 building project managers and a builder whose communication is pitiful – these people are supposed to be working for us yet we seem to have to be chasing everyone, we have had to seek legal advice and everything just drags on with no answers.

We won’t be sad to see the end of 2013 we are both feeling the strain and frustration of a year when nothing has happened with our home. What lies ahead is also daunting once the insurer and the builder can agree on a price, then we will be given details of our specific foundation requirements, from there it goes to consent and you have probably all read of the problems in that area. We have been told it takes about 3 months from time of consent until we have to move out. We are watching others with interest to see if others are completed within the 6 month time frame they suggest. We are given an accommodation allowance and it is up to us to make it last, so working out how long we need for as to how much we can afford per week for rent. Plus furniture storage, what we can take with us and what needs to be put into storage.

The theory is that the Project Manager and the Builder are supposed to manage everything – but if what has happened in past year, and if we don’t keep an eye on things, nothing gets done or gets done properly.

Year 4
Christmas 2014
Another snail pace year in terms of progress but we are moving forward.

We had set a goal to be back in our new house for the 4th Anniversary of the Big Quake on 22nd February 2011 but that has been dashed see below.

This is shaping up to be a unique Christmas with all the family in different parts of NZ and us in our temporary accommodation with few of our possessions, no tree, no decorations, no cake tins or cake mixer to bake – had things gone to schedule we would have moved in for Christmas, now we will be lucky to make it by next Easter.

We moved out on 18th June and it took 4 weeks to demolition.

One pleasing aspect of the demolition was how much they recycled, we have seen some houses in neighbourhood where they brought the bulldozer in and everything went, didn’t even take window coverings off, kitchen or anything and these are 15 years old houses. They removed most doors and windows, all internal doors, took the kitchen, heat pump, we took bedroom carpets for a family member.

The concrete tiles and part of floor were dumped in Lyttelton Harbour as part of new breakwater. We were in Queenstown at airport on our way home and we got a call to say house was coming down, we got back in less than 2 hours and it was down – gone, we could not believe how fast it went and no on managed to get us any photos.

The special Foundations needs, are a little different for our land. Excavated 500mm, lined and compacted for the first concrete pour then jacks screwed into that layer, before polystyrene and reinforcing before 2nd pour. That is a RibRaft TC3 relevelable foundation ‘in case of another event’. The boxing used was reusable aluminium

When the concrete was poured 1 heating element left out, so newly laid concrete had to be cut, wire inserted and plastered over.

Instead of just a few days it took 1 month to get steel framing erected and 6 weeks before the lining was added. Then came the real drama The Windows they should take just 4 week that became 12 week with the last window frame being dropped and written off during delivery – another 2 week delay, so we missed the council inspection date – we will be lucky to be closed in by Christmas. Why the delays, well they ran out of steel to make the windows, then they ran out of glass so most window were installed with glazing to be done onsite one day soon we hope.

Our schedule issued 2 weeks ago said before Christmas we were due to have had windows in, garage door on, electrician wired house, cladding on, batts in, gibbed and stopped, skirting’s, internal doors and painter in. Now we might see painter by Feb.

A house was due to be finished in 26 weeks (Christmas week) that became mid-Feb, then became another 6 weeks-(Easter) so when we might make it is anyone’s guess.

My big challenge is the day we move in to draw a line in sand and never look back at all the hassles and challenges we have faced in past 4 years.

Year 5


Well nearly 5 years on from the Earthquakes we have some good news to share. At the beginning of April we moved into our new home such a relief, and great to have a brand new home, it’s like a fresh start!

The maintenance check we had after 3 months is now completed, mainly minor in nature but good to have it all done and tradesmen gone. Even the road cones have finally gone, when we moved in the road outside our house was closed with new sewer pipes being laid, then came storm water repairs, we now have new curbing and sealed roads and newly planted street lawn which is struggling with drought like conditions we are experiencing.

The house is same size as before with some minor interior changes and roofline with the hips taken out, to comply with new regulation. No more brick for us we have to have light weight cladding which is a hebal blown concrete which is plastered over, and no more concrete tiles on roof they are too heavy.  

There are about 400 houses in our subdivision and we estimate about 1/3 rebuilt, 1/3 repaired & 1/3 sold as is where is, herein lies future problems, there are no rules, no code of compliance to bring them up to standard, can’t be insured, or get bank loan – but that is not our problem. We can see it being a nightmare in future as these houses change hands several times.

We have had to do all our own landscaping as it was not covered in our policy, so this has been our focus for several months on, putting up dividing fences and gates to keep backyard secure for the grandchildren.

Now it is time to siGN off from our journey, and move on with life.