Two years ago I took my eldest son down to Christchurch to start University. I thought we would spend a couple of days together exploring the city before I left him behind to get on with his life. He had other ideas, it was a bye Mum, and he was off into the scrum of freshers week. Leaving me to explore the city for myself, which was great, I had a wonderful time going to all the things I would enjoy, and felt so proud of him. The pic above is one I took on that trip. Since leaving him there, in what I thought was a safe city. He has gone through two major earthquakes, with out a scratch on him, thankfully.
The beautiful, garden city of Christchurch and a lot of its people have not been so lucky. The devastation of last Tuesdays' earthquake is still difficult to understand. Much has been said all over the world's press about it, about all the big things that have happened. I would like to mention some of the little things that made me proud to live in this country.
A big thumbs up to the large companies that have bent over backwards to do something.
Air New Zealand - They almost immediately increased the flights in and out of Christchurch and lowered their fares. Also made it possible to move flights either to get out of Christchurch earlier or to get back to Christchurch without any extra charges, for the next few weeks.
The Warehouse - Giving out free food and water to anyone that could go and collect it.
Fisher and Pykal - Setting up three free laundries in the city. A very little thing, but a very important thing.
Sanitarium (the breakfast cereal company) - Giving out water from its factory.
Telecom - Free phone calls from all phone boxes that they have got working in Christchurch, so people can let family know they are ok. Telecom are also collecting up old type house phone,s that can be plugged in with out any electricity, from all over the country and shipping them down to Christchurch residents.
Five of the large banks - Suspending payments and interest on loans for Christchurch residents.
The local health board - All visits to Doctors and all prescriptions are free in Christchurch.
These are just a few of the amazing helpful things I remember hearing about. I do not know if this would have happened anywhere else. Then there are all the little small businesses helping out. Like the bike shop that was offering free repairs to bikes, to make it easier for people to get around a city where the roads are mostly torn up. The people who were giving away water from their bore hole. All the thousands of students that volunteered to help. The people all over the country that are offering their homes to the people who have been made homeless by the quake. The people of Wellington who opened their homes to the displaced tourists who lost all their documents and luggage.
On the flip side I have got to say a big thumbs down to the idiots who are taking advantage of the situation. The looters, need I say more. The store that was charging $15 for a two litre bottle of milk that should have been just over $2. The individual who went to the queues for water and tried to sell water containers for $20 each, while others were giving theirs away for free. The petrol station in a town 2hrs away from Christchurch that hiked the price of petrol up by an extra 25%. And especially to the looters, who seeing the teenage children getting the news that their Mother would not be coming out of the wreckage of the CTV building alive, calmly went to their house and burgled it.
For all this gloom, it is very, very heartening to know that the good massively out ways the bad. For every idiot there seems to be hundreds of people who want to help, and who want to make a difference.
One idea that was suggested to me yesterday, sounded really good to me. It is not something that will help now, but something that could be done in the future when the people of Christchurch are starting to rebuild their lives and their city. In every community it is the small businesses that help gell the community together. The hairdressers where you can go for a gossip, the local corner shop, the drycleaners, the bakers, the local chippy and takeaway shop. Even if their buildings are not damaged I would imagine that their fixtures and fittings are. How long does it take for them to get new from the insurance? Small businesses don't have the capital to refurnish from their own funds. And without an income, will these businesses be able to continue? Wouldn't it be good if other small traders, from all over the country, could get their spare items to them. I don't know if its possible? I don't know how you would go about doing it? But if you or somebody you know has the expertise to do this, pass the idea on, maybe there is somebody out there with the knowledge.