Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reflection on the Christchurch Earthquake

Christchurch's icon cathedral damaged (twenty people are believed dead in the rubble). Update  5th March no bodies found in cathederal.
At round about 1pm on Tuesday February 23rd the city of Christchurch was hit by a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The second such major event in six months. The last quake at 7.1 had happened in the early hours of the morning and there was no loss of life. This quake was shallower and closer into the city and the death toll now stands at 103. With several hundred more still missing. It struck at lunch time in what is the second largest city in New Zealand. Buildings were already damaged or weakened by the previous quake.

Here at Auckland University we were in the middle of an orientation tour, new students being shown round the university. I had been joking with some students from Christchurch that they must be pleased to be in a place where the ground wasn't shaking. half an hour later such humour just seemed to be so inappropriate.

It has been amazing watching the response to this disaster, seeing the mayor of Christchurch,Bob Parker, at the helm coordinating things. Working almost round the clock, reportedly suffering from broken ribs. Our Prime Minister John Key has also shown good leadership and timely action, he has been willing to make some of the hard announcements about casualties etc.  Emergency services risking life and limb to enter buildings to search for survivors. The way the whole community and country has come together to help now and look at providing aid, care and resources to look at recovery in  the long haul.  Offers of help coming from all over the world and seeing Urban rescue teams arrive from across the Tasman in Australia, the US, Japan, UK and elsewhere.

It was heartening to see the response from Students, Canterbury and Lincoln Universities are in Christchurch and studies are disrupted for the second semester in a row, however there are over a thousand students who have formed the Student volunteer army to help out and do what they can. Here in Auckland the Students association have launched an appeal and are raining thousands of dollars simply asking Students to give them their loose change.

My thoughts and my prayers go our to the people of Christchurch. people who have lost loved ones and who have lost everything, people tasked with the gruesome roll of recovering bodies, those dealing with emergency aid and those tasked with the daunting and what must seem impossible task of rebuilding. Please pray for them and if you can act. there are various relief funds available. Online donations can be made to the Salvation Army or Red Cross etc.


  1. The one big question is.. who does John Key pray to, when he says his prayers are with the people.. considering he is a self confessed agnostic?

    (ps, I think you mean "good leadership" rather than "god leadership" :P)

  2. Thank you geoff for pointing out the grammatical error. It was simply a typo rather than a theological political confusion. I don't consider John Key a deity.

    AS for what deity he prays to... that is a good question. there is a real sense that the word prayer has become a word toc over all faiths and when a politician says our thoughts and prayers are with you they are trying to express the sense of solidarity of the people of a coutnry and a world with those in need.

    Maybe in the face of a disaster and devastation like we are seeing in Christchurch this week there is a sense that we mortals simply need to cry out to a greater power John Keys background would be such that if that deity had any shape it would come from a Jewish/Christian environment.

    In the end I know God hears such heartfelt cries.