Recent shorts

The Press

Hands grasped on holy ground

Amid the dust and the rock and the grit, all John Abraham could see was a single, gloved hand.

For 20 minutes, that felt like an hour, Abraham had desperately hauled fallen rocks from inside the Durham Street Methodist Church.

He had called out and heard a moan. Then he saw it. Its fingers were wiggling. Abraham followed the arm down to a shoulder and pulled debris away from a face. (continue reading)

Haere ra to Kia Ora St

There are no signs to Kia Ora St.

It was just over a month ago when Tracy Carlyle first noticed that the last of them were gone. It was a short and largely forgotten stretch of Bexley – filled with potholes and empty sections and, for its residents, memories. There were 23 years of those for Tracy and her husband, John. It was the only home her daughter, Sasha, had ever known. It was meant to be the first and only one they ever bought.

So Tracy called up Christchurch City Council to ask for the signs to be replaced. How else would people know that there was a street that existed there, just off Pages Rd, where a group of neighbours once made a pact that no matter what happened they would stay in touch? In the early days they agreed that they could park caravans in each others gardens while homes were being rebuilt. Then the pact changed. No matter where they moved to, they would check in on each other. They would still be neighbours. They called themselves the Kia Ora six. (continue reading)

Man lives on in the red zone

Robert Jemmett stands shirtless in aqua blue shorts and surveys his domain. All around him is emptiness. His neighbours are long gone, but where, he cannot say.

For some reason they listened to the Government and not to him, he says. Now their houses are behind wire fences with warnings that hazardous materials lie within. There is broken glass, wrought iron gates off their hinges and crumpled roofs.

At the centre of his cul de sac is a grey Civil Defence port-a-loo – the last left over in the residential red zone.

At the front of Jemmett’s home is a vegetable garden, a freshly mown lawn, an apple tree and a glasshouse with tomatoes on the vine. It is, Jemmett says, like an oasis in the middle of a desert.

After the mail stopped coming and the street numbers weren’t important anymore he started calling it ”Twin Rivers” – for the Avon and the nature of the street when it flooded.

”I’ve always wanted 10 acres in the country,” Jemmett says, squinting into the sun.

”Why would I want to go anywhere else?”

But this is not the country. It is just off a main thoroughfare in Avondale where a long, blue water hose, put in after the Christchurch earthquake, winds down a road bearing a ”no exit” sign. (continue reading)



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