I first came to visit Christchurch on a long weekend a couple of years before the earthquake of February 2011. I then visited about two weeks after that dramatic event with the head of HR NZ Felicity to visit staff impacted; then again a couple of years after that and now three years later. It has been an incredible experience to see what is going on here.
It is a city severely impacted and affected by what happened in 2011 but not defined by it. It is a credit to human optimism and resilience to see what has taken place over the past 6 years. 70% of the CBD buildings had to be or will be demolished; they are spending an estimated NZD 100 million each week in construction and would do more but lack enough workers even though many have come over from Ireland, the Philippines and China to assist.I am not sure where all the money is coming from but this is a city in transition from a traditional style quasi 1950’s England oriented town to a vibrant modern city filled with street art (even Rome from Melbourne has painted a massive wall), container malls, a “cardboard Cathedral” built by a post earthquake expert architect from Japan and a vision for a bright future which will see more and more visitors arrive. I think, that like Napier in the 30’s, it will totally reinvent itself and thrive for years to come.Of course it is not all perfect – (there is still an ongoing debate and squabbling about the famous city centre cathedral (now deconsecrated) – “pull it down or spend squillions restoring it”?) – I know what I’d do – but generally I have been overwhelmed by how cool it is here and I have diarised to visit again in 5 years’ time.
Also proud to see that ANZ Centre is close to being finalised and the ANZ branch is about as funky and cool as I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a few!