Monday, May 12, 2014
Four Houses, Four Families, Four Stories
I have hundreds of photographs of abandoned red zone houses in Christchurch.
I only have forty or so recorded stories from some of the earthquake-battered people who once lived in them - people who then, in the thick of thousands of after-shocks, were only too willing to talk about one of the most shattering and damaging experiences of their lives.
I often wonder now, as I walk or cycle through these sad, sad abandoned residential areas, what has become of all of the people - not only the ones I interviewed but all the others too. The thousands who have made off to other places. I wonder what they have taken with them - what memories, what dreams and aspirations, what physical treasures that were too important to leave behind
With every passing week, more and more of these abandoned red-zoned homes are being demolished.
What were once busy suburban communities filled with spinning clothes lines, screaming kids, yelling parents, loud stereos and idling cars, have been reduced to flat, barren tracts of land scraped bare of their suburban histories. Every gone. The few saved trees and the freshly sown grass no replacement for family life.
It's a good thing that so many people have gathered these family stories.
Because before long, we will need to be reminded of them - reminded of the families who once made up the once-vibrant communities of east Christchurch; reminded of the merciless power of Nature to wreck and reshape the human spirit.