Christchurch

March 26

Our stay in Christchurch started with an early morning walking tour to hear how settlers who came from England in 1850 recreated their version of the British class society here. Tradespeople, artisans and labourers travelled along with the landed gentry, their sponsors. The centre of the city is a lovely green space with mature trees and graceful bridges over the Avon River. The statue of Captain Cook is undergoing reinforcement to prevent further damage from earthquakes.

While many of the heritage buildings were damaged in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and subsequently destroyed, the city still retains some of its British origins in the traditional neo-Gothic architecture of Christ’s College, a boys’ school, and the University of Canterbury.

Our walking tour covered the areas most severely affected by the earthquakes. Some buildings have been demolished, others have been condemned and fenced off. Vacant lots are scattered down city blocks and are used for parking, green spaces, art installations and shops and services in shipping containers. The Anglican cathedral was severely damaged; its future is in limbo as it has been the subject of legal action.

Just like the statue of Captain Cook, these figures have been strapped in place until further repairs.

With the destruction of the Anglican cathedral, a new building was commissioned. The Transitional Cathedral was designed by a Japanese architect and constructed 2 1/2 years after the quakes. It’s referred to as the ‘cardboard cathedral’ because of the sonotubes used in its roof design. The offices and kitchen along the sides of the structure are repurposed shipping containers. These were a common sight in the weeks and months immediately following the quakes and were used as shopping malls, temporary offices and storage. Some are still in use as cafes, tourist offices and souvenir shops.

Some final scenes of the city, including the memorial site for the victims of the March 15 terrorist attack.

A monument to Kate Sheppard and the suffragettes who secured the vote for New Zealand women in 1893, the first country in the world to grant universal suffrage.

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