Monday, 24 February 2014

Three Years Since the Big Christchurch Earthquake

On Saturday, we had the anniversary of Christchurch’s big earthquake that wrecked our city and killed 185 people. It was a magnitude of 6.3 but it was only 5 kilometres deep, so that is why it made a city fall apart.

The Christchurch Cathedral on Feb 23, 2011

The earthquake happened at 12:51pm so I was having my lunch at Selwyn House School. Then suddenly there was a huge shake and a rumble and the school started shaking violently. The school pool started leaking its water all through all our courtyard which is funny because it is an indoor pool. The girls started screaming and running around in circles. I watched on as my friend ran out from the atrium in horror and fright. I kept screaming her name to come to me as fast as she could.  As I did so, I hung to a pole near me in terror. Finally after what seemed like 5 minutes it all stopped. My friend and I ran to our assembly point and waited. We sat down just as it started to shake again. We got given duvets for warmth until our parents came. When I saw my dad hurrying towards me, I ran to him and clung on to him for as long as I could.

Dad drove me home and after about 30mins of traffic we came to our house. I sat on the lawn opposite my driveway since I was not allowed inside my house. Our family members came to us to help getting clothes and necessities out of our house. When they brought out my bag of clothes, I heard the one word that I didn’t want to hear “ruined” followed by “completely fully ruined. “ I didn’t like the sound of this or understand. 

A ruined house in Christchurch- photo from

After three weeks at my Grandma and Grandad’s house, we heard news of our own house. 
Red-zoned. I didn’t know what that meant so I went up to my mum and said quite shortly, 
“Can you tell me what a red zoned house is?” 
She chuckled. She sat me down with a very serious face and said,
“It means we can’t live there anymore” 
“Ever?” I replied.
“Sadly, never don’t mention anything about the red zoned or our house to your dad.” She wouldn’t tell me why I shouldn’t bring it up. I, then burst into tears at the thought that where I’d lived nearly my whole life was the one place where I couldn’t go. 

A red sticker on a dangerous building- photo by

Later that year, we had good news- yellow stickered! That meant we could get the rest of our furniture and belongings out but the house had to be demolished. (A red sticker would mean it was to dangerous to go inside and would have to be demolished with all our things still inside it!) I still couldn’t mention it to dad s
ince he wasn’t coping with losing our house well and when I mentioned it he looked like he was on the verge of tears. To this day, he’s coping quite well with the loss of our house but never wants to come to the old section so there is still some sadness in his feelings. Losing your home is a hard thing to go through.

The February 22nd Earthquake affected a lot of us, including some of my schoolmates. My friend Hana lost her house- it is getting demolished in the coming months, as it was too damaged to save got badly damaged as well. It was also in the Red Zone which means that land will never be built on again. Eilish, on the other hand can stay in her house, but it has to have lots of repairs from the damage. Imogen’s house also got red zoned and they had to move out and their house has been demolished. 
Many of us know someone who died or lost a family member. It is so sad for those people.
Nearly everyone in Christchurch has had damage to their homes and is waiting for repairs.

A damaged house in Christchurch

However, the new Christchurch is going to be brilliant! I am looking forward to the new Performing Arts Precinct and the new sports centre. After all the rumbles, we have something good to look forward to- a new, safer city with more activities to do. Deep deep down in my body, there is a part of me that is able to look on the bright side of the earthquakes- a new and refreshed city........... ah just think about!

An artist thinks our new city might look like this- photo by the Christchurch City Council


  1. That is a brilliant story and it really made me think about some other people and what they had to go through.


  2. Danielle, your dialog with your mum about what it means for a home to be red-zoned is very moving. It really shows how strong your mum was in that difficult moment...and how much that difficult news was painful for you to hear.

    You've written a poignant account of an event I remember reading about from afar. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Mrs. Kriese, 7th grade teacher from Texas

  3. Hi Mrs Kriese, Danielle here
    Thank you so much for your comment! It means so much to me, to hear such a brilliant and amazing comment, and you've realised how much the earthquake has affected us. My whole class is amazed that you're from Texas and you've gone onto OUR blog out of heaps around the world. We are wondering if you have a class blog that we could follow? I'm so glad you liked the post.
    Check out our blog for more updates!
    Danielle 8C Selwyn House School

  4. Yes, Danielle, we do have a class blog! My seventh graders and I blog at I've connected with your teacher, and I told her that I will add your class blog to our blog roll so we can all communicate. How exciting!

    I wish the best for you, Hana, Imogen and others as you courageously go forward into the future and your new homes. You are very strong young people. My own father and stepmother live and work in my stepmother's native Japan, and they went through the devastating Kobe earthquake of 1995. I know from their experience that rebuilding can bring a community together and bring people closer. It sounds as though your city is taking care of its citizens beautifully.

    My students and I will be visiting your class soon!

    Mrs. Kriese

  5. Mrs Kriese,
    Thanks so much i'm glad you have connected to our blog. Thanks for the web address and i will tell Hana Imogen and the others that you wish them the best and i agree about taking care of it's citizens beautifully thanks!
    Danielle 8C


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