June 28, 2011

Christchurch Zones

Christchurch has a new zoning system. As well as the current, cordoned, central red zone, the no go danger do not advance beyond this point part, we now get to live in a new red, orange, white or green zone.

As someone says, quakeopoly..... and as usual, there is some humour to be found in this Zone Guide.

And then there is the more serious side... as people in these zones try to fathom what on earth this is going to mean to their futures, here, or elsewhere.

Orange, red, white and green - in the good old days they were simply colours or Cluedo characters.
Now they have become statements about people's lives. When I hear people, myself included, ask others, "What colour are you?" it sounds impolite, discriminatory even.
Kermit the Frog sang a song about how it wasn't easy being green, and I find myself feeling guilty that I'm living in a rented green-zoned house, which means it's in the "go" zone. For the orange people in the "hold" zone their lives remain in limbo waiting like that unfortunate character Winnie in Samuel Beckett's play Happy Days, as she becomes buried in a mound of dirt.
Sick and tired of being given the mushroom treatment and left in the dark for months by Cera, at last those in the red zone have been offered a deal, but one doesn't envy them buying land off greedy developers, borrowing heavily from the banks to afford land in the west, and the battle with insurance companies over the ghastly fine print....... 
Later, I trawl back through sent and received messages on my cellphone going back for the past few months and see R U OK? writ large a million times over.
It's a wonder that this cut to the chase question, which says it all, hasn't wound up emblazoned across T-shirts.

In some ways life is fine. We are "green". We R OK. We will continue and find resilience and make the most of what we have and look for replacements for what we have lost. On other days, the enormity of the changes and the uncertainty about the future and the ongoing shakes and the impact the event is having on friends, students, strangers; the constant feeling of loss as I see another building gone, the view changed somehow, somewhere, and the uncertainty of what is open, working, moved, gone, all feels quite overwhelming.

It is hard to write about. But it is happening.... no one here can be unaffected but the best bit is we are all in that space... we find common ground with others instantly... asking where were you in the 7.4, 6.3's etc breaks down many barriers!

For a real map of the city and the zones, and their colour coded meaning, go to http://www.cera.govt.nz/
or here

There is a great interactive map too;


  1. I take a deep breath. You're right about finding common ground. One of the things I like about the New Normal is that you share your "where were you" stories with complete strangers, and end up close friends within half an hour.

  2. is it ever going to stop? still praying...

  3. Once again I have no words. Every time I look at Twitter on my phone or Mac there is another set of quakes. How can Christchurch and its inhabitants ever return to what most of us consider normal?

  4. It was a little strange to travel away twice recently and see smooth roads, and not think about it for minutes at a time... also interesting how attuned we have become to noise and rumbles and vibrations. I am starting to notice the adrenaline surges ore, perhaps because there are longer gaps between them.
    Normal.... things that are familiar and routine.... I guess we all imagine they will settle eventually, however long it takes, and take lessons from people who survived the blitz and ongoing long wars. Saying I am so over it really doesn't help - and really, life goes on - for a large chunk of the city there has been no earthquake... work, home, schools continue. If you visited, you would be struck by the boring normality of everyday life for most of the population here - and the contrast with the utter wretchedness of life for the displaced and the waiting to hear verdicts... poles apart.


Comments welcome....always love to hear what you think!


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