February 19, 2021

Ten years on

I have had little desire to write here for a few months - somehow dealing with the pandemic has been of more importance, and reading about elections, both here and watching the scenes from America too.

I know we have been lucky here in New Zealand - physical distance, being an island, good management, luck, and having well-managed isolation and tracing systems has shielded us from much of the Covid 19 impact. Yes I know there have been occasional managed Covid breakthroughs and that the lockdowns and lack of international tourists have been very hard financially on our tourism and hospitality sectors, let alone Air New Zealand.  However, I know we all watch how the rest of the world has been devastated and many here have lost loved ones overseas.  My son Liam returned to NZ from London in May and has worked remotely from here since, for which I have been immensely relieved, even if he is looking forward to returning to Europe soon. 

The first vaccines were administered to our front-line workers in the managed isolation areas today.  They expect the rollout across us all will take a year and we may still go in and out of lockdowns, but it is good to feel that the end may be in sight. 

On Monday, it is the 10 year anniversary of our February 2011 earthquake.  It wouldn't feel right not to acknowledge it and reflect on the changes we have experienced in the city.  This wonderful video from Deon Swiggs takes me back there and not always in a nice way, but he shows many of the new structures and the exciting ongoing plans for venues - you can see them alongside video footage of what used to be. We have certainly kept many tradesmen busy for the past 10 years. The city is filled with bars, markets, restaurants and activities and we continue to visit it regularly. Many people have moved into the centre.  I have watched Jade Stadium (Lancaster Park originally) and the Catholic Cathedral be demolished from my office window.  Perhaps the biggest change for me is that I appreciate what is there now and have stopped trying to remember how it used to be.

In other news, on Monday I started a new intake of students. We went into a semi-lockdown for three days on Sunday night after three cases were discovered in Auckland so it was an interesting start to the week, but we are back to normal, and after experiencing the earthquake on the second day of the 2011 class intake, I was just glad we still had a building to work from this year.

We have so many students attending our graduation next month that we can't all fit in the Town Hall - which has been rebuilt and is wonderful.  So it is back to the Stadium in Addington. Last year the ceremony was cancelled due to Covid. In 2019 we did hold a Town Hall ceremony when it reopened, but the graduand procession through the central city was cancelled because the Memorial Service for the tragic shooting at the Mosques was taking place in Hagley Park - security was too tight to allow spare police to manage our procession.   

While international travel is off the table, I have managed some trips to Nelson, Akaroa and Kaikoura. All so beautiful and great memories of the sea, mountains, friends and fun times.   I am aware that even small trips like these have not been possible for many of you overseas and that separation from your family for so long must be incredibly hard.  I found just one month of the full lockdown bad enough - really looked forward to taking the shopping over to Mum weekly and having an official reason to be away from home!  I found dawn walks along the river with Poppy were the only way to get out and be away from crowds of other dog walkers all day! 

May you stay safe, and well and let's all look forward to more normal times being possible again soon. 

Kia Kaha




  1. Hello Fiona! How lovely to see you resurfacing :-)
    What wonderful pictures, they are definitely poster-worthy.
    It is good to know that managing the pandemic in a better way than us here in Germany is possible. Fortunately, I have still been able to see my partner every weekend, plus I was always allowed to go for the walks I need so much for my physical and mental wellbeing.
    Working from home is fine; I have been used to it for well over 10 years. I miss going out for a meal - and dancing! But I am so lucky in that all my family and friends are reasonably well, nobody has lost their job and we can all stay in touch in various ways.

    It is hard to believe that 10 years have already passed since that terrible earthquake.

    1. Hi Mieke - I am so glad that you have been able to do so many of the things that matter to keep life bearable and that you are all well. I know it is easy to feel a bit detached from suffering until it happens to you, but I feel helpless for the people who have lost many family members, and for those who have died because of the virus, as I cant imagine how it must be to say goodbye to your loved ones on a screen. I was listening to War of the Worlds again recently - and here we are, ravaged by a tiny virus across the world. I wonder how the world will cope with the next pandemic! Best wishes to you and OK and your family :)

  2. Oddly enough I have been talking several times in the last few days to a friend from Tauranga who was in Christchurch when the quake struck. She was getting information from me because I had access to television and the ongoing updates that she, in Christchurch, could not get because the hotel didn't even have any power. She had no idea how her then partner was because he was at a conference in the city centre.

    Since then so much has changed in the world and you have at least been spared the words of the Covid-19 outbreak. We are in lockdown again at the moment but I spent 6 months in lockdown last year. I've been vaccinated and am hoping that in a few months life on a day to day basis may return to a new normal. It will be next year before anything remotely like the old normal returns. It's always good to know that you are well.

    1. Yes GB - That was one of the weirdest things post quake - being the last to know what was happening while the rest of the country could see it all. We were stunned to see the tv the next day when we managed to drive further out of town to visit friends - with running water, power and a real toilet. Things you take for granted until they aren't there anymore! I confess that even 10 years later I carry my keys, phone and money with me at all times at work - just in case. My office and classroom are now one level higher than I was then - something I could not have handled initially, but am ok with now, as long as I don't think about it too much.

      Six months of lockdown for someone that travels as much as you is a sobering thought - I am glad you were able to get the medical treatment you needed at least - and that you didn't catch Covid while you were being treated - which seems to be happening for many.

      Well done on the vaccine - the roll out seems to have gone very well for the UK. Hopefully it will soon turn the tide for everyone. :)

  3. Yes 10 years ago Time went fast but we will never forget I love how the city is changing although not fast enough to my liking. I absolutely love the River market for example
    We are totally blessed to be able to live normal lives here. In Holland they have a curfew and shops and restaurants are still closed which of course and many have to close their doors forever. I often skype with my mum who is isolated Luckily she received her first vaccine and gets the second one in March which will improve thins for her.
    Take care and Kia Kaha

    1. I hope the vaccine gives everyone the protection they need quickly - too many people have lost their lives, or their ongoing good health to this.
      Some of us form work spent a reflective time at the CTV site to remember at 12.51pm. We had watched the smoke form Ara - knowing there was a fire, watching the smoke, a helicopter carrying a monsoon bucket but not yet aware the extent of the devastation happening so close to us. I spent a year doing a regular pets and vets slot on CTV every Tuesday so was well aware of the layout of the building and the people they lost. :(


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