Christchurch earthquake: Lyttelton rallies for those in need

By Susie Nordqvist

Diggers demolish a damaged building in Lyttleton as residents console one another. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Diggers demolish a damaged building in Lyttleton as residents console one another. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A Lyttelton man, left with just the clothes on his back after Tuesday's devastating 6.3 earthquake tore apart his hometown, has likened the experience to a war zone.

Bazz Te-Rangi Littlejohn has credited his army training to helping him to pull through the life-changing event which has seen him sleeping rough at the backdoor of his former home, the Lyttelton Hotel.

The hotel was among dozens of buildings which were badly damaged in the blast. More than 90 homes in total have been red-stickered or deemed unsafe to live in by inspectors in the town following the quake.

Te Rangi-Littlejohn, who was the hotel's entertainment manager, said he made the decision to remain at the Lyttelton Hotel in order to keep vigil over thousands of dollars worth of music equipment which remain inside.

He was in the hotel when the quake knocked him to the ground - a situation he said he could only describe as "like an atomic bomb going off".

Te Rangi-Littlejohn said he's now trying to put the quake to the back of his mind so he can focus on helping to rebuild Lyttelton.

The Vietnam vet was among hundreds who turned out to support a market day in Lyttelton, organised by residents to help a community in need today.

Free massages, hotel chocolate, coffee and music were all part of the mix on the sports field at Lyttelton Primary School, an area which is affectionately known as "the grassy" by residents in the port town.

Local vicar Neil Struthers told the Herald the devastation of Tuesday had drawn an already tight-knit community closer together.

"The community itself is fantastic, it's resilient and many of the oldies are saying it's like it used to be pre (Lyttelton) tunnel days."

"We just need to keep supporting each other and rebuilding our beautiful town again with a uniqueness which will make it attractive for people to come and enjoy."

Rev Struthers, whose vicarage was badly damaged in the quake, was due to marry two couples in the town this week, but both weddings had to be postponed.

One of the weddings is now scheduled to take place on the grounds of the vicarage this evening.

Local resident Benjamin James had been operating a record shop in the town for less than a week when the shop was rocked by Tuesday's quake.

He is now contemplating setting up shop from a mobile caravan in the town, after he was able to rescue some stock from his building following the quake.

She Chocolat's Katrina Stadler said the Governor's Bay business was pumping out 60 litres of hot chocolate a day from a 1947 double-decker bus which is navigating its way around various checkpoints across Christchurch city.

Stadler, who was handing out fudge and hot chocolate at the market day today, said she was enjoying being able to do something for her community.

"We are not wanting anything in return but it's amazing how many have been touched by what we are doing."

Another Lyttelton resident, Ludovic Romany, commented on the wonderful community spirit in the town, but said he held fears for three friends who were in Christchurch's central city when the quake struck.

One of them, Dr Ruth Baker, told Romany via text message "in city, hell". He has not heard from her since.

Another, also a doctor, was believed to have been working from the CTV building on Tuesday and a third was a receptionist in the building, he said.

"I just feel so sad, so helpless, but you've just got to keep hoping and carry on," he said.

- NZ Herald

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