Catching up with quake affected families

By Jarrod Booker

South Island correspondent Jarrod Booker talks to three people afftected by Christchurch's February 22 disaster

Glenn Prattley's daughter Taneysha and partner Kelsey Moore were crushed to death by falling debris. Photo / 3News
Glenn Prattley's daughter Taneysha and partner Kelsey Moore were crushed to death by falling debris. Photo / 3News

Glenn Prattley

Glenn Prattley, who lost his partner Kelsey Moore, 18, and 5-week-old daughter Taneysha when the February quake showered them with building debris, is struggling to start again.

While battling with the ongoing effects of a serious leg injury suffered in the quake, Mr Prattley is also bracing himself for some painful reminders of his loss next month.

Taneysha's first birthday would have been on January 17, a day before Mr Prattley's birthday.

Mr Prattley expects to be holidaying with his family in the central South Island town of Twizel when the birthdays are marked.

"I am hoping to take some balloons over there, and write some messages [to Taneysha] on them and let them go."

He is still struggling to get his head around what happened. Miss Moore and Taneysha were trailing behind Mr Prattley and his sister Rochelle in central Christchurch when the debris came down on them.

"There's no way I will ever forget about it. What I would like is just for things to get a wee bit easier. Every now and then the whole thing hits me, and I end up in tears."

Mr Prattley managed to push his sister out of the way of falling debris before he was struck and blacked out, but he is still haunted by the fact he could do nothing for his partner and baby.

With a steel rod and screws in his leg, his ability to work has also been very limited.

"I'm having a wee bit of trouble getting the strength back in it and everything."

Brian Kennedy

After losing his wife, Faye, in the collapse of the Canterbury Television (CTV) building last February, Brian Kennedy is looking forward to putting his "annus horribilis" behind him.

Having got through a subdued Christmas with his two daughters, his hope for the new year is that people will take responsibility for building failures that contributed to deaths in the tragedy.

But based on what he has seen so far in the royal commission of inquiry into the earthquakes, he is not optimistic.

"No one's prepared to say, 'Yeah, I stuffed up'," Mr Kennedy said.

"But it would be nice if someone did say that. It probably would have to be someone who is about to retire, I imagine. You're not going to get someone who will possibly jeopardise their employment. I understand that."

He said people avoided talking about the loss of his wife, but the many gaps where buildings have been knocked down in Christchurch are constant reminders.

Mr Kennedy worked through Christmas apart from the statutory days, but will take time off on February 22 for the one-year anniversary of the quake, and in March when the royal commission investigates the collapse of the CTV building.

Amy Cooney

She had all but given up on a life in Christchurch. But earthquake survivor Amy Cooney has had a change of heart.

After losing her brother Jaime Gilbert, and almost her own life, when caught in the collapse of a central-city bar where they worked, she decided it would be best for herself, her partner and three children to pack for Australia.

But after making plans and even attending a leaving party, Ms Cooney now says she should help rebuild the city she saw being destroyed.

"I remember thinking ... looking down Manchester St moments after being pulled from the rubble, 'How the hell is Christchurch going to recover from this?'" Ms Cooney told the Herald.

"I think it shows strength if you can stick by it. If I can show my kids you can go through hard times ... that's one of the best lessons."

Since the quake, Mr Gilbert's partner and children have moved to Tauranga and Ms Cooney's mother has shifted to Brisbane. Ms Cooney's partner, builder Steve Corbett, will be part of the rebuilding effort in Christchurch, and she hopes to join him.

"I would love to be part of the building industry and ensure no more unreinforced masonry [buildings] are allowed. If I can take a year out to study and then get involved - that would be really cool."

Ms Cooney said keeping her children near the support of their friends and staying close to her brother's grave were other factors in deciding to stay put in Christchurch.

She held the hand of her brother, 22, as they lay trapped beneath the debris of the collapsing bar - a still-vivid memory.

A headstone for Mr Gilbert will be unveiled on March 1, a year after he was laid to rest at a local marae.

- NZ Herald

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