Rodney Hide: Hardship brings out humanity

It is a year since my family moved to Christchurch and we have fallen in love with the place. Photo / NZPA
It is a year since my family moved to Christchurch and we have fallen in love with the place. Photo / NZPA

It is a year since my family moved to Christchurch and we have fallen in love with the place.

We didn't expect to. We came down temporarily to help a friend and now we find ourselves settled.

It remains a beautiful city and Canterbury is stunning. The land that was parched when I was a boy is now lush and green as giant irrigators traverse vast paddocks.

The countryside has shot ahead. Once-sleepy towns are now hot destinations. There are the mountains, the sea and everything in between.

The ageing houses in our street are repaired and look new. It's not just one house spruced up but all of them. Trees line the street and the Heathcote River runs by.

The preschool, the library, the doctor, the supermarket are all in walking distance.

The traffic is easy, everything is more relaxed and the pace is more human.

Public transport is by bus - and it works. It's $6 to park the whole day.

The CBD is sprouting up at such a pace that I get a shock if I am away a week. It's a wonder to watch the piles going in and the buildings going up.

There are still the city ruins and the empty blocks. There are the condemned parts and many still struggle for their insurance pay-out that should have been settled years ago.

But there is more and more progress to be seen. People are looking forward, not back. They are getting on with life.

The people are the best. They are different. Some difference has always been there. Cantabrians are more conservative, more polite, more respectful. But they are different in new ways, too.

They have more time for each other. There's a greater family and community feel. The neighbours tell me they spent the days after the big earthquake sharing a swimming pool for washing water. That breaks down barriers and builds community feeling.

We make sure we know everyone around us because we are well aware we may be calling on them for help.

A couple of times rumbles in the night have woken the girls. I explained to them we are lucky to have plate tectonics. Without that movement we would not have the mountains, the rivers, the blue oceans. There wouldn't be the diversity of life. There wouldn't be us.

They go back to sleep. So do I.

I remember old people reminiscing about the Depression and the wars. They would describe how the times were hard but the people better.

The hardship brought out the best in them and the great challenges brought them together.

I think the earthquakes have been that hardship and challenge.

They have brought out the best in people and reminded us all what's important. It's a shame it takes a disaster to do that.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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