They're rural Kiwis so they are "just getting on with it".

But six months after the giant magnitude 7.8 earthquake, many are still suffering. And many in silence.

The quake tore through North Canterbury and Marlborough in the early hours of November 14 last year.

It claimed two lives, pancaked buildings, sheared apart roads and farmland, collapsed mountainsides, and lifted the Kaikoura seabed 2m.

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Residents and businesses of red-stickered properties are dealing with insurers and Earthquake Commission (EQC).

And as nights get colder, some are still living in sheds while others wonder whether their businesses will survive.

"It's going to be a tough winter," Kaikoura District Mayor Winston Gray concedes.

State Highway One - the South Island's main arterial road and rail route - is still closed after unprecedented landslides and damage.

Local contractors are flat-out.

A temporary workers village for the hundreds of road and rail rebuild workers will bring a jobs boost for a local economy without so many of its global and domestic tourists that it relies on so heavily.

Government aid packages have helped but some wonder whether it'll be enough.

Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley is especially worried for businesses on SH1 south of Kaikoura.

"I've got some really distressed businesses who, through no fault of their own, don't know if they will last winter."

The road was reopened in December but has closed sporadically, as it is currently, while further repairs are done. Heavy winter rain could mean more closures.

Meanwhile, traffic is diverted through the Inland Rd via the small North Canterbury town of Waiau, which was also badly quake-damaged.

Waiau, population 300, was smashed by the quake. Homes were destroyed and several key community buildings were closed, including its only pub, bowling club, Scouts den, swimming pool, kindergarten, and church.

Locals still feel that they have been forgotten in the wake of what was officially coined as 'the Kaikoura earthquake'.

Some are still living in sheds. But the tight-knit community is looking out for each other.

"We have felt somewhat forgotten," says Waiau resident and community volunteer, Alex Bush.

"But it's a rural mindset of, you just suck it up and move on."

The last six months have passed quickly, she said.

"The Waiau community has really stepped up," Bush said.

"We're getting a lot of stuff done for ourselves."

Petrea Allpress-Green was too sacred to sleep in her quake-damaged Waiau house in the days after the November 14 quake, preferring to sleep in a tent.
Petrea Allpress-Green was too sacred to sleep in her quake-damaged Waiau house in the days after the November 14 quake, preferring to sleep in a tent.

They're fundraising to fix the damaged school pool and last Saturday its local pub reopened in a temporary building erected in the car-park of the quake-damaged historic 107-year-old Waiau Lodge Hotel.

Pub co-owner Michelle Beri said it's been "a long hard road".

She still lives in a portacom while her business partner lives in a shed.

"A lot of people are still struggling," Beri said.

Although much of North Canterbury is only now recovering after three years of drought - on top of the quake disruption and damage - Dalley says his community remains in good spirits.

"Being a largely rural community there's a huge amount of self-reliance and an attitude to just get on with it," he said.

Support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which this week announced a $5m funding support package for quake-struck farmers and growers, Rural Support Trust, and local medical centres, has helped people move on, he said.

But Dalley has criticised "Wellington-based decision-making" of the Health Ministry and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) which he says has slowed the recovery.

In Kaikoura, some sectors and industries have been hit harder than others.

A new harbour is due to open around September/October.

Tourism will be slow through the winter while roads remain closed or circuitous.

And high street retailers are doing it tough, Gray said.

"There's a lot of frustration," Gray said.

"But it's been a huge event and I hope upon hope that the sun will shine come spring time and things will improve."