On the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake, a former Cantabrian says he will be reflecting on how lucky he and his family are to be alive.

Owen Clough, an author who now resides in Takapau, said he "can't believe it's been five years".

When the quake hit on February 22, 2011, Mr Clough and his wife Kaye were in an underground carpark at Palms Mall, Shirley.

"The mall collapsed around us.


"Concrete was falling down on top of us ... people were getting knocked out as they tried to escape."

He said he vividly remembered the moment when a group of high school girls were coming through the main doors which shattered around them.

"We spent some time patching them up and then we got out of there", he said.

"Everyone realised what was happening and tried to get out - there were people running because their cars were stuck in the liquefaction.

"I've never seen anything like it."

Mr Clough said he didn't think the effects of that day would ever leave him, and he still got a bit nervous in underground areas.

Like other Cantabrians, a lot changed in Mr Clough's life after the February earthquake.

The house the Clough's lived in had to be repaired three times, and they moved in with their daughter so the family could be together.

Later that year, Mr Clough and his co-workers at the Christchurch Tramways were made redundant.

To help those more affected, the newly-retired Mr Clough and his wife began delivering food and water to residents in the Eastern Districts, and took turns cooking meals for those who didn't have access to food or appliances.

"Everybody did what they could, that's the part you remember- everybody wanted to help."

After the earthquakes the couple began roaming the country in their motor home before buying a Takapau section.

During this time, the man who didn't finish fourth form has been working on his first book, Whispers of the Past. Mr Clough said he was very excited for the book's March release, especially as when he began writing he didn't think it would ever be published.

The fiction book is the first in a trilogy, with the second book and half of the third already written.

"It's a bucket list tick for me, to have my name on a book," he said.

- Mr Clough's book Whispers of the Past is due to launch at the Takapau RSA on March 11 at 5.30 pm.