Back in Christchurch again after Christmas; back working at the motels out near the airport. We had a chance for a few hours off one day, and headed back to the CBD. We’d done a bus tour a few weeks before but this time we wanted time to digest what we saw; walk around and look and see. We made a bee-line for the Re-Start mall – I’d loved telling tourists it was the mall made from shipping containers. Those who hadn’t heard of it understood “shipping containers” and were intrigued. Hence the brilliance of the concept.
It gave people somewhere to go – somewhere to do something normal like shopping. In the middle of one of the most abnormal places hopefully we’ll ever see. It was bringing people in to the CBD; to shop, to have lunch, a coffee, a look around. And with a few more people around more businesses would be encouraged. So it was a seed – a leap of faith and hope. A start. A re-start.
From there we headed off to wander the streets. We were heading somewhere, but it was hard to get our bearings. There is a lot of bare land and not many landmarks any more. I was taken with the random acts of art. The artists were taking advantage of the chaos to use some walls for art, temporary mostly but it’s a temporary sort of place generally. Something good/lovely/interesting comes of something terrible.
We were heading for the Transitional Cathedral – aka the Cardboard Cathedral. There seems to be lots of opinions about lots of things in Christchurch, and lots of them regarding the old (crumbling) Cathedral and the (temporary) Transitional Cathedral. I like the cardboard one. It was honest, and interesting and it’s somewhere nice for people to go to hang out and reflect.
Wandering around downtown Christchurch is sobering and sad and puzzling. Nothing prepared us for this. Not for the people of Christchurch I imagine. And not for us neighbours. It’s like it’s broken and they’re not sure whether they can put it all back together again.
And then there’s the old Christchurch Cathedral, the crumbling one. Now there’s a forlorn sight. Broken and exposed. If it was a horse it’d be shot. If it was a person, it’d be time to withhold treatment and let it go. A lot of people in Christchurch won’t let it go.
And then there are some things downtown that go on as it nothing has changed. The boats on the Avon. The tourists on the trams. People enjoying the sunny day and the markets. And maybe that’s the thing. It is not about the buildings. He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata. What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.
Gallery of photos – Christchurch CBD – December – January 2013-2014
Click on thumbnails to see full size. (And then you can click through them)