Canterbury Quakes — Remembering February 22, 2011

Recently, I sent out a request for others to share their memories of the Christchurch earthquakes that occurred five years ago. To my pleasant surprise, some have come forward with stories so moving that I felt it was important to share them with the world. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the stories sent to me about that day as well as sharing a few of my own. The February 2011 quake changed our lives forever, but has made the city of Christchurch a stronger community.

Below is a poem from Jean Flannery, first written in honour of of the first anniversary of the February quake.

Christchurch Cathedral After Feb 2011 Quake (Source:

Christchurch Cathedral After Feb 2011 Quake (Source:

by Jean Flannery

The first big quake hit Christchurch in September 2010,
Causing panic and damage but things settled a bit and then
Another big one to follow: but that didn't so much disrupt life
As that of February 2011, where death and destruction were rife.

As the ground opened up, great buildings came down
And huge devastation was wrought all around.
Destruction so vast it was hard to comprehend
How this lovely, loved city it ever could mend.

Yet amidst all the carnage came tales of the brave,
Risking their own lives others to save.
All came together in face of this dark
Time and the spirit did spark.

Midst all of the rubble and all of the mud
Each helped the other as best that they could.
Offers of shelter, of labour, of food,
Of whatever was needful, showed neighbours good.

It took quite a time, and took quite a fight,
To get back to the city both water and light.
So many were homeless at least for a while
And yet all around you would see people smile.

Though many could never return to their home
And others decided to move 'cross the foam,
By far the most part were determined to stay
And look to the future, a dawning bright day.

Yes the ground will keep shaking along rim of fire
And who knows when once more it will seem full of ire?
But listen to hope, and to singing, to mirth
And know that these Kiwis will not flee their earth.

Recovery is quite agonisingly slow
And sometimes there seems only clearance to show.
But so many are working at putting things back,
Differently maybe but filling the lack.

Buildings pulled down before new can arise,
So much to do before gaining the prize
Of a city, like phoenix reborn once again:
A triumph of hope on Canterbury plain.

Kia Kaha Christchurch

About the poet:

Jean Flannery was born in 1944 in Bletchley, England, also home to Bletchley Park. In early adulthood, she lived in several different countries around the world, returning to settle back in England in 1974. In 2014, she moved to Christchurch, to join her daughter and family already living here. Her writings include her childhood memoir Bucks, Beds and Bricks, on growing up in post-war England, and Variegated Verse, a collection of poems written over a number of years.  Both books are available through Amazon. You can also find information about the books here.

If you have a story that you would like to share, I want to hear it. Visit here for more information on Project Share Your Stories.

P.S. I'd love to meet you on Twitter or Facebook.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ below. You can read other posts like it here.

© Copyright, Jean Flannery 2016

Posted in Earthquakes, Remembrance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.