Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past
by Alison Parr, with Rosemary Baird (Penguin Random House, $45)
Reviewed by Ruth Brassington
The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land. We had regular earthquake drill, running out through the “open-air” doors onto the playing field to await futher instructions. I’d grown up knowing that the top of the cathedral was green because the copper top had replaced the original stone, lost in an earlier earthquake. So, unlike a more recent Christchurch population, I grew up aware that Christchurch could have earthquakes – and that a large area to the east of the city wasn’t inhabited because the land was sand and marsh.
Then Christchurch got its recent shocking events. A couple of years on, Alison Parr and Rosemary Baird gathered memories and responses from a cluster of Christchuch’s older inhabitants who remember “their” Christchurch – and as well as memories of place and times, they express their feelings, along with their thoughts, about the post-earthquake future of the city.