Thoughts and feelings on the Christchurch earthquake from Australia

On Tuesday afternoon the worst natural disaster to ever hit New Zealand struck in the form of an Earthquake almost directly under the city of Christchurch. My initial reaction was shock that something like this could hit Christchurch twice in six months, and then the realisation that this is much worse than before. It took an anxious 30 hours but I can report that all of my family and friends are safe, although some of them have had their houses destroyed.

The use of social media, in particular Twitter, has been really helpful in getting in touch and finding out about the status of people over the past few days. At the same time it has also meant that bad news and rumours have travelled incredibly quickly. Despite not coming from Christchurch at times it has felt like I have. New Zealand’s two degrees of separation means that everyone will know someone who is involved and collectively we are in mourning.

Unfortunately some people in Sydney (certainly not all) don’t understand this collective bond. I have had a really tough day at university where I have literally been told I shouldn’t care, worry, be upset, or shocked because my family is safe and that is all that matters. Or even better “you weren’t upset because of the Queensland floods, you shouldn’t be upset about Christchurch.” But I am upset, I am in shock, these are my friends, my family, and their community that has been torn apart and destroyed in this.

I am sick of people shooting off their mouths with comments like “NZ has poor building standards” or “whatever, these events happen” sort of comments. The reality is this: if you don’t know what is going on please don’t shoot your mouth off. It is hard being so far away, it is mentally tough, part of me wants to get on the next flight into New Zealand and put my hands to work.

Most people in Australia have never experienced an earthquake. I have only been in a few small ones – three I think. And look, New Zealand gets earthquakes, we are not called the shaky isles for nothing! From a young age we are trained in school to duck and cover in event of an earthquake, we have earthquake drills like you have fire drills. Ads regularly run on TV telling us to check on our emergency kits. And a few times a year an earthquake will occur that causes minor damage, it is a fact of life.

However, despite all this preparation, and all the warnings about that one day “the big one” will hit, when it does things still hurt. Sure the response both local, national and international has been swift and impressive, and many people have survived because of this. But this does not stop the pain of loss, it does not make it nothing to worry about, and it does not prepare us to be not upset – so if you don’t understand this please just keep quiet.

Kia Kaha, Christchurch.

Other peoples views and experience: