– Riccarton, Christchurch

The same old Tuesday, getting up at 7:30am, getting prepared for school. I remember it as if it were only yesterday, clear as a daisy. Little did we know that this day would soon change our lives. Walking to school with Maia as per usual, just another day at school. Today we were aware that the teachers of all high schools had to attend a meeting in the town hall. School was planned to finish at 12, as it did, the majority of students flooded out of schools and were scattered around all the malls and social places. Me, I was walking down to the McDonald’s restaurant on Riccarton Rd. We had just walked in and you could see all of the students from various school ordering lunch.

Then as us girls stood in line all you could see were the lights starting to shake, then girls started to scream. Everyone grabbed everyone, strangers, friends, family, anyone and everyone were holding onto each other as the shaking continued for what felt like forever. After it stopped I was adamant on getting to my mother’s work with my close friend Aleni. Once we reached her work the New Zealand Blood Service, she was already busy at work transferring blood to the many casulties already arriving at Christchurch Hospital. Many calls and tears later, the word had arisen that my auntie Olivia was stuck in a lift by herself and had been stuck in there for at least two hours until rescued. My grandad, whose house is located right on top of the fault line had received major damage.

Our family home only had cracks but our family decided to evacuate and everyone in our family aunties, uncles, cousin, and grandparents re-located to my youngest auntie and her little family. Instead of the healthy dinner that she was preparing we all brought things out of our freezers of our own homes and had a lovely dinner as her house had regained water and power in the moments after the big shake. We used the spa as our shower as we were unaware of the water pipes. As we watched the news and the little kids went to bed, all you could see were the pictures re-played over and over again. This is when we realised how lucky we came out. In the later days we returned home aprt from my grandparents who were then permanent residents of my aunties home. As weeks went on, bodies were found and it really brought our whole community together. My friends and I continuously went to the Student Army to help out the people of Christchurch where we were put into buses and driven throughout the hardest hit suburbs to lend a helping hand. As the months passed everyone got back on their feet and came to terms with our new city.

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