• RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Haruko Haruhara On February - 22 - 2011

Aucklanders make a habit of making fun of Christchurchers, and vice versa (Of course everyone in New Zealand makes fun of Aucklanders). They have a heated rivalry, sometimes a quite bitter rivalry on the rugby pitch. Aucklanders are haughty, snooty, full of themselves (Why, yes, New Zealand DOES revolve around Auckland, thank you very much.) We call Christchurchers provincial, uncouth, ruffians. As you can imagine, Christchurch has a real chip on its shoulder toward Auckland. I would liken it to the relationship between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle.

Everyone in New Zealand is a Christchurcher now.

If you have ever been to Christchurch, it is an absolutely stunning city. It looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. The Avon River winds through the city with beautiful pedestrian bridges, ringed by ancient trees. Cute little gold and red trams run throughout the city. I spent a week in Christchurch on holiday as a child. Our family’s idea of holiday was to visit the landmarks and museums, punting on the Avon. Even back then, I wanted to explore the wilds, go out on the trails, but that wasn’t what our family did. I missed hiking through the spectacular mountains of the nearby Banks Peninsula. I spent another few days there as a teen in a field hockey tournament. Pretty much the whole time I was there, I was in dorms or on the hockey pitch. They wouldn’t let us run loose through the city.

The main landmark of Christchurch is the famous 106-year-old Christchurch Cathedral.

The spectacular spire of the Christchurch Cathedral came down yesterday. At least 65 people were killed, and more than 100 are missing or buried, from a shallow 6.3-magnitude earthquake. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Such a beautiful city, brought to its knees. It was the second major earthquake to hit Christchurch in six months. And the third major disaster on the South Island in six months (29 miners died in a mining accident several weeks ago.)

But Christchurch is not dead. Not by a long shot.

Kiwis are a funny lot. We’re taught not to toot our own horns young (unlike Aussies). We’re also taught not to complain (in that sense we’re very similar to Aussies). We’re hard to read, hard to understand, but one thing that ties us together is a “can do” spirit, a chip on our shoulders. Constant ribbing by Aussies and always being thought of as “Australia’s little brother” (or even worse, actually a PART of Australia), will do that to a nation. New Zealanders and Christchurch in particular have especially large chips on their shoulders. That chip will serve Christchurchers well in this time.

We are the descendants of people who colonized the most remote nation on the planet — Maoris and Europeans alike. We built the world’s fastest Indian. We conquered Everest, when many, many others — even the mighty British — tried and failed. We will overcome this.

Punting on the Avon River

The River Avon

Christchurch's famous trams

Categories: News & Politics

19 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. HotChocolateParty says:

    Thanks for the article Haruko, people have certainly taken a hit. Christchurch will change but it will go on

  2. david p canada says:

    I only cheer for two teams.

    New Zealand and anyone playing Australia.

  3. choicelady says:

    Thank you Haruko -- it’s heartbreaking! My father was often in Christchurch during WW II -- he was an officer in the Coast Guard, and that was an entry point for cargo, a cessation from hardship. He brought back cowrie shells, photos galore, and a beautiful small tiki that graced our bookshelves forever. I loved NZ my whole life though I’ve never been there. It lived for me in my father’s glowing descriptions, not even all that out of date today, and the loss of these magnificent buildings along with the people whose lives are utterly irreplaceable, is heartbreaking.

    My heart goes out to this small country that gave so much to my father and all the others fighting all those years. They had little, but they gave without reservation in material goods and in generous kindness. NZ was my Dad’s home away from home. It rode in his heart all the remainder of his life, and in mine now. Thank you for sharing those beautiful photos and reminding us of all who suffered these last days in that tiny little place so far from us yet so near.

  4. Wolf Larsen says:

    Thank you Haruko for this beautiful post and heartfelt words. My heart goes out to all the people in harms way…..and I hope for a speedy recovery. Take care my friend….

  5. BassFace says:

    A sound, resolute people will pull through tragedies such as this, and the recent floods & cyclones that ravaged Queensland. My thoughts & positive waves to you brave Kiwis… and deepest sadness for those who have fallen. Their Kiwi spirit will live forever.

  6. Haruko Haruhara says:

    Good news: 48 people pulled alive from the rubble.

    Bad news: Possibly as many as 300 people are missing.

  7. PepeLepew says:

    ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

  8. escribacat says:

    Yes, NZ will get through this, Haruko. They will rebuild that beautiful cathedral and the other lost buildings. I’m certain that this day will always be remembered though. I am sorry to hear so many were killed.

    I have always wanted to go to NZ. Some day I will!

  9. Um, because of the pictures, we can’t vote on this article. I give it a 10, because it is important for us to connect the news to real places and real people, through their eyes.

  10. Best wishes to New Zealand in coping with this. I really wish I had my own means to get down there (and other places around the globe where there are big, messy problems to deal with) and pitch in.

    Incidentally, I just discovered Firefox does not have a spelling for New Zealand. Huh. The things you learn.

    But HH, I thought you were in Japan? I could have swore you were once in an episode of Pokemon, and that is filmed live in the *real* Japan (not that fake version they try to sell you on travel shows).

  11. Itchybiscuit says:

    Thanks for the insight Haruko, I’ve been watching this horrible situation unfold on the Beeb and my heart goes out to all Kiwis. It truly does seem like we’re living in ‘interesting times’. Every time I turn on the news there’s another natural disaster somewhere in the world. I can’t truly imagine what it’s like -- coming from a really climactically and geologically stable part of the world as I do.

    Best of best wishes my friend. :-)

  12. KQuark says:

    Godspeed to the kiwis. I kid them but really everyone I ever met in real life or on the net from NZ have been some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

  13. Ando says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us, H. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family as well as all of the residents of Christchurch.

  14. LisaDi9 says:

    Haruko
    I always thought of New Zealand as the place to be in the future.
    I never really liked the ribbing from the Australians…I found that maybe, just maybe, the Aussies wanted to be more like the Kiwis.
    Nonetheless, I know some Kiwis and some Aussies and to me, I find them lovely people.
    Different in their outlook but truly lovely people.
    I have visited Australia, always wanted to go to New Zealand…..I think that I didn’t go, because I may never leave.
    Wish the best to New Zealand and especially Christchurch…..and it’s people.


Leave your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Back to top
PlanetPOV Tweets
Ongoing Stories
Features