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.