Connecting Our Stories Archive


Denise Ashton: ‘I honestly don’t know how we survived’

The ocean hadn’t changed. That was the simple truth Denise Ashton relied on in the aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake. Her house was damaged, the streets and lawns were covered in liquefaction, and she had no power, but every morning she found a way to make

Cassie Welch: ‘The church has a lot to offer’

“It’s really valuable to keep having fun,” says 25-year-old Cassie Welch. “It’s easy to get worn down with all the stress people are dealing with day to day and you forget to go out and enjoy yourself a little bit.” Welch isn’t talking about heading to the

Darren Wright: ‘I knew the house was gone’

Darren Wright admits he’s “reasonably well known” in Sumner. Some would say he’s being modest. He’s chair of the Sumner Residents’ Association, chair of the CERA community forum, deputy chair of the Sumner School board of trustees and the community representative on the governance group of the

Emma Friedauer: ‘Loved to have stayed where I was’

In a modest room at Burwood Hospital, a group of elderly men and women sit quietly focused on a game of scrabble. The small group gathers from across Christchurch one day a week to catch up and socialise. Today, Emma Friedauer joins the group, bringing a warm

Paddy Brandon: ‘Little things became really important’

“It was funny,” says Paddy. “The glasses started tinkling in the cabinet, and then BANG! I remember looking at my wife across the table; she had her back to the windows. They were flexing and I thought, ‘if that breaks it would decapitate her’.’’ Paddy, 69, and

Qtopia: ‘Everybody was incredible’

Coffees at the mobile cart are eeny, meeny, miny and moe. Anne Nicholson orders a moe, then navigates the warren of rooms at Community House, clutching nearly a litre of coffee. “This is our fifth space,” she says, over her shoulder. Qtopia started life in Community House

John Sykes: ‘Our old house had a beautiful front garden’

It was more frightening when it stopped. The walls thumped and my wife and I sat in silence waiting for it to end. We looked at the ceiling and hoped it wouldn’t come crashing down on us. We wondered what might be coming next. The rest of

Darryn Ward: ‘Step back, take stock of your life’

Darryn Ward lost his factory and manufacturing business to the Canterbury earthquakes. His income was cut by 80 per cent and he could no longer contribute financially to his family as he once had. Like many, he is mired in bureaucracy over his broken house: insurance payouts,

Peter Hansen: ‘It shocked our community together’

When the shaking started early that Saturday morning in September, Peter Hansen wondered if it would have been easier just to stay in bed. He and his wife, Tressa, clutched onto each other in the doorway of their Sumner home, and struggled to stay on their feet.

Connecting our stories

UC Journalism students are trialling a new form of community journalism in a final-term project to record and share people’s everyday stories about the Canterbury earthquakes and recovery. The University of Canterbury project, developed in partnership with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s community resilience team, aims to