So many people in Christchurch have stories to tell. Not just stories about the earthquake and the trauma they’ve suffered, but also stories about not getting the help and support that they need right now. There are also some amazing stories about people getting together to look after each other. It’s infuriating and inspiring all at the same time and I really want to write more about it but for the moment I’m just gonna direct you to this short film, which touches on some of those stories:
Tag Archives: Christchurch earthquake
On February 22nd at just before 1pm, a devastating earthquake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, and just 10km deep, hit Christchurch, the second biggest city in New Zealand. So far over 160 people have been officially declared dead and that toll is expected to rise to over 200. The earthquake came less than 6 months after a destructive 7.1 magnitude shock, which claimed no lives but saw thousands of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed.
In the wake of the February quake, a number of grassroots groups and networks have sprung up across the city to help people access the resources and support they needed to survive. Beyond Resistance, an anarchist group, was heavily involved in providing support in the working class suburbs of Avonside and Linwood, while other members also got involved in the relief effort in other parts of the city.
Beyond Resistance need your help! Money is needed to buy resources, to print leaflets and flyers and to organise meetings. Any donations will be greatly appreciated, and can be made to:
Bank name Westpac
Branch name Queenstown
Account name Unite Fund
Account number 03 0675 0423909 017
Westpac swift code WPACNZ2W
For many residents in the hard hit working class Eastern suburbs of Christchurch, aid from the Government, City Council and large NGOs such as the Red Cross was sorely lacking. More than 2 weeks on from the quake, many still have no (or extremely limited) power supplies and no running water. State-provided portaloos and chemical toilets are still far from accessible for many residents.
In Linwood, Beyond Resistance members set up a community kitchen in the front yard of two members’ house within hours of the earthquake. From here they distributed meals, gas canisters, water, hand sanitiser, facemasks (huge amounts of pollution and dust were spread by high winds) and other much needed supplies. They engaged in door-knocking around Linwood and Avonside to assess people’s needs and organised bike deliveries of food, water and gas (many of the roads are still impassable by car). More details about the work they have been doing can be found on their website.
Over the coming days, weeks and months, Beyond Resistance members will continue to help provide resources to people who need them. Additionally, they are working to link up the various neighbourhood based support groups scattered across the city. They also plan to organise politically to try to ensure that the rebuilding of Christchurch is done in a way that meets the needs of residents, not business and the state. They will be active in organising against Government cuts to services around the country that use the earthquake as an excuse to further punish working class people (both employed and unemployed) for the benefit of the wealthy.
If you have any questions about this fundraising callout, please email the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement, one of the organisations helping to coordinate support for Beyond Resistance from Wellington – email@example.com
Now that I’m done being a whingey self involved prick, I’m gonna try to write something that’s actually helpful.
Heaps of folk in Christchurch are doing awesome work organizing aid, distributing supplies, cleaning up the mess and hosting people who’ve been displaced by the earthquake.
If you’re based outside Canterbury I think the most helpful thing you can do is send money. There’s heaps of charities collecting money for Christchurch right now, and it’s hard to judge which ones will do the most good. So here are my suggestions:
Beyond Resistance in Christchurch, which also includes people involved in Food Not Bombs and Unite, have been doing lots of work in the eastern suburbs (Linwood, Avonside etc), setting up a community centre, distributing water and gas canisters and so on. Their blog also has lots of useful updates.
Christchurch Women’s Refuge was hit pretty hard by both earthquakes. Domestic violence is a huge enough problem in regular times, and now after the earthquake, with the added stress and frustration, you can bet it’s only going to increase. Wellington Refuge has been organising help and donations, and they’ve set up a facebook page too.
I dont know much about Refugees as Survivors, but it sounds like theyre doing important work supporting a group of people whose needs could easily be overlooked, and I think they sound like a really worthwhile organisation to support.
In Wellington, 128 Social Centre is hosting a fundraiser 80s movie night for Beyond Resistance. It’s on Wednesday March 9 at 8pm, at 128 Abel Smith St.
I recommend reading this website for really useful updates and information.
Other commentary that’s worth reading:
For the last twelve days it’s been hard to think of anything except the earthquake in Christchurch. I haven’t lived in Christchurch in almost a decade, but it’s where I went to High School, and my family and most of my High School friends still live here.
I did the feeling numb and shocked, and then I did the feeling scared and helpless and tearful, and now I’ve moved on to the feeling angry and outraged, which is kind of my default setting anyway.
I know that I use anger as a coping mechanism, and I know that it’s just way easier to feel angry at someone, than it is to acknowledge that sometimes things happen that are beyond anyone’s control. I guess that’s why so many people have been so fixated on punishing looters.
But I think plenty of my anger is justified. Because while it’s true that an earthquake is an unpreventable natural disaster, the impact a natural disaster like this has on people’s lives isn’t inevitable. It’s a product of political and economic circumstances. Right now there’s a few things I just have to rant about:
the Capitalist Media
I haven’t actually been reading much of the media coverage. It’s too upsetting. I can’t handle seeing people’s suffering exploited and sensationalized like that. It’s invasive and insensitive.
After the Operation Eight raids in October 2007, after the first bail hearing for the arrestees, when they were denied bail, I walked out of the court in tears, feeling scared and confused and powerless, and immediately had about five photographers pounce on me to take photos. It was so horrible and invasive and disrespectful.
Christchurch after the earthquake is like that times a million. So many people have had their lives shattered, people they love killed, their homes destroyed, their jobs gone. They don’t need their misery being showcased like this. Show some fucking respect.
New Zealand is an affluent society. There is no shortage of resources. There’s no reason that people should be having trouble accessing clean water, or food, or accommodation. It’s just ridiculous that resources that are there aren’t getting to people because the money to pay for them isn’t there. It’s ridiculous that food is rotting inside supermarkets that are locked up and guarded. Capitalism is ludicrous in normal circumstances but right now it’s just inhumane.
Mostly it’s ridiculous there are so many people living hand to mouth in the first place. So many people whose homes or workplaces were damaged in the quake can’t afford to pay for accommodation, or travel out of Christchurch, or even buy food, because they weren’t earning enough money to have any extra left over for emergencies.
People all over the show have donated heaps of money, time and resources to help Christchurch, and that’s great. But just the fact that people in Christchurch are having to rely on charity makes me mad. Isn’t looking after citizens in need the state’s job? Isn’t that why people pay them taxes and obey their stupid laws? So that the state will take care of them in a time of need? If we have to organise aid to Christchurch on our own (which lots of people have been doing really well), then why have a state in the first place?
Everyone I’ve talked to keeps saying that the government is in a really difficult position and they’re doing the best they can, but the money to look after people just isn’t there. Apparently the government is so strapped for cash they might have to get rid of Working for Families and interest free student loans to pay for rebuilding Christchurch. But they still had plenty of money to send the military to Afghanistan, or to buy new limos for MPs. I guess we just have different priorities.
There’s been so much focus on looters, including a facebook page calling for public execution of looters, and Judith Collins implying that looters deserve to be raped in prison. First of all, there’s a huge difference between stealing from someone’s home because the earthquake damage has made them an easy target, which is a fucking scummy thing to do, and stealing from a shop, because you’ve got no food or money since there’s just been a fucking earthquake. But even in the case of people caught stealing from homes, it seems like everyone is quick to condemn without finding out the full story.
I could say a whole more, about crime and class and ‘law and order’, but I’m gonna save that to some time when I’m more articulate.
I know that complaining on the internet is not a particularly useful thing to do right now. Like lots of other people, I’ve been trying to do what I can from outside Christchurch, raising money and sending supplies. Like lots of people I’ve been feeling frustrated that I can’t do more to help. So this rant is mostly me venting some of that frustration.
Anger aside, people are doing some amazing work on the ground, sharing resources, distributing supplies, fixing houses, digging long drops and so on. Seeing the capacity humans have to look after each other in situations like this makes me feel hopeful and inspired.