Today, my distress after the dreadful earthquake rocking Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island is increasing. Civil Defence Minister John Carter has declared the death toll indeterminate for the present. Adding insult to injury, the scurrilous vamperazzi has outdone itself with a monstrous feasting on human suffering. In juxtaposition, the CTV building has been destroyed and there are fears for the lives of 100 people who may have been inside. I wait, along with so many others, to hear from a friend whom I love.
Whilst I am a ‘strict’ atheist, Christchurch Cathedral is one of my favourite buildings, where charming volunteers are always happy to take folks on a grand guided tour. The cathedral has been shaken and damaged by quakes several times since its construction in 1881 but in the latest quake, the cathedral spire has fallen, as though the symbolic connection with the heavens are broken while underworld ogres wreak their wrath on mere mortals and their puny dwellings. Worse, there may be several people still trapped inside.
I’ve played the magnificent cathedral organ and inspected the wonderful archive of music, sacred and secular, from all performances ever held at the cathedral. In another life, I would have loved to have been the organist at this special community hub which cared even to include me. The architecture inside the cathedral is stunning, most particularly, the roof, buttressed inside by the upturned hull beams of a ship constructed with matai and totara. Another fabled local attraction, the Wizard of New Zealand, orates outside in the square. Fortunately the Wiz is unscathed though his home has minor damage.
Floods and fires there are in Australia aplenty, yet not so many quakes as in New Zealand which sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire. There’s something deeply disturbing about earthquakes – solid ground proves not so reliable, protective structures are racked and shattered by forces beyond restraint. Blessings to everyone affected by this tragedy which has devastated a city and people I love.
HOW TO DONATE
Donate to The Salvation Army:
Freephone 0800 530 000; online at www.salvationarmy.org.nz; or by post: The Salvation Army, PO Box 27001, Marion Square, Wellington, 6141. Mark correspondence: “Canterbury Earthquake Appeal”.
Donate to the Red Cross:
Donation drive from the Auckland University Students’ Association:
Call (09) 309 0789 or go to Auckland University’s Student Union building.
Donate via Westpac:
Westpac account 03 0207 0617 331 00.
Donate via ANZ:
ANZ account 01 1839 0188939 00.
NEW ZEALAND INFORMATION
AND IN OTHER DISPATCHES
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