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POST QUAKE UPDATE: Christchurch members

By March 16, 2011No Comments

Catherine Montgomery of Manaaki Whenua Press, based in Lincoln, had one of the more distressing second quake experiences. Her son was finishing school at Linwood High at midday, because the afternoon was teachers-only. Catherine knew he was heading into town on either his skateboard or by bus and it was 30 agonising minutes before she had a reply to her text: he was OK. All the more poignant in retrospect because one of her son’s classmates did go by bus and was killed when masonry fell on that bus in the city.

Catherine’s assistant at the publishing house couldn’t take any more and has left to live in the North Island.

Her home – fortunately a modern design and secure – is in Lyttelton, and she said the attention from Navy personnel and others they received immediately after the quake was wonderful and reassuring that they weren’t alone.

Now, she says, she is adjusting to the ‘new normal’. “Everything takes longer, it is at least ten minutes longer to get home, and if I go round the long way, I risk being hit by boulder as an alternative to being stuck in a traffic jam when the tunnel is temporarily closed!”

Catherine’s son will have been off school for five weeks before it reopens – and he’ll be in the afternoon shift. “Perfect for a teenage male – he will be able to sleep in.” Meantime, she is downloading sample lessons to occupy his time.

Quentin Wilson reported on February 28: “Our wonderful old 1881 home (and my office) is a write off. I was very lucky to get out unhurt. Secured bookcases came down all around me in my study and over the desk. Chimneys down in all the rooms, upstairs and down, bricks over everything, plaster off all the walls (as in old lathe and plaster which is very heavy and deadly). Extremely shaken, we have spent the days since in a total daze, trying to make sense of it all, gather possessions together, get valuables into the lockup and somehow manage the aftershocks which are … just as nerve-wracking.”

As of March 15, PANZ News has been told by David Elworthy that Quentin and Bev hope to move to a rental property in Mt Pleasant owned by Juliet Rogers. David and Ros endured some scary times helping get stuff out of Quentin’s house ‘when there was no officialdom about’. “It was the only time I have been really scared, with masonry and plaster threatening to fall and aftershocks…” says David. To put that in perspective, the Elworthys are living at Moncks Bay, close to the epicentres of many tremors. Fortunately their house is an old weatherboard that just rattles and shakes according to David.

Finally getting a number for Quentin, PANZ News phoned, and all he wanted to add to the story was that he and Bev could not have got through the first week without the generous direct assistance of three friends in the literary and publishing world.

Jenny Haworth of Wily Publications works from her home in Shirley. A home that was fortunately little damaged on February 22 – “We’ve lost a bit of china, but that’s nothing.” Power took a week to be reconnected to her home.

And Jenny is carless. “I was talking to the Canterbury Club about a history of the club they have commissioned me to do when the quake struck. Their building is one of Christchurch’s oldest, so they were fortunate all that was damaged was a corner of the building.

“But my car was in the Farmer’s carpark! It is still there and I don’t know if it is squashed or undamaged. Apparently the building was threatening the Christchurch Library so at one stage they were considering complete demolition. You now have to register your car with the police and wait to find out what has happened.” Jenny had to slog home through silt and endure that she and her husband have no shopping centre near them, no proper mail and not many buses.

Wily Publications has two commissions under discussion and Jenny is trusting they both get the go ahead. “Send us in Christchurch the work. We need to keep working to move forward.”

Paula Wagemakerreckons she is one of the lucky ones, living and working in the suburb of Russley which has come through both quakes relatively unscathed. Most of her clients are overseas or in other parts of New Zealand so it has been business pretty much as usual. “All I’ve got is survivor guilt,” she says, “But I’ve tried to make up for it by letting friends have showers and do their laundry at my place.”

Geraldine Sloane of Essential Resources lives near Christchurch’s CBD but says her home is structurally OK. “The garden is a bit of a mess, but that can wait.” Contract designers for Essential Resources living in the city are all personally OK and she is sending out care packages when PANZ News phones. Geraldine is doing lots of cooking for friends in the area. While she says she has ‘quake brain’ her concern – like all the others in publishing in Christchurch – is more for industry colleagues than herself.

Also like others PANZ News interviewed, Geraldine is grateful to be contacted and to know colleagues concern is nation-wide.

Kim Dovey at Book Design blogged on March 2: We are back. It’s so great to be back in the office and back into an almost normal routine. We are so grateful to all our wonderful clients and the lovely messages… Contact with the outside world and knowing that things are still operating normally somewhere is so important at the moment. It’s really helping us all get our lives back together as well.  Read the rest of the moving blog (with pics) at

Rachel Scott at Canterbury University Press has an update: she and Kaye Godfrey have just been allowed back into their building at the University to pick up files, computers and so forth. However, the building is required by university management for at least the next 12 weeks – the registry building is red-stickered – so like it or not, it is work from home. “CUP Head Office in Sydenham!” jokes Rachel. Frith is coming back to finish the last four months of her internship, working partially from her St Albans flat and partially at Rachel’s house. “All three CUP ‘offices’ are connected by Skype,” says Rachel.

Meantime Rachel is available on 03 337 9498, and the email address will still apply.