A Sister City’s Suffering

Exactly 5 years ago today I had arrived in the city of Christchurch, and immediately loved the city, here is what I recorded in my blog at the time,

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Forever England

I know yous are all probably getting fed up with me comparing everywhere i go with home, and much of that was probably intended by the builders of the new world, trying to recreate Britain across the vast Empire, and they usually got it at least part right, but Christchurch in New Zealand is another matter, It is pure English, from the plants, to the buildings, to the weather, to the names, it is middle England, about all thats different are the accents.
I got here on Tuesday night, just decided in Aucland airport to go straight to the south island while the weather is good and have spent a couple of days around the city, its is set out in a grid but with the “Avon” river winding through it, and parks and squares scattered around it it is not formal and feels relaxed, I felt quite at home right away. Also the fact that some streets are Lismore, Cashel, and Armagh and a suburb is called Belfast, helped there….”

In many ways it is a sister city to Belfast, along with a few others like Halifax NS, Victoria BC, Durban SA, Brisbane Aus. etc.  Victorian Cities, that hark back to older days they never really knew but faked quite well with formal parks, cathedrals, and mock tudor suburbs.  Cites of regional importance but not capitals, or even the lead cites of their country, cites that have a sense of pride, but a modest one.

Although meant to be an “English City” as with most of NZ its prob more Irish & Scottish, with a large Asian community, so many of us probably have relatives living there, whether we realise or not!  I know my G Grandfather live there for 16 years, before returning home to Donegal, it was a tough place in those days still.

My heart goes out to the people of Christchurch at this time, for although they are far far away the ties are still strong, and while we rightly focus on the loss of life at this time, the loss of so much of the heritage and history of so young a country will also cause much heartache in the months and years to come.