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After The Earthquake: Kaikōura One Year On

The people of Kaikōura open their hearts, homes and kitchens.
Johnny Clark had just bought again in mattress after taking a piss when his room started to shake. He thought it was one other little earthquake – it was pretty wobbly the place he lived, in Rakautara, a few minutes drive north of Kaikōura, alongside State Freeway One.

As Johnny’s bed jolted from side to facet, he began to really feel like the walls of his upstairs bedroom would contact.

He scrambled onto a verandah hooked up to the side of the house. The pressure of the shaking earth, he thought, would throw him onto the grass beneath.

“I just ended up laying on the ground and half that verandah truly obtained ripped off the side of the home,” the 23-year-old says.

“Fortunate it was the half that I wasn’t on.”
The Kaikōura earthquake hit close to the Canterbury town of Waiau, in New Zealand’s South Island, on November 14, 2016 – a Monday morning, just after midnight. The violent shaking lasted nearly two minutes. At magnitude-7.8 and 15km deep, it was the second largest quake to rattle this country since the arrival of Europeans. It claimed the lives of two people.

In locations where faults met the surface, the ground moved horizontally and vertically by up to 12 metres, carving large cracks via the panorama. Whole towns and cities moved – Kaikoura travelled upwards and north east by almost a metre. Cape Campbell, the north eastern tip of the South Island, moved two metres nearer to the North Island. Wellington moved between two and six centimetres north.

As much as a hundred,000 landslides were triggered by the quake, inflicting a million cubic metres of rock to fall onto roads. Rakautara was reduce off from Kaikōura. Kaikōura was cut off from the remainder of the nation.

One 12 months on, the entrance yard at Johnny’s household home remains to be littered with boulders, some the dimensions of small cars, that bowled down the hill within the quake.

After the shaking stopped, Johnny tried to get downstairs to his family – his dad and stepmum, his sisters and nieces and nephews had been all residence. The new water cylinder had exploded, and steaming water was gushing through the staircase, which had collapsed on top of it.

He climbed down the bannister and went exterior. Moonlight shone on the seaside in entrance of the house, and Johnny might see that the ocean was nicely past the low tide mark. Worried a tsunami was coming, the household grabbed blankets from the shed, picked up the kids, and dashed by means of dense bush up into the hills behind their house.

On greater ground, they created a clearing among the many mānuka timber, lit a hearth and waited til first mild. When it got here, Johnny noticed that the seabed had lifted. Forests of bull kelp that covered beforehand submerged rocks had been exposed and crawling with sealife – paua, limpets, crays.

Again on the house, there was no power, no running water, no cellphone coverage. No helicopters came. Rakautara was marooned. On the fourth day the family determined to stroll into Kaikōura. Slips lined State Highway One. The force of the earthquake had break up components of the street and thrown the railway tracks onto the seaside.

Earlier than the earthquake, Kaikōura was a buzzing vacationer city, well-known for its whale watching and seafood. In December 2015, 22,632 company stayed at accommodation within the city. In December 2016, after the earthquake, the quantity was 3437. In the 12 months to September 2017, the sum of money spent by worldwide tourists within the district dropped by 53 percent.

Johnny leads fairly a unique life now, too.
He lived in a caravan for about seven months after the quake. It was bloody chilly, he says. Now, he’s got a house down a cul-de-sac in Kaikoura, (it is not really a cul de sac – but he calls it one, because the bridge over the creek collapsed and no one can get by way of. He uses the area to park one in every of his hotrods.) His home is red stickered, however he reckons that is just because a bit of the cladding has fallen off, and it is truly secure as.

After we first meet, Johnny’s in his backyard in stubbies stone island goose down jacket orange and work boots, with a weed whacker and no earmuffs. His ginger mullet is blowing in the wind. A glazier has arrived at the same time. He throws clumps of dirt on the again of Johnny’s head to get his consideration.

Johnny has supplied to take us to Rakautara, past the roadblock at Mangamaunu. SH1 north is barely open to staff and residents. Johnny usually spots confused wanting tourists in camper vans, wondering how they are going to make it to the Interislander ferry in three hours’ time (the present route to Picton takes greater than six hours to drive).

Previous the roadblock, steep cliffs once covered in greenery, bear ochre scars carved by the tonnes of earth and rock that the quake shook into the sea. Workers are a swarm of fluorescent orange, and a backlog of trucks head south to collect the rubble that is cleared and recycled back into the street at a cement plant to the north.

After a 20 minute drive, Johnny pulls his dusty ute up exterior the family dwelling. He walks across the driveway, scrambles up a steep gravel financial institution, over the practice tracks and street, jumps a fence, then another, and heads all the way down to the stony seaside. To his right is Nin’s Bin, the blue and white roadside caravan set up by his grandfather in 1977 to promote the crays he, then his son Rodney, then Johnny, caught from the ocean it fronts onto. For forty years it funded the Clark family.

But when the road closed, Nin’s Bin closed too. A flax bush has grown as much as obscure the blackboard that advertised crayfish in eight totally different languages. It is now surrounded by orange fences, diggers, utes, warning signs and the prefabricated rooms used as a base for among the employees fixing the freeway.

“Everybody has needed to go and find different jobs,” Johnny says. His stepmother is working on the street, his dad, who sports activities a matching mullet, is building trailers.

“I’m nonetheless fishing, but I am not fishing for the crays for the shop, I’m fishing for China.”
He hopes the street – and Nin’s Bin – will reopen quickly.

Down on the beach, rocks that were immersed in water and coated in pink coralline algae before the earthquake are bleached white by the sunlight they’re now uncovered to. Paua, limpet and cockle shells litter the beach. Further out, waves crash onto rocks lined in sea lettuce, and a pair of seals watch Johnny warily as he heads out to retrieve his cray pot.

Within the weeks after the quake stranded Rakautara and destroyed the slipway that Johnny used to launch his fishing boat, Tamatea, the household discovered an alternate route to town. Johnny hooked the boat to the again of his ute, towed it along what remained of the street, avoiding slips by driving on the seashore and by means of the disused train tunnels, and launched Tamatea in city. He made the trip back and forth day by day for a couple of weeks, fishing all day and returning dwelling at night time, until somebody laid bricks in entrance of the train tunnels.

After that, the household walked to town and again after they wanted to, pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with groceries. They’ve had vehicle entry since March.

In the yr because the earthquake, things are the same, however totally different in Kaikōura. “Workers wished” signs sit exterior nearly every business alongside the main street. Many seasonal workers have chosen the long hours and high pay of supplied by the rebuild company, whereas others, who would usually take jobs as wait workers, hairdressers and checkout operators, can’t find accommodation.

There are not any rental properties marketed in Kaikōura on TradeMe. There aren’t any flatmates wished, either.

A sign within the window of the native Four Sq. advertises a housing shortage drop-in workshop for November 6. “We don’t have houses to offer, however we will work better for you if we all know who wants what,” the sign says.

“Proper now there’s a scarcity of housing and accommodation in our district,” the council’s website reads.

It puts this shortage down to 5 important elements: Residents needing houses as a consequence of earthquake harm and increased competitors for rentals; native companies needing accommodation for workers; vacationers needing accommodation; rebuild workers needing accommodation; and returning residents or ‘new locals’ wanting to move to Kaikōura.

Within the 12 months to August 2017, the typical weekly rent in the town increased by eleven p.c. Over that very same period, Auckland stone island goose down jacket orange rents increased by four %, closer to the common improve for the country as a complete, of 4.7 p.c. Average house values in Kaikōura increased by 9.5 p.c in accordance with QV information over the interval. In Auckland, home costs elevated by 10.Four %. (REINZ, however, places Kaikōura’s median home price enhance up 2 % on the previous yr in comparison with Auckland’s 5.5 p.c enhance.)

Along State Highways One and Seven – the inland highway that connects Kaikōura to the remainder of the nation – hundreds of staff operate heavy equipment, fly helicopters again and forth, abseil up cliffs, herd the seals that breed at Ohau Point, or stand for hours with cease/go signs, inhaling the mud swept up by the prevailing north-westerly wind.

At South Bay, fishing boats sit excessive and dry, whereas diggers dredge sand and stone from the brand new marina (resulting from open at present,) loading debris into the primary of a by no means-ending line of trucks.

The city’s permanent resident inhabitants of 2080 has elevated by an estimated 30 percent with the rebuild, led by Authorities owned firm NCTIR (North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery, pronounced “nectar” by locals,) an employer of 1000’s.

Many of those new employees come from out of city, and want locations to stay. A prefabricated village built on the sting of townhouses 300 of them. Neon “no vacancy” signs flicker exterior hotels and motels, utes fill carparks and woollen work socks stuffed in steel cap boots sit on doorsteps.

Kayden Manawatu.
On a Tuesday evening at the mouth of Lyell Creek, within the city’s centre, Kayden Manawatu, 15, is fishing for whitebait. In spring, the tiny fish swim upstream from the ocean, and into his internet. He uses a cut plastic bottle to scoop them into a ziplock bag. When he gets residence, they go straight into the frying pan with egg and salt.

The town where Kayden grew up has modified quite a bit because the earthquake. As an alternative of buses stuffed with digital camera-toting tourists, street employees and engineers wear high vis and hardhats, and drive utes with orange flashing lights. It is two hours from excessive tide, and the rock he’s standing on on the mouth of the creek used to be the low tide mark.

Should you observe Lyell Creek upstream through town, you will come to Kayden’s outdated home. On the evening of the quake, the bank collapsed, and a big crack formed across the lawn and under his dad’s bedroom. Kayden says finding properties is the largest submit quake struggle that locals face.

“A couple of my cousins had to move out of their rentals – they wanted to be fastened after the earthquake and then they went to NCTIR workers.”

Others have moved to Christchurch, he says.
“We have been fortunate that my grandma moved to Christchurch ’cause we bought her house off her. Others weren’t so lucky.”

That night, as we say our goodbyes, Kayden invites us to come back to his cousin Kaea’s house for breakfast the next morning.

There are good and unhealthy outcomes for Kaikōura locals after the earthquake. General, the angle appears to be ‘just get on with it’.

Companies relying on vacationer cash, like Southern Paua Manufacturing unit, are struggling. However proprietor Brian O’Connor, who can be a pastor on the native church, has taken on a second job as a “wellbeing guy” – a counsellor of kinds – for NCTIR.

For some accommodation suppliers, the influx of staff had been a boon. It is exhausting to seek out a place to remain if you don’t e book properly upfront, and the proprietor of 1 motel tells us this yr has been her busiest to date.

That’s not the case for everyone, although.
Anchor Inn proprietor Paul Meike, 60, and his wife moved to Kaikoura about two and a half years ago.

“We got here right here for a vacation and stayed in room nine. My wife says ‘this place is up on the market. I wanna transfer right here.’ We thought of it, went again to Melbourne, sold up and got here back.

“That took us about nine months to get every little thing sold up. And yeah – we came again and purchased it. After which we had the earthquake.”

The Anchor Inn has been closed for a yr. Insurance runs out right now. Paul walks around the motel’s fenced off perimeter, previous sinkholes that opened up on the night time of the quake and have now caved in on themselves. Pieces of pink batts lie on the lawn, as workers paint and hammer and drill round him.

“The workers have solely been at the motel about three weeks… I would have liked to have been open by now, identical because the Boutique Lodge up the highway. But no, we’re not opening ’til next year – the primary of January – which is a little bit of a disgrace,” Paul says.

“It has been a struggle, I needed to go and get one other job to get by, pay the payments. Lucky in city here there’s loads of work going on. They’re screaming out for employees…” He drives a bus for NCTIR staff now.

As we chat, he wells up. He loves it in Kaikōura – one in all his 16-12 months-previous canines is named after the town. He would not need to leave. However he is struggling.

“Time is just a killer. You assume, what have you performed for the last eleven months. You sit right here. Sit over there. Sit over there. Walk alongside the seashore with the 2 little canine. Yeah. Simply filling in your day.”

Later that night, lengthy after we’ve left the Anchor Inn, a bus drives past and offers us a toot – it is Paul dropping staff home from city.

It’s early on a Wednesday morning, and Kayden’s already been out fishing again. He’s cooking up whitebait fritters at his 10-yr-old cousin Kaea Hole-Ererua’s home, earlier than they head off to high school.

A year in the past, when the earthquake struck simply after midnight, Kaea woke as much as the sound of smashing glass. Her bed was shaking and the canine was barking. Like many different Kaikōura residents, they thought there would be a tsunami. They obtained in the automobile and drove to Kaea’s grandma’s home up the hill. About 15 members of the family were there – cousins, aunties, uncles.

In the times following the quake, a Ngai Tahu Tourism helicopter delivered kaimoana to Kaikōura’s Takahanga marae, and the 1000’s of vacationers and residents trapped in the city feasted on crayfish. On its means out, the chopper evacuated whānau – together with Kaea, who spent two months dwelling along with her father out of Christchurch.

When she got here back, the town she grew up in had modified. There weren’t many children at school, and she struggled. Most nights, she cried herself to sleep.

“It’s a bit different because the beaches are decrease … There’s not that many crayfish and paua and kina and all that seafood anymore.”

In September this 12 months, when a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near Invercargill, Kaea was scared. “We thought it was in all probability going to get greater, like the opposite earthquake.”

Earlier than we depart Kaea’s dwelling, we get a feed of whitebait fritters. Kaea’s mum offers us her buddy Johnny Clark’s telephone quantity – she says he’ll be good to talk to.

Kaea Gap-Eruera.
Photograph: Luke McPake / The Wireless

In the days following the quake, Johnny and his household lived off the land. For a while, they used a generator to power their freezer full of meat, but then that stopped working in order that they took all the things into town.

The Clark household homestead stood on the property at Rakautara for 108 years.
“She’s all ripped down now,” Johnny says. “Hopefully we’ll be capable of rebuild here.”

The fruit trees that surrounded the picket house – avocado, apricot, plum, apple, lemon, cherry, pawpaw – now encompass piles of rubble. The hot water cylinder that almost marred Johnny’s escape sits within the centre of the site. A fish bin crammed with smashed jars of preserved fruit, a pink razor in a pile of damaged concrete, a barbeque in the bushes, a chain and tyre swing, damp couches, chairs and books and a porcelain rest room all point out that this place was as soon as a beloved household house.

At the entrance of the property, a greenhouse is planted with strawberries, ardour fruit, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce. Johnny grew tomatoes on fifty eight plants the 12 months earlier than the earthquake, and offered them at Nin’s Bin, for “low cost as”. This yr, Rodney has taken cost of the vegetable rising, since Johnny’s living in city.

Before they moved to the house subsequent door, the Clark household lived of their shed. It’s full of cars: there is a Ford Model T, a 1937 Ford coupe (“she’s a real good wanting car”), and “rat-rod,” which is actually made out of two automobiles. Until the earthquake hit, the automobiles had been a pastime for Johnny and Rodney. They’d find outdated rust-buckets in paddocks and do them up. Johnny exhibits us a video of him doing a burnout.

“Once we’re not fishing we might muck round with automobiles. But after the earthquake that’s gone on the again burner as a result of there’s plenty of different stuff to do,” he says.

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