Exec Director Susi Writes About Her Christchurch Visit

Posted Tuesday 29 Nov 2011

WIFT NZ Executive Director Susi Newborn has just returned from a visit to Christchurch. She
"Nothing can quite prepare you for a visit to post-earthquake Christchurch. I was there this
time last year, staying in Cathedral Square. There was an earthquake in the early hours of the
morning and my guest spent the night sitting by the hotel door, bags packed, ready to escape
should the shaking intensify. I on the other hand slept through it.
We all respond in different ways to disaster and its cruel aftermath. I experienced the Samoa
Tsunami first hand through the emergency response effort in my last job, and the effect that
it had on colleagues who were on the ground. But nothing could have prepared me for what
I saw and experienced last Thursday walking around the perimeter of the Red Zone. I took
a photo of some graffiti I saw on the side of a destroyed church. It summed up how I felt
walking round the devastation - the haunting silence, the emptiness, the putrid smell, people's
personal possessions hanging from twisted rafters, not a single bird, not even a stray cat to
catch the many rats leading their underground lives in what were once happy, healthy homes.
It is in our biology as women, especially as mothers, to 'kiss it better' .Yet I am struggling to

envisage what a 'better' is for Christchurch. A woman in the makeshift 'shopping mall' told me
how grateful she was just to able to do something normal, to sit down and have a coffee, to
walk into Ballantyne's and sample some perfume.
When I returned to Waiheke Island, I felt different, apart. I wanted to tell everyone how lucky
they are not to have experienced such wounding. I know I will never forget what I witnessed
there. I just hope we can collectively 'kiss it better'."


Six WIFT NZ South Island members - Veronica McCarthy, Jo Ffitch, Mary Wiles, Kathleen Gallagher, Anne Williams, Liz Smith and 2 non members - Bronwyn Beattie, and Janis McCarthy - joined Susi for a slap-up banquet at Little India, Merivale during her visit. It was an evening filled with much laughter, yet also much sadness as individuals recounted their experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Chchnight out