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Monday, March 7, 2011

'Red zone' to open for memorial

'Red zone' to open for memorial

Last updated 16:15 08/03/2011
 
Christchurch people will walk near the centre of their broken city on the national day of memorial next Friday.

Two of the men at the head of the recovery operation in Christchurch this afternoon gave an emotional press conference in front of the empty site where the CTV building stood.

Mayor Bob Parker and Civil Defence controller John Hamilton stood in front of the rubble and the charred remains of the lift shaft that is all that remains of the building.

Parker said he would like to see a functional memorial to the lives lost at the site but that it would ultimately be up to the people of Christchurch to decide what went in its place.

He said it could be "quite some time" before people got to see the CTV site for themselves, but that it was planned to set up a public walk way through the "red zone". It was hoped that it could be ready for people to walk through on the national day of mourning, next Friday.

Parker said the CTV site told the story of the quake. Most people in Christchurch knew someone who had worked in it.

"This tells the story of what befell our city on February 22," Parker said.

"We look at this site and I think we all find it very hard to come to terms with the loss."

Many people from many different countries had been in the building.

It was also a reminder of how close people came to losing their life in the quake.

"They were just here, they were just doing what they did every day.

"This is an event which strikes in a random way, in a tragic way.

"How much more does a city have to go through?" Parker said.

Civil defence national controller John Hamilton said the site was under investigation.

"There are a lot of memories in places like this," Hamilton said.

He revealed that he grew up in the city and had memories of the city.

"But I haven't been through the heart-ache that the people of the city have been through ... It is just mind-boggling."

THIRTEEN MORE NAMES

Police today released the names of 13 more victims from the February 22 earthquake.

They are:

Henry Ross Bush, 75 of Christchurch
Helen Margaret Chambers, 44 of Christchurch
Susan Patricia Chuter, 52 of Christchurch
Philip Graeme Reeve Coppeard, 41 of Christchurch
Estelle Marie Cullen, 32 of Christchurch
Marielle Falardeau, 60, of Canada
Normand Lee, 25 of Christchurch
Adrienne Isobel Lindsay, 54 of Christchurch
Kelsey Sinitta Moore, 18 of Christchurch
Jillian Lesley Murphy, 48 of Christchurch
Taneysha Gail Prattley, 5 weeks of Christchurch
Desley Ann Thomson, 32 of Christchurch
Siriphan Wongbunngam, 27
of Thailand

POWER BACK TO MOST OF CITY

Most Christchurch residents have had power restored to their properties, with only 8900 households still without electricity two weeks after a devastating magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

Ninety-eight percent of Christchurch had power, but that excluded those in the central business district (CBD), lines company Orion said today.

The total number of residents without power may start to fluctuate on a daily basis, and people should be prepared for further power cuts, Orion chief executive Roger Sutton said.

Power had been restored to 50 percent of the wider CBD but it would be a slow and difficult process restoring the rest of it.

Meanwhile, the 11kV cable out of the New Brighton substation which failed on Sunday night has been fixed.

PLAYTIME FOR QUAKE KIDS

As the Education Minister today announced measures to get more students back to school after Christchurch's devastating earthquake, one school sweetened the deal for its kids with extra play time.

Anne Tolley said an order of council had been passed giving the minister and secretary for education powers to act quickly to get Christchurch students back into school as soon as possible.

"We need to restore education for students affected by the earthquake as soon as we can, but existing legislation is not flexible enough to allow this," said Tolley.

"This order removes any potential roadblocks which could delay schools from opening on their own site, a new site or sharing facilities with another school.

"It means we can better manage the location of schools, direct boards of trustees, manage the relocation of students, and be flexible around licensing requirements for early childhood centres."

More than 100 Christchurch schools today set dates for re-opening, Tolley said.

She also announced $20 million in funding for schools and early childhood education centres.

Of the 100 schools, 21 have already opened. Eighty eight early childhood education centres (ECEs) have re-opened, with a further 135 expected by the end of the week.

At Wharenui School today, a conscious effort was made to ease the 130 or so pupils back into school life for the first time since the 6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch on February 22.

Classroom time was reduced as the roll enjoyed an extra period of outside activity.

Instead of the usual maths and reading instruction after lunch break, headmaster Craig McGregor took charge of a gumboot-throwing competition to mark the school's reopening.

"We're doing sports events to have a lot of fun and help everybody get back into the swing of things," he said as other clusters of kids played soccer or softball and practised their throwing skills.

"We thought it was important to get them outside so they can relax, have fun and mix together."

McGregor said it was too early to judge whether the students - aged five to 13-years-old - were still suffering psychologically from the latest quake, especially those whose homes were damaged.

Teachers would also be monitored to assess how they were coping with the after effects.

"I imagine the stresses might not start showing for a week or so," McGregor said.

Inevitably some of his students missed roll call today - about 15 had already transferred to schools elsewhere in New Zealand as families started afresh.

"Quite a few have gone and not come back again, we wouldn't expect some others to be back for a few weeks."

McGregor was confident he and the teaching staff had the resources to cope if children were starting to show the strain of living in their fractured city.

"There's a [Ministry of Education] website and telephone number I can go straight to if I have issues like that," he said.

Counsellors were also available for students and staff.

The school, built in 1907, was not damaged by the quake but there was a lingering reminder of the devastation caused to the city's infrastructure.

With the water supply yet to be cleared each pupil was asked to bring a quantity of boiled water to school while an extra 10 litres per day would be available in classrooms.

The ministry website at www.minedu.govt.nz has the latest information available on schools re-opening, as well as information for parents who want to help their child's learning at home.

- NZPA and Stuff


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