Friend of the fishes succeeds in rescue mission
Home becomes refugee centre
Last updated 10:19 16/04/2011
A Christchurch woman turned her home into a refugee centre for 300 earthquake-displaced fish, converting her garage into a makeshift shelter.
Jennifer Hamlin, president of the Federation of New Zealand Aquatic Societies, scrambled to help the city's fish owners save their beloved pets after the February 22 quake. Her Halswell house was flooded, but with water and power supplies uninterrupted, she began her fish-rescue mission.
"We got the word out and notified our members. It became obvious some people would be without power and water, and a lot of these animals are tropical and need heat."
Hamlin immediately went to a friend's house in the heart of the city where she picked up reptiles and fish and took them home.
"Other people were in a similar situation," she said.
"One man in New Brighton said he needed to get out of town and came back to find his fish were still alive, but hadn't had any power in days."
In the weeks after the quake, Hamlin took in about 300 refugee fish from about a dozen people whose homes or tanks were badly damaged. Her own 12 tanks were not enough to house the refugees, so she bought several plastic bins, which were set up in her garage.
The lids were left on the bins to stop the water escaping when aftershocks hit.
With a boil water notice in place, she needed to bring water in from a friend's well in Rangiora. She also salvaged heaters and filters from friends to keep the fish alive.
With normality returning to Christchurch, most of the fish were returned home last weekend, Hamlin said.
Ben Fairweather, whose New Brighton house was badly hit by the quake, described Hamlin as a "lifesaver" who found a home for his fish when the quake hit.
The fish are with a friend of Hamlin's until his home is repaired.