Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 185 people last February. International media coverage of what happened that day seemed to be quickly overshadowed by the 15,000 people who lost their lives in the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan the following month.

They were both terrible tragedies, but I felt much closer to the events in Christchurch after spending most of the last decade traveling in and out of that city transiting to and from Antarctica for work. I’m relieved that I don’t know anyone personally that I have to mourn. But so many people do. Many of our favorite establishments and landmarks are no longer standing, and there is such a sense of sorrow and loss in the community.

The State Department has an embassy on the North Island in Wellington, and several of our people were in Christchurch on the day of the quake, and at least one returned for the memorial ceremony. You can also read about their experiences on their blogs at Land of the Long White Cloud and Noble Glomads. It’s particularly poignant because they are a married couple that was trying to find each other in the midst of the chaos.

I have many friends that are still in the Antarctic program and spend time in Christchurch every year. They’re faithful in posting photos and news links on Facebook about reconstruction efforts and memorials.

Here’s a very interesting article in The New Zealand Herald on how they’d like to see the city develop in the future…without high rises.

And one friend posted this incredibly moving image of a temporary art installation. There are 185 cubic feet of grass to represent the regrowth of the city, and 185 empty chairs to represent the lives lost that day. I might be overidentifying because of the age of my son, but I can’t look at the car seat without crying.


185 Chair Memorial