A year ago today I wrote:
Words just seem so futile at a time like this. The entire dictionary – even every word ever uttered – can’t describe what’s going on right now.
A nation sits in shock. This isn’t our burden, surely? This isn’t our event? This is what happens in some foreign land, some distant place, to people who aren’t us.
But no, this is our place. This is our event. This is our land.
As a mother hen gathers her chicks in close, so New Zealand gathers its people together. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who have lost everything. We protect those who are weakened. We guard those we have lost.
Nightfall is coming. The rescuers will continue to search, and we will continue to hope. ‘Recovery’ is a word still far too raw to be uttered. Until we have our people back, we will hold fast.
We will get through this.
As I look back on what happened, I can’t help but admire the people of Canterbury. Those who worked selflessly for others. Those who ignored frayed nerves and kept on. Those who had everything taken away – everything but their smiles. Those who made the brave decision to stay. Those who made the brave decision to leave.
I don’t think I’d be overstating the case to say that New Zealand changed as a nation that day. We all took a knock on some level – even those of us who didn’t feel the quakes with our bodies still felt it in our hearts.
We watched on, desperate to help, wanting Cantabrians to know how much we cared. We longed to make things right, but couldn’t really do anything. And as the quakes kept coming, we despaired with those who continued to suffer.
They say these things make you stronger. I agree, but what a fucking painful growth spurt. Almost one you don’t come back from; one you maybe don’t get through in one piece.
But the people of Canterbury did get through it. They will continue to get through it.
And we will all continue to stand with them.
Kia kaha, New Zealand.