As far as I’m concern, New Zealand is an awesome country and has excellent sceneries, beautiful people who practice environmentally sustainable lifestyles. People use to say that if you want to see the natural beauties of Europe in one country, come to New Zealand. The recent earthquakes sent tremors to my heart and I’d like to share some facts about the place which was once my home away from home.
An earthquake with magnitude 7.1 occurred in the South Island, New Zealand on Saturday 04:35 am local time, 4 September 2010 (16:35 UTC, 3 September 2010). The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.0 miles), and there were no fatalities with the epicenter located 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of Christchurch. The earthquake was reported to have caused widespread damage and power outages. 63 aftershocks were also reported in the first 48 hours with three registering 5.2 magnitude. Total Earthquake Commission, insurance and individual costs may reach as high as NZ$11 billion according to the New Zealand Treasury. Not many people realize that it was a warning for bigger things to come and sure enough another earthquake struck again 5 months later.
An earthquake of magnitude 6.3 occurred on 22 February 2011 at 12:51pm. It was centred on Lyttelton 10 kilometres south east of Christchurch and at a depth of 5 km. Although lower on the Richter Scale the intensity and violence of the quake was greater than September 2010's, due to the shallowness of the epicentre. In contrast to the September 2010 quake, the quake struck on a busy weekday afternoon. 145 people have been killed so far and hundreds injured with more than 200 people still missing. A National State of Emergency was declared and this is the first time this has been invoked. Many buildings and landmarks have been severely damaged, including the iconic 'Shag Rock' and Christchurch Cathedral. Earthquake was uncommon during my stay in Christchurch from 1988 until 1990, although everybody knew that NZ sits on an active plate.
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula.
The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand. The usual Māori name for Christchurch is Ōtautahi ("the place of Tautahi"). This was originally the name of a specific site by the Avon River near present-day Kilmore Street and the Christchurch Central Fire Station.
Christchurch lies in Canterbury, near the centre of the east coast of the South Island, east of the Canterbury Plains. It is located near the southern end of Pegasus Bay, and is bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean coast and the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote Rivers. To the south and south-east the urban portion of the city is limited by the volcanic slopes of the Port Hills separating it from Banks Peninsula. To the north the city is bounded by Waimakariri River.
Christchurch has a dry, temperate climate, with mean daily maximum air temperatures of 22.5 °C (72.5 °F) in January, 11.3 °C (52.3 °F) in July. Christchurch has an Oceanic climate. The summer climate is often moderated by a sea breeze from the Northeast, but a record temperature of 41.6 °C (107 °F) was reached in February 1973.
In winter it is common for the temperature to fall below 0 °C (32 °F) at night. There are on average 70 days of ground frost per year. Snow falls occur on average once or twice a year in the hill suburbs and about once or twice every two years on the plain.
The area administered by the Christchurch City Council has a population of 376,700 (June 2010 estimate), making it the second-largest in New Zealand, and the largest city in the South Island. The Christchurch urban area is the second-largest in the country by population, after Auckland.
Approximately 62% of the South Island's Pacific Islander community resides in Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury Province, equalling approximately 11,500 people. People of Samoan descent (Maori) comprise about half the Pacific Islander population. There are also smaller communities of Cook Islanders, Fijians, Niueans and Tongans residing in the city.
The large number of public parks and well-developed residential gardens with many trees has given Christchurch the name of The Garden City. Hagley Park and the 30-hectare (75 acre) Christchurch Botanic Gardens, founded in 1863, are in the central city, with Hagley Park being a site for sports such as golf, cricket, netball, hockey and rugby, and for open air concerts by local bands and orchestras (the place I used to play hockey games). To the north of the city is the Willowbank wildlife park. Travis Wetland, an ecological restoration programme to create a wetland, is to the east of the city centre in the suburb of Burwood.
The river that flows through the centre of the city (its banks now largely forming an urban park) was named Avon at the request of the pioneering Deans brothers to commemorate the Scottis Avon. The water used to be clear with fish (Trout) happily swimming by.
The most famous train to depart Christchurch is the TranzAlpine, which travels along the Main South Line to Rolleston and then turns onto the Midland Line, passes through the Southern Alps via the Otira Tunnel, and terminates in Greymouth on the West Coast. This trip is often regarded to be one of the ten great train journeys in the world for the amazing scenery through which it passes.
University of Canterbury
The University of Canterbury (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha; postnominal abbreviation Cantuar. or Cant. for Cantuariensis, the Latin name for Canterbury), New Zealand's second-oldest university. It offers degrees in Arts, Commerce, Education (physical education), Engineering, Fine Arts, Forestry, Law, Music, Social Work, Speech and Language Therapy, Science, Sports Coaching and Teaching. I was in the Chemistry Department under the The College of Science.
The university’s main campus is in Ilam, is a leafy suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand about five kilometres west of the city centre. Located adjacent to State Highway 1 and the Christchurch International Airport, it is handily placed for transportation. It is also located close to the major retail area of Riccarton. Canterbury University has six halls of residence housing around 1800 students. Government sponsored students normally rented houses outside the university either in city center (Montreal Street) or around the university such as Riccarton (where Malaysia house used to be), Kirkwood Avenue or Newnham Terrace.
Some of my Chinese friends used to call me ‘Richard’ after Richard Marx’s name…a name I got after I sang ‘Right Here Waiting’ during one of Malaysia Night’s events. At that time, the song was not yet aired on NZ radio ….. it just blew them away and so I got the name! Aisyah & The Fan Club was making wave in NZ during that period and I managed to take this pix with her when she came to Christchurch to perform.
Christchurch Mosque (or some call it Masjid Al Noor), is located on Deans Ave, Riccarton, neighbouring the Hagley Park. It used to be the southern most mosque in the world but I’m not so sure today. The mosque was the place where we had our solat Jumaat, solat sunat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri & Aidil Adha as well as center for halal food (especially chicken, lamb & beef).
Gateway to the Antarctic
Christchurch has a history of involvement in Antarctic exploration–both Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton used the port of Lyttelton (where we used to go fishing) as a departure point for expeditions. Within the city, the Canterbury Museum preserves and exhibits many historic artifacts and stories of Antarctic exploration while Christchurch International Airport serves as the major base for the New Zealand, Italian and United States Antarctic programs. The International Antarctic Centre provides both base facilities and a museum and visitor centre focused upon current Antarctic activities. The United States Navy and latterly the United States Air National Guard, use Christchurch Airport as take-off for the main supply route to McMurdo and Scott Bases in Antarctica.
Rugby World Cup 2011
Rugby is at home right there in Christchurch and they are gearing up to host the biggest event on the international rugby calendar. Rugby World Cup 2011 is coming – and with five pools games and two quarter-finals to be held in the city, it’s going to be massive. The World Cup is scheduled to go on even after the earthquake.