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Sharing the Christchurch Experience

27th June 2013 by Reuben Levermore, Manila | 1 Comment

For the next fortnight in Manila, Filipino schoolchildren will have the chance to see earthquake-struck Christchurch through the eyes of their New Zealand counterparts.

The “See Through My Eyes” exhibition coordinated by UNICEF New Zealand opened at the Yuchengco Museum on Friday 21 June.  The exhibition showcases photographs taken by 24 children from Christchurch which illustrate how the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes affected their lives and communities.

The point of the exhibition is not to seek the sympathy of Filipinos for the devastation wrought on Christchurch.  Rather, it’s an opportunity for both New Zealanders and Filipinos to reflect on their shared vulnerability to natural disasters. The same geological activity that enables geothermal energy industries in both countries also makes us vulnerable to major earthquakes.

We wish to share our Earthquake experience with the Philippines in a way that helps us all to be better prepared when disaster strikes.  With that in mind, on Wednesday 3 July, Renato Solidum, the Director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), will talk about the earthquake risk in greater metro Manila.  Experts from the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences  (GNS Science) and New Zealand engineering firm Tonkin & Taylor will share the scientific lessons learnt from the Christchurch earthquakes and the technology that has been refined to help guard against damage from future quakes.

Earthquake preparedness is also about personal responsibility.   During the fortnight that the exhibition shows in Manila, PHIVOLCS representatives will give presentations to schoolchildren on how to ensure that families and schools are prepared for, and know what to do, when a major earthquake strikes.

The city of Christchurch is recovering from its major earthquakes.  There is an opportunity to “build back better” – to create a new Christchurch for the future, a city of specialised precincts that is more people-friendly, with more parks and a smaller and mixed-use CBD that is filled with mainly low-rise buildings.  And as the rebuild gathers pace, the signs are that workers from the Philippines are going to play a significant role.

The “See Through My Eyes (PDF 130KB)” exhibition was brought to Manila by the New Zealand Embassy in association with UNICEF and also the cooperation of the University of Canterbury CEISMIC collection which is a digital archive from the Canterbury earthquakes.  The exhibition will show from 21 June to 5 July 2013 at the Yuchengco Museum in the Makati business district.

Photo exhibition opening reception

Photo exhibition opening reception

One Response to “Sharing the Christchurch Experience”

  1. Walter Ty Walter Ty says:

    The exhibit was an eye-opener although photos of liquefaction in Christchurch’s suburbs were missing. The Garden City’s residents, especially those that opted not to move to other regions in NZ, are a resilient lot. The twenty year revitalisation plan will work wonders but it’s sad that Christ Church Cathedral can’t be saved. At the very least, what’s left of the original structure (if possible) could have been integrated into a quake-proof modern edifice similar to Coventry Cathedral in the U.K. & Kaiser Wilhelm Church in the German capital Berlin, both WW II casualties.

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