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Women’s Voices from the earthquake

5 December 2012

Women’s Voices from the earthquake

Over the past year, the Christchurch Branch of the National Council of Women has been working with volunteer interviewers to record women’s experiences of the Canterbury earthquakes. This week, three things have happened that mark the completion of the first part of this big undertaking.

First, 78 interviews, and 27 interviewers’ stories, have ‘gone live’ on the UC CEISMIC website, where anyone can listen to, or read about, the interviews. The link is https://quakestudies.canterbury.ac.nz/store/collection/228. This resource is available for anyone to make use of – family members, the public, researchers and others. More stories and reports will be added over the next few weeks and months.

Second, the Christchurch City Council (major funders of the project) has received a preliminary report on this research. The report includes a 60,000 word write-up of material from the first stage of the project. The report will be updated in 2013 and available on the UC CEISMIC website.

Finally, it was announced that the project has won this year’s NCW Rosebowl competition - a nationally organised competition between the 22 NCW Branches. The winning Branch is required to produce a project that enhances the NCW brand nationally and internationally and displays excellence of research.

In the interviews, the participants discuss each major earthquake to hit Canterbury and Christchurch since 4 September 2010. Issues covered include impacts on families, damage to homes, suburbs or the city, dealing with bureaucracy, community responses (we have interviewed people involved in many post-quake community initiatives), insurance, infrastructure (roads, sewage, power, water etc) and aspects of the rebuild. The women interviewed talk about their hopes and fears, emotional stresses and the sense that Christchurch is ‘a tale of two cities’.

The stories are in turn distressing, frantic, depressing, admirable and inspiring. Thanks to the participants, our sponsors, the army of wonderful researchers and NCW members, these women’s stories from the earthquakes will live on into the future as a historical document.


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