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Traffic cones for Christchurch

Traffic cones for Christchurch

People all over New Zealand are being asked to remember the devastating February 2011 Christchurch earthquake this weekend by placing flowers in traffic cones in their neighbourhoods, towns and cities.

The project is inspired by Henry Sunderland, a Christchurch design tutor and artist. On the first anniversary of the February 22 earthquake, he circulated a cartoon asking Cantabrians to place flowers in traffic cones “To remember all of those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones and those whose lives will never again be the same.”

Christchurch writer and social historian Te Awhina Arahanga, an earthquake “refugee” now living in Auckland, is promoting the idea in Auckland for the third anniversary this weekend and hopes it will get support around the country.

“Three years down the track, people have the idea that Christchurch is back on its feet. But that is not the case. People are still struggling.”

She is setting up an installation of 185 traffic cones outside the Pitt St Methodist Church in Auckland. The cones will be set up in time for the third anniversary of the earthquake, which occurred at 12.51 p.m. on February 22, when there will be a blessing and the names of the victims will be read out. After this, people are invited to place their flowers in the cones.

“Anyone who can’t get to the blessing can place flowers in a traffic cone near them and share the idea with friends and family,” she says.

Te Awhina chose the Pitt St Methodist Church as the site for the memorial because its fellow church, the Durham St Methodist Church in Christchurch, collapsed in the quake with the loss of three lives. The church had already been severely damaged in the September 2010 Darfield shake and the workers who died when it collapsed were removing its historic organ for safe-keeping and restoration.

Te Awhina Arahanga is a short-story writer, poet and social historian. She lived in one of the Dorset Street flats in central Christchurch, designed by architect Miles Warren, and was unable to return after the February 2011 earthquake. The flats are still cordoned off. In 2012, she was awarded a residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Devonport.

When: Saturday February 22, 2014
12.30 pm gathering
12.51 pm Blessing
Where: Methodist Church, Pitt St, Auckland


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