Every taonga (treasure) on display at Quake City tells a story about the Canterbury earthquakes. Some are quirky, some heart-breaking and others inspiring

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Within hours of each major earthquake, offers of assistance and support flooded into Canterbury from across New Zealand and the world.

As attention turned to the rebuild, support focused on recovery. These comfortable Aftersocks, made from merino wool, are one of the clever ideas used to raise funds for Christchurch’s recovery.

The brainchild of Cantabrians Justin and Jo Ottey, who worked with Rural Women New Zealand, the socks were made by Canterbury manufacturer NZ Socks. They featured Canterbury’s traditional colours of red and black and a design recalling the lines of a seismograph during the earthquakes.

More than 20,000 pairs sold with all funds raised going to the Christchurch Earthquake Mayoral Relief Fund. Between 2011 and 2016, this fund provided $8.2 million in financial support for rebuilding the social and physical infrastructure of Christchurch following the earthquakes.

Quake Beer

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Aftershock Ale

This limited-edition beer is the product of one of the thousands of aftershocks that rocked Canterbury in the wake of the 4 September 2010 earthquake.

Four days after the 7.1 magnitude quake, work had resumed at Three Boys Brewery in Woolston. Brewer Ralph Bungard and his staff were producing a batch of their 4.5 per cent Golden Ale.

Then a magnitude 5.1 aftershock struck, cutting power to the brewery for 45 minutes. The Golden Ale was ruined, but instead of throwing it out, the brewers decided to rework it into something special.

By increasing the concentration of wort (extracted sugars), they raised the brew’s alcohol content to 7.1 per cent – the same as the magnitude of the September earthquake.

Just 1,900 bottles of Aftershock Ale were produced, each capped with a piece of brick from earthquake-damaged buildings.

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Student Volunteer Army T-Shirt

In the aftermath of both major earthquakes, volunteers rallied around communities in the worst-hit areas.

They cleared liquefaction, dug temporary toilets and distributed clean water and food among many other tasks. The largest group was the Student Volunteer Army (SVA).

The SVA was formed in the aftermath of the 4 September earthquake to assist local residents with non-lifesaving tasks like clearing liquefaction from gardens and streets. The movement swelled to over 11,000 students in the aftermath of the 22 February quake.

The logo on this t-shirt was designed by Christchurch artist Joel Hart and became the official symbol of the SVA. Initially 5,000 green t-shirts with the logo were printed but supplies quickly ran out.

This white example was worn by SVA founder Sam Johnson during clean-up operations in eastern Christchurch on Boxing Day 2011.

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On loan from the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

Tiles from the Dome of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Before the earthquakes, Christchurch was known for its numerous well-preserved heritage buildings. Many of these buildings suffered serious damage in the earthquakes.

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street was designed by Francis Petre and built in 1905 using funds raised by Christchurch’s Catholic community.

The basilica was damaged in the 4 September earthquake. Repair work was underway when the 22 February earthquake hit, causing the collapse of the facade and its two bell towers as well as serious structural damage.

When engineers assessed the building, they realised the large copper-roofed dome over the sanctuary was in danger of collapse. It was removed in pieces by a 400 tonne crane.

These tiles, with their exquisite fleur-de-lis motif, were on one of the two bell towers and can now be seen up close for the first time in over 100 years.

In 2019, the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch decided to demolish the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and build a new cathedral on another site. Demolition began in 2020.

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Designed by Rebecca Lovell-Smith, April 2011

Sure to Rise

This artwork combines two Canterbury icons – Christ Church Cathedral in the city centre and the packaging of Edmonds baking powder.

Edmonds was founded in Christchurch in 1879.

The image was designed in April 2011 by Lyttelton resident Rebecca Lovell-Smith, who has printed it on tea towels, postcards and prints.

Christ Church Cathedral, once Christchurch’s best-known building, was badly damaged in the earthquakes and for many Cantabrians came to represent the devastation wrought on the city.

By depicting it restored alongside the positive messages of Kia Kaha (stay strong) and Sure to Rise, Lovell-Smith has created a humorous and uplifting image which resonates strongly in the minds of many Cantabrians.