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

Canterbury Museum 2012.11.1-12

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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Canterbury Museum 2012.77.1

Tsukasa Katsube's Uniform

The earthquake that struck Canterbury at 12.51 pm on 22 February 2011 caused more extensive damage than the September quake.

Buildings collapsed and liquefaction flooded streets. 185 people were killed and thousands more seriously injured.

Within hours of the quake, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams were deployed to rescue survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Rescue experts from Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America joined the New Zealand teams within days.

Tsukasa Katsube was one of more than 100 members of the Japanese Disaster Relief Rescue Team who helped in the search and rescue efforts following the 22 February 2011 earthquake.

Many of the Japanese rescue experts worked at the Canterbury Television (CTV) site where 28 Japanese students were killed and several others were trapped.

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Canterbury Museum 2016.155.5

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.