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.

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On loan from New Zealand Fire Service Search and Rescue

Jaws of Life

These hydraulic spreaders, often referred to as the “Jaws of Life”, were used to rescue trapped people after the February 2011 earthquake.

The tips of the spreader’s blades are engaged by wedging them into a seam of gap – for example, around a vehicle door. A hydraulic pump, attached to the tool or as a separate unit, powers a piston that pushes the blades apart with great force and spreads the seam.

The now open blades can then be repositioned around the metal. The spreader is then engaged in reverse and the blades close, cutting through the metal.

Hydraulic spreaders are often used at the scene of car accidents.

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On loan from Philippa Mein Smith

Water from the Farm

In response of the February 2011 earthquake, Federated Farmers amassed more than 4,500 volunteers, nicknamed the Farmy Army.

They spent 13 days digging out liquefaction in Christchurch, distributing millions of litres of water and delivering more than four tonnes of food. These volunteers were fed and watered by Rural Women of New Zealand.

Many of the Farmy Army volunteers were farmers who brought their own equipment with them – from wheelbarrows to diggers and from loaders to any container on hand that could transport water.

This container, which once contained pre-digester liquid for making silage, was filled with water and delivered to a couple in Moncks Bay by a friendly farmer from West Melton. The recipients were assured the container had been thoroughly washed out prior to delivery!

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Canterbury Jockey Club Model

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

The Canterbury Jockey Club building on Oxford Terrace was designed by brothers Sidney and Alfred Luttrell in the Edwardian Tudor style and completed in 1912.

The Category II heritage building was occupied by Liquidity Bar and Restaurant when the earthquakes hit. Although it remained open after the September 2010 quake, the building was badly damaged on 22 February 2011 and was demolished later that year.

Christchurch artist Mike Beer, known as Ghostcat, has recreated the building in incredible detail. The model is made from a range of materials including balsa wood, plaster, card and several types of polymer clay. Beer applied real grout between the tiny bricks of the building’s walls.

The model is a fitting memorial to a building many Cantabrians will remember and which was typical of Christchurch’s central city before the earthquakes.

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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.