Photo Journal: Being in the right place at the right time

This week, going up and down to and from Governors Bay we were treated with amazing sunsets as a result of the ash in the sky. The view from the Sign of the Kiwi parking over the Canterbury Plains was amazing on both the Monday and Tuesday afternoon, also the sort of magical landscapes earlier in the morning around the bays, with sun slowly showing made for some awesome views.

Earlier that morning the combination of mist, low sun and cold made for some almost magical views and I guess it reminded me that to a large extent making a special picture is all about being there in the right place at the right time.

Most spectacular however were the ash filled skies over the mountains during sunset. Christchurch, although hit by another severe aftershock looked beautiful, impressive and alive.

Now one does not need much talent to shoot a picture like this, and I bet that with a mobile phone the result would have been equally beautiful. It had nothing to do with me and all with being in the right place at the right time.

The next day I was prepared and decided to go and be there at the same time. The sky was not as impressive, but patience and seeing how the light was changing rapidly made a difference. And seeing the light change from


On the way back later that evening I stopped one more time at the same place and saw the city below like this.

A strange sense of peace came over me. Christchurch may be shaken, stirred, hit hard, damaged, ravaged and whatever negative qualifications one could think of, at the same time the sea of lights below me indicated that Christchurch is also very much alive, and a city with a bright future. If a city can shine like this after a massive aftershock than imagine what it’ll be like after restoration. Enough reason for me in any event to stick around.

Christchurch Rotterdam Earthquake Bombing

It may seem strange but in all the misery that is gong on here in Christchurch I have found it at least has brought me a better understanding of my parents where it comes to their relationship with their city Rotterdam, the city in which I was born for that matter.

Rotterdam Bombing

In may 1940, not long after the Second World War had started, the Germans lived up to their threat to bomb the city if the Dutch army did not live up to the demands made by the German forces. For two and a half hours the Germans bombed the city, destroying almost 26,000 buildings. The Rotterdam C8ity Archive reports:

As a result of the bombardments and shootings that took place between May 10th and 14th an area of 258 hectares (approx. 638 acres), of which 158 hectares (approx. 390 acres) of the built-on area and 100 hectares (approx. 248 acres) of streets and open spaces, had been demolished. The devastation of buildings was largely due to the big bombardment and the resulting fires. In the stricken area of 252 streets all buildings were destroyed and of 141 streets the built-on area was partially destroyed. Soon, this area was called “the debris”.

All together 25.479 dwellings were lost in which 77.607 people were housed. Besides that, 26 hotels, 117 boarding houses and 44 lodgings, in which some 2000 people lived, had been destroyed. In total 79.600 persons, who represented 12,8 % of the population of Rotterdam, were left homeless. Of these people, as from June 15th 1940 onward, 20.887 were accommodated in other municipalities, while others, at that moment, had found a temporary shelter within the boundaries of Rotterdam. A lot of industrial premises were also destroyed: 31 department stores and 2.320 smaller shops, 31 factories and 1.319 workshops, 675 warehouses and storage companies, 1.437 offices, 13 bank buildings and 19 consulates, 69 school buildings and 13 hospitals, 24 churches and 10 charitable institutions, 25 municipal- and government buildings, 4 station buildings, 4 newspaper buildings and 2 museums, 517 café’s and restaurants, 22 cinema’ s and 184 other business accommodations.

A few other air raids followed including the often overlooked bombardment of 31 May 1943: the Rotterdam City Archive reported:

On that day American bombers, coming from England, attacked the port- and shipbuilding installations in the dock area in the west of Rotterdam. The industrial area between Keilehaven and Merwehaven was hit, but a combination of strong wind and overcast also caused great damage to the nearby residential areas, especially in the Bospolder-Tussendijken District. The death toll rose to 401 casualties. About 10 hectares (approx. 25 acres) of built-on area and 8 hectares (approx. 20 acres) of public roads were destroyed. Around 16.500 people lost their homes. The bombardment later came to be known as the ‘Forgotten Bombardment’.

A once lively port city and trade center was left like this in the pics below.







The decennia years after the war were all about the rebuilding of the city and even until now Rotterdam was and still is a city in constant development and redevelopment.

A city that has the pride and joy of the people that loved there.

Christchurch Aftershock 22/2/2011

On 22 February 2011 my city was left in devastation after a serious aftershock left its center in devastated state.

Christchurch Earthquake - Churchills Tavern

And here as well thousands of buildings have been devastated, a large number of people have died and a city is left that needs to basically start from the ground up in many senses of the word, leaving people homeless, jobless, businessless.

In a very similar sense a city in which restoration is the keyword, very likely for the coming decennia.

A New Understanding of My Parent’s Pride of Their City

If there is anything I remember from my own youth, about 25 years and onwards after the first bombardment in Rotterdam, it is that of a city in m0tion, building, rebuilding but most of all a city of which its inhabitants were proud: a collective feeling of pride in the recovery of a city that basically had been wiped out.  There was a community spirit when I grew up that seems almost out of the order when compared to other cities. There was a community culture: Rotterdam as the city of people that had their sleeves rolled up to ‘just do it’ and to restore the city in all its facets into an even better one. One to which everyone contributed in their own way and therefore was the pride of every single inhabitant. After hearing Bob Parker speak about the future of this city I got this imagination that one day, just like me, my grand children will not understand why people from Christchurch are so particularly proud of their city. And the answer will be probably be just the same:

This is the city that we built up from scratch upon the ashes of the demolished old city, all in our own way but ultimately by joining our hands together. We stepped up to the challenge and made it through together. And look at the result, it is even better than before.

I so imagine that it will be the same here in Christchurch. Most of all I think that after forty-five years of not fully understanding it, can relate better than ever  to what my parents meant to tell us when they tried to explain what it means to not just lose your home or the safety thereof but your complete city. And like them I anticipate to be one of these people that inhabit Christchurch at an old age looking back at its and being proud for being there to build it back up from the ground, together with the rest of the people of Christchurch, all in our own ways but all with our hearts set on the same end result: a city that is even better, safer, that is the pride of its people, a city that is doing honor and glory to the name it bears more than ever.

“Some Normality Restored”: Further Quake and Aftershock Thoughts

This morning the Stuff headlines read: Some normality restored for Christchurch, referring amongst others to the fact that most children are back to school.

Most children will be able to return to school and preschool in Canterbury today, restoring at least some semblance of normality for young people just over a week after the region was struck by a 7.1 magnitute earthquake.

“We want to move from the disaster phase to the recovery and rebuilding phase as quickly as we can.”

Read the rest via via Quake: Some normality restored for Christchurch |

Be this all what it may be, I did have to fight hard during the aftershocks this morning to not bring everybody back in.Yesterday some normality restored: church back on as well as the Harmony School of Supernatural Ministry. Several times during the afternoon/evening session of the school, what a terrible time to realize I forgot to take my mobile.

And today several considerable aftershocks. I am not comfortable with the idea that my wife is in the center of town in an office on the fourth floor. I had to fight the urge to ask her t come home. I am not comfortable with the idea that my boys are spread around over two schools. Teaching later on and tonight will probably take my mind of things.

Some normality may have been restored in terms of more people doing their usual thing, but somehow it does not quite feel like it yet. I did find that checking Geonet every time does not help in settling down: just when you thought “there was another aftershock” you find that there have been more going on all morning.

Only another half an hour, and  can pick up the boys again, only to leave home for teaching, “furter restoring some normality”. Hmm, a strange day. For now I’ll be glad when the day is over. All close together again and in the meantime I will just trust God for looking after my family.

More Random Thoughts and Quake


It’s been a rocky ride, the aftershocks are definitely not helping in settling down and  we find it hard to motivate the kids to go anywhere away from home, especially when not staying all together. More than 270 aftershocks of force 3 or more since Saturday early morning are not helping. But how can you complain knowing that there are the first who lost their jobs, others who lost their retirements and dream houses, part of New Zealand‘s heritage and the list goes on.

Staying calm for the sake of the kids is more difficult, and it is weird when you get on high alert when a truck passes. I pray for endurance, patience, peace and safety or all. Seeing the news coverage I feel guilty being at home with the boys because that’s all they want to be at.


…the wider South Island is welcoming Cantabrians fleeing the region to escape nerve-jangling aftershocks – including a clutch of five overnight.There were five sizable shocks between midnight and 7am, ranging between magnitudes 3.5 and 4.5.There have been two more since 9am, at magnitudes 3.2 and 3.Moteliers in Kaikoura reported Christchurch people arriving looking tired and on edge.”The first thing they say is: ‘Are you getting the aftershocks?’,” one said.Ritchies Intercity buses regional manager Malcolm Budd said the company had fielded desperate calls from people in tears.”They are over it, sick of it. Since the big [aftershock] [yesterday] morning we’ve had an influx of calls from people wanting out of the city.”Kaikoura Gateway Motel operator Sue Wright said a group of more than 30 arrived yesterday without reservations and took 16 rooms.Distraught families are fleeing Christchurch to escape relentless aftershocks, while others turn to counselling and medication to ease their panic.Many parents are sending their terrified children out of town for respite in the wake of yesterday’s shallow 5.1 magnitude aftershock – the strongest of more than 270 tremors above magnitude 3 since Saturday’s devastating 7.1 quake.

Children’s reactions “will depend entirely on how the parents are reacting”, she said. “Children look to the parents to see if the world is safe or not. It is critical that parents are calm. Don’t have children around when you’re panicking.” Christchurch counsellor Pablo Godoy said continual aftershocks were making it hard for people to cope.
“For instance, we had a young person come in. A truck drove past and that rattled the room a little bit – that triggered their fear response.”

Read all the latest news via Quake: Waimakariri River contaminated |