About Lost Christchurch

I Cry for the Lost Country –
a poem from the heart.

And I cry for the lost country
The regular brick and square of it all
The solid straight lines of tree lined streets
The lovely curves of its river, languid, towards the shore
My country, my land marks, my stone and mortar
My sturdy, structured, eternal town
In rubble, in ruin, in wretched despair
I cry for the lost county of my younger years

Lynne Burne
Christchurch, June 13th 2011

Lynne was born and educated in Christchurch and for the past 30 years has lived and worked in Paris, France where she runs her business LKB Associates.

Thanks Lynne for contributing this lovely poem.

After the shock and dust settled from the earthquakes, two friends, Helen Solomons and Wendy Riley, felt so strongly over the loss of the city’s historic heart, they decided to put their skills to use and create this living tribute to it on the web.

With Wendy’s web and Helen’s writing skills they began to search archives all over New Zealand, Australia and the UK, finding photographs and history on the city’s past.

They felt it was imperative to honour and preserve the memory of our lost city. Working on the site has been therapeutic for them. They knew others were feeling just as devastated as they were about what has been lost and the fact that the site is now being enjoyed by thousands of visitors, has become an unintentional way of doing their bit in supporting Christchurch’s devastated community.

“Forty seconds of ground shaking has left our city lying in ruins, leaving many people devastated over the loss of our city’s heart. Although everyone is focused on rebuilding a future, you can’t take away the reality of what we have lost. It is unprecedented in our generation and has huge ramifications. We have lost our history, our landmarks and most importantly – our identity. What we knew is now a ‘lost Christchurch says Helen.

As the city reopens, people are ‘hit’ by the reality that there is nothing left. What took 160 years to build, has gone for good. We have to get used to our future city, without an historic heart. Our links to our past has come to an end and part of our identity has been rudely severed. Those old beloved landmarks won’t be there.

It’s not just about the historic buildings. The city was a repository which contained a social and historical narrative of our past. Each street, wall, facade, interior was an integral part of the people who walked passed them, shopped in them, worked in the offices, drank in the hotels and prayed in the churches. Everyone who has lived here, has played an integral part in making this city what it was. No matter how young or old, significant or private their lives were, by simply living here, each one left their imprint here.

“The creators of the Lost Christchurch website are highly commended for their innovative celebration of the city’s history and heritage through the web. This site brings together a number of historic threads to tell a holistic and compelling story of Christchurch. Using social media Lost Christchurch shares information on places and stories that would otherwise be known only to a select few. This website has had tens of thousands of visitors and received applause from around the world.”

Canterbury Heritage Awards

They have found information and photographs of old Christchurch all over New Zealand and overseas. Bringing this together into one centralised repository makes sense and is so much easier to access. The site is more than just a purely factual record of historical Christchurch. It offers everyone an opportunity to contribute their stories for time immemorial. “We want the site to be a time capsule of ordinary Christchurch inhabitants’ lives and experience,” Helen says, “weaving their memories and experiences around photographs and information of historical buildings, will be a really unique tribute to our beloved city”.

“It’s a bit of an archaeological dig on a human and architectural level. The earthquakes have severed our links and so its timely to collate it now.” Wendy says, “Unlike a book, the website is continually growing”.

The site’s ease to access the treasure trove of old photographs and stories offer visitors a chance to enjoy, learn about and reminisce over what we once had.

Helen concludes, “As we pick up the pieces, and turn our heads to our new future city, we hope our tribute to lost Christchurch will help as a last visual walk through a city we all loved and never had a chance to say goodbye to.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lex Calder says:

    Your note on Lyttelton suggests the surrounding hills are 2000 -6000 feet high – – not so – Mt Herbert the highest point on the peninsula is just over 3000 feet, 3014 if memory serves correctly. the Port Hills are about 1200 ft. These are not the Southern Alps! Wish your endeavours well. Don’t stop here.


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