CPIT remembers 22 February

News News & events

23 Feb 2012

Staff and students recorded their thoughts in the Remembrance Book, which is still available in the library for those who would like to contribute.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Address by Kay Giles, CPIT’s Chief Executive, delivered at CPIT’s Commemoration of 22 February 2011

It is a great privilege for me to make some short comments to conclude our commemoration today.

We have just had two minutes silence for reflection and, as each of us has been impacted in our own way by the event one year ago, I feel that I can do no more than share my own reflections on this event and the year that has passed.

On February 22, 2011, in less than a minute, all our lives were changed.

My thoughts go firstly to those who were lost – to mothers who would never again hug their children, students who would never attend their graduation, friends who would never again share fun and laughter. For many, the earthquake has left a gaping hole in their hearts that can never be filled.

And there were many other tragedies – injuries, loss of treasured mementos, incomes threatened, jobs lost, homes destroyed. The maps that show the earthquakes only capture a fragment of their impact – our lives were changed.

We drove on ruined roads, without access to much of our city, our spiritual homes and churches destroyed, our schools wrecked and our living spaces invaded by liquefaction. Many of us were without power, water and sewage. We learned to live with fear as each tremor rumbled through – our lives were changed.

But, together with memories of great loss and fear, I treasure the memories of bravery and kindness. The emergency workers, hospital staff, teachers and many others who dealt with the immediate victims of this crisis. The student army, the nurses army, the volunteers and the farm workers who raced to get the city back on its feet. I saw amazing things – hot food helicoptered into the eastern suburbs, emergency shelters staffed and resourced, strangers providing food and accommodation to those in need. Our lives changed - we saw the goodness and strength of our community.

And this support extended far beyond our local boundaries – international search and rescue teams, donations, offers of support from across the world – an overwhelming display of generosity and concern. Our lives changed forever - experiencing first hand, our connection with the global community.

In the past twelve months, I’ve learnt a lot about the human condition – we get knocked over, we bounce back, sometimes we fall over again, sometimes we can get up on our own, sometimes we can’t, but there is always someone there to understand and to help. Our lives have changed – we are more independent and, at the same time, more connected – we know that resilience is doing what you can and accepting help when you need it.

And amidst the heartbreak, there has been humour. Last weekend, I saw someone wearing a tee-shirt that said, “Tested to 7.1, and 6.3 and 5.8 and 10,000 shakes”.

I am so proud to have been a member of the CPIT community during this time. The challenges we faced cannot compare to those where lives were lost, and I am thankful that our staff and students came through this safely. CPIT’s efforts have been extraordinary – getting classes back up and running, repairing our premises and systems, ensuring educational outcomes for our students, looking out for them and for one another.

Our lives changed – we are more aware of the important role that we play in our shattered community and how we must strive to contribute to its rebuild and recovery.

The past is traumatic, the future is uncertain and at times, the present is frustrating. Our lives have changed forever and we must harness what we have learnt in this last year to build a future for ourselves and our city. I know that with the spirit that has been shown in the last twelve months, with tolerance and compassion, with determination and optimism and by supporting one another, we can honour the memories of those we have lost and recover to be even greater than before.

These are my reflections and I invite you to share your thoughts in our remembrance book and contribute to CPIT’s historical record.

Kia kaha.