Heroes (Heroines) I Have (Recently) Known

A hero(ine) is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for one’s brave deeds and noble qualities.  I know, now, who they are and why. Let me count the ways.

We have become, in Christchurch, a tale of two cities. Out west, we are relatively unaffected and seek to help.  In the east, the CBD and the south, we are devastated and struggling to survive.  There lies a natural, if tragic, marriage of interest.  My heroes and heroines fall into these two categories.

They Who Struggle to Survive

Barry of New Brighton, who has been acting as a street-leader, acquiring a generator early on, linking homes for power by cable, establishing an out-door food and water distribution centre, appealing (through me) for gas coupons and port-a-loos, and devoting a large fraction of his personal money to kick-start his community’s local relief effort.

Daphne of Dallington, who, in her mid-70s, survived an eruption of liquefaction that snapped her concrete living-room floor in two as she sat there, a swirl that also poured in through the front door and enveloped her to knee-level, and who, unable to get out that way, negotiated her way through the back and out through the garage.  She continued to live in her house for ten days, with putrefied carpet and thick mud to accompanying odour, until being relocated by friends to the safety of the western suburbs.  She has remained indomitable through this ordeal, confining herself to the observation that her relatively new home was ‘just a building’ and that what is important is life itself.  She was recently widowed.

Another heroine around the corner whom I met and whose name I have, mid-70s, with cancer and a husband with a serious heart condition, unable to leave the house, eking out a post-quake life on food brought in, concerned more for her husband than herself, asking only for water, milk and bread, and the continuing monitoring of their medical team, but prepared to continue living where they do; asking for nothing more, remaining proud.

Andrea of New Brighton, pleading over a three-day period for a port-a-loo to service two families with five kids, in a manner that was unfalteringly intense, urgent, persistent and courteous.

They Who Seek to Help

Bruce Tulloch, who works around the clock, combining compassion, energy, foresight and stamina to the myriad tasks of network building between east and west, food and water storage and delivery, food cooking (with Doreen), fund-raising, and sign-writing. 

Ashley Robinson, who does much the same (with Stella), with the added brilliance of tuning in to Concert Radio so we could hear Thomas Tallis as we drove through the dusted Hell that was Wednesday’s nor’wester.

Suzanne and Jane, who attend the MP hotline for trouble-shooting with unfailing efficiency, courtesy and good cheer.

The Heirloom Boys (Jim and Logan) who run My Garden Ltd, producing the greatest organic vegetables known to mankind, who donated much of it to our Green volunteer cause on Saturday.

Mark and Annabel Roulston, with their Loburn orchard which produces the tastiest and crispest organic apples in the world (hyperbole is in order for this blog) and who donated/discounted 140 kg just like that.

Jamie, Sam and Holly, of Christchurch Farmers Market, who have deserved an honour for some time for developing the glorious market at Riccarton Bush each Saturday, and who assisted with the Green fund-raiser Saturday morning that effortlessly raised $2,061.50 within a few hours.

All the Green volunteers who have devoted time and energy and camaraderie to our humanitarian ventures out east, and those non-members who were happy to pitch in with us – especially the mother-daughter combinations: Judy and Rosie; Jackie and Olivia. 

Sam Johnson, Richard Evans and their student colleagues for their remarkable feats of organization and group energy in spade work and leaflet-dropping, showing the special spirit that only youth can display in times of crisis.  Thank God for youth. 

None of these people – and there are others I could name — asked for, or expected, anything.  Nor possibly will they receive any official acknowledgement.  But they represent the best of the human spirit, and to them, I simply say – you are the heroes and heroines in my life, in this place, at this time.

2 Comments Posted

  1. Do not assume Kennedy that ‘out west’ we are ‘relatively unaffected’ that is not the case.
    I realise you are emphasisiing needs you are seeing, but the unseen for many of us in ‘west’ is we too have family seriously affected, persons we knew, killed, stress to overcome and our Neighbourhood Support groups have done their own door knocking, supporting, helping, loaning petrol, time, beds, showers, etc.

  2. New Zealand has one of the highest levels of volunteerism in the world and in times of crisis this intrinsic quality bubbles through with more resilience than liquefaction. Good on you Ken for naming these people, perhaps there could be a web site where people could thank their own heroes/heroines as I’m sure there are many more out there who are doing selfless things for others. I know none will expect thanks but many may like the opportunity to do so.

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