The Grand Old Lady



On 16 February 1770, the famed British explorer, navigator and cartographer Cap-tain James Cook (1728-1779) in the ship “Endeavour” sights an island on the lower eastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand and names it after Joseph Banks – a botanist who accompanied him on his first voyage to the Pacific Ocean. It was a trip sponsored by the Royal Society of England whose purpose was to observe and record the transit of planet Venus – named after the Roman Goddess of Love principally as-sociated with beauty and fertility, across the Sun.


The result of his observations was not as conclusive or accurate as had been hoped. But much later. Cook mapped the complete New Zealand coastline. In doing so, his expedition became the first recorded by a European to have encountered its coastlines paving the way many years later for a party of whalers from Sydney Australia to established themselves early in 1840 in what is now Christchurch.


These first Europeans eventually abandoned their holdings which were taken over by the Deans brothers in 1843, who stayed. Seven years later, on 16 December 1850, the sails of four chartered ships contracted by the Canterbury Association – the Randolph, Charlotte-Jane, Sir George Seymore and the Cres-sy, were seen from the horizon. They delivered the first 792 migrants (also known as the ‘Canterbury Pilgrims’) from the British Isles to what is now called Lyttleton Harbour.




The Canterbury Association was formed in order to establish a colony in what is now the Canterbury Region in the South Island of New Zealand. The colony was sponsored by the Church of England and its management was headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and included several other bishops and clergy, as well as members of the British peerage and Parliament. The Canterbury Pilgrims had aspirations of building a city to named Christchurch modeled around the Canter-bury Cathedral in Hampshire England and a college in honor of Christ Church College in Oxford.


Not long after, Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, the first in New Zealand. It became the seat of provincial administration for the Province of Canterbury until 1876. Many of the buildings that were constructed as Christchurch was being built were designed by architect Benjamin Mountfort – an English emigrant to New Zealand, who became one of country’s most pro-minent 19th century architects. He was instrumental in shaping the city of Christchurch’s unique architectural character, identity and culture. Heavily influenced by the Anglo-Catholic philosophy behind early Victorian architec-ture, he is credited with importing the Gothic revival style to New Zealand.


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This video is brought to you by the Christchurch City Council and is sourced from its video channel site on YouTube.




Christchurch and its surrounding areas are unique in New Zealand for their particular style of architecture which is directly attributed to Mountfort. He is today better known for the designs executed for public, civic bodies, and the church. His monumental Gothic stone civic buildings in Christchurch, are an amazing achievement over scarcity of materials. His hallmark wooden Gothic churches epitomised the 19th-century province of Canterbury and his achieve-ment was to make his favoured style of architecture synonymous with the iden-tity of the province of Canterbury.


The City of Christchurch is a grand old lady. She reflects the regal bearing of Queen Vic-toria (1819-1901) – the English monarch who reigned when the city was founded, and the pleasant charm of an English countryside all graced with surrounding parks, gardens and the River Avon which meanders through it. As a backdrop, the Southern Alps beckon you to explore the rest of the Canterbury plains.


Christchurch is one of a group of only four cities in the world that were carefully planned following the same layout of a central city square, four complimenting city squares sur-rounding it and a parklands area that embrace the city centre. The first three cities built with this pattern were Philadelphia and Savannah in the USA and Adelaide in Australia.


As such, Christchurch holds an important le-gacy and a strong platform for future deve-lopment but it is now one which has been literally shaken and rattled to the ground starting with the first magnitude 7.1 quake (04 September 2010); then a magnitude 6.3 trembler (22 February 2011); and then again a magnitude 5.7 shake (13 June 2011). Taken together, a 1-2-3 knockdown punch hard to re-cover from.




Christchurch is home to an estimated 2,000 Filipinos. The February 2011 Christchurch quake, which was relatively milder in intensity than its predeces-sor in September 2010, nevertheless delivered a punishing body blow to an already weakened city infrastructure in terms of lives. About 30 minutes after the quake created havoc in the central city, Rhea Mae Sumalpong – a Filipina nurse from the province of Cebu Philippines sent a text message to her mother Marlene in Australia begging her for assistance.Ma, we’re trapped at the CTV building. We need help, please rescue us,” Rhea Mae typed in her message.My legs are totally numb, and I can’t feel any pain,” she added.


Rhea Mae and five other Filipinos were studying at the Kings Education School on the third floor of the CTV building in preparation for their New Zealand Nursing Board exams scheduled in March the following month, when it col-lapsed in a heap, trapping many people. The others that were with her were identified as Emmabelle Anoba, John Kristoffer Chua, Ezra Mae Medalle, Jessie Lloyd Redoble and Jewel Francisco Uy. Her desperate plea for rescue sparked fears that up to 120 people were also trapped like her inside that building.


The effort of rescuers who came in from other parts of the world was heroic but for some, it came too late. The final death toll was 181 people, with 172 people identified, and 9 who remain unidentified. The Police released a final list of ca-sualties (as of 03 May 2011). The Filipinos (and their ages) included in the count were:


Lalaine Collado Agatep, 38
Ma.Louise Anne Bantillo Amantillo, 23
Emmabelle Cabahug Anoba, 26
Valquin Descalsota Bensurto, 23
Ivy Jane Cabunilas, 33
Jewel Jose Francisco, 26
Ezra Mae Sabayton Medalle, 24
Erica Avir Reyes Nora, 20
Jessie Lloyd Redoble, 30
Rhea Mae Sumpalong, 25


The coroner added that 116 people were killed in the CTV Building subject to an inquest. Other deaths occurred in the following locations: the PGC building (18); trapped in public buses (7); other CBD locations (29); and other locations in Christchurch including Bromley, Dallington, Linwood, Lyttelton, Redcliffs, Ric-carton and Sumner (11).


New Zealand, like the Philippines, is situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire – an area where large numbers of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. For your safety, it is best to be prepared for such natural calamity disaster events as they will happen.


The information provided below might be of some help in spelling out the dif-ference between your life or death in your area: 


Get The Download: Get Prepared For An Emergency Brochure

Christchurch Earthquake Hotline Number: 00-64-220-754-617



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