UC remembers quake anniversary
22 February 2012
More than 1000 people gathered at the University of Canterbury today to remember and pay tribute to those who died and were affected by the earthquake of 22 February 2011.
A 30-minute memorial service held on the University’s central lecture theatre lawn saw staff, students, contractors and friends of UC gather together to reflect on the events of the past year. The service included a two-minute silence at 12.51pm, the time the earthquake struck the city, in memory of the 185 people who died.
To mark the anniversary a temporary tape art mural depicting the work of the Student Volunteer Army was created by Erica Duthie and Struan Ashby of Tape Art New Zealand. The mural was placed on the outside wall of the University’s Central Lecture Theatre building.
Speaking to those gathered, UC Chancellor Dr John Wood said today marked “a significant point in our grieving”.
“We are here to remember and pay tribute to the dead, to those injured and in other ways still suffering, and to extend our continuing sympathy, support and encouragement to them, their families and friends. We must constantly remind ourselves that for many, these trials are by no means over; that we must watch after each other, and continue both to offer and know when to accept help when it is needed.”
Dr Wood said even a year after the events of that day it was still difficult to fully grasp the magnitude and severity of some of the things that happened. Among those who lost their lives were four UC students, two who had teaching affiliations with the University, the wife of a staff member and 12 alumni.
The University itself went into “immediate shutdown mode” and remained closed for three weeks.
“But from that first moment the response of all concerned – the Vice-Chancellor and his senior management team, all of our staff and all our students – was magnificent. Everyone, despite in many personal instances having their own losses and traumas to cope with, worked tirelessly to get the University up and running again and, importantly, to commit to delivering a quality full academic year of teaching and learning in 2011.”
Dr Wood also paid tribute to students who reached out to the wider community, “touching the hearts not only of Christchurch and Canterbury, but of the nation and beyond”.
“The Student Volunteer Army reminded us of the power of inspirational leadership, self-motivation and collective goodwill, and those lessons will be an enduring legacy of an otherwise tragic chapter in the history of Christchurch. It is a mantra of ours that Canterbury produces people who are equipped and prepared to make a difference. We have always done so and there could now be no more dramatic evidence than the Student Volunteer Army that we continue to do so.”
Dr Wood thanked the University’s “many friends” who offered support in its time of need – the universities who hosted UC students, alumni and friends who donated scholarship money for students, the government and other individuals and groups who offered their assistance.
However, Dr Wood said that while the one year anniversary was a time to pay our respects, it was also a time to look to the future.
“To those of you who are new to Christchurch or are from this region and have decided to come to UC, I want to convey my special thanks for the confidence you have shown in this city and this University. We will not let you down.”
He said the events of 2011 would not deflect the University from its path, set in 2009, of promoting and developing a world-class learning environment “known for attracting people with the greatest potential to make a difference”.
“I see nothing in the post-earthquake situation which should deflect us from that path, despite the challenges, especially in their financial aspects, having both multiplied and been made more acute.
“I actually take heart from what has happened or, more accurately, from this University’s united response to what has happened to it. I believe that out of adversity can, and will, come positive change. We have set a course for the University. We have compelling evidence from the recent past for what we have in our hearts known all along to be the case – that if we are agreed on what needs to be done, then that collective goodwill I talked about will bring us safely home,” he said.
“I am convinced that moving forward in the same spirit of unity and collective intent which has marked this past year, and is evident here at this moment, best guarantees what the future will be a positive one for our great University, for this city and for ourselves. We can make it happen.”
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