Monday, 14 November 2016

Did the earth move for you?

I see no ships
There is much I love about New Zealand: a place of great natural beauty and contrast. In the winterless north the climate is sub-tropical while in the far south the weather is akin to that found in Scotland and lush bush land gives way to majestic mountain peaks. I love the gentle nature of the society. While it is true that all of societies’ ills can be found here, they do not occur to the same extent as beset the UK, Europe and the USA and inexplicably the economy is thriving. I love New Zealand’s isolation. The hurly-burly of the world’s political maelstrom passes us by as we bask in the South Pacific unmolested by quarrels petty and profound. New Zealand is quaintly insular. The media is highly egocentric and almost oblivious to major world events. NZ rugby is king and dominates the newspapers to a farcical degree. The Kiwis are friendly, without guile and wonderfully frank. My dry expressionless humour is often misinterpreted. The other day at a health and safety meeting I made the suggestion that staff should be issued with Tasers in the remote possibility of violence in the workplace. I even suggested a YouTube video describing how to make one from an electric fly swatter. The room went very quiet until the Chairperson chimed in: “I was thinking along the lines of psychological techniques to defuse potentially dangerous confrontations”. No one picked up that I was just joking and I didn’t have the heart to disabuse the good folk attending the meeting, although I did receive a couple of odd looks.
For all the positives and advantages of living in this wonderful country there is a downside. New Zealand sits fair and square on multiple seismic fault lines. At midnight last night a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked large swathes of the South and North islands. I awoke to violent shaking that seemed to go on forever. Vases crashed and the house groaned. I went out onto the deck (probably not wise) and felt the piles under the house sway side to side. After, what seemed an eternity, the shaking stopped. All through the night we experienced major aftershocks. There has been significant damage to parts of the country and as I write two people have been killed, this is likely to increase as the emergency services scour remote areas. My home city has suffered damage especially around the dock area. The Cook strait ferries remain anchored forlornly in the bay unable to enter port until significant structural repairs are made.  
Tsunami warnings have been issued for much of the east coast on both islands however, at this time it is unlikely that there will be a significant surge.
Tis wearing on the nerves especially as aftershocks continue to occur at an alarming rate throughout the day. It appears that this quake was as large as the one that devastated Napier in 1931 however, lucky for us the epicentre occurred in a sparsely populated region. Still, the damage is major and likely to run into billions of dollars. As this follows not long after the Christchurch quake it is bound to put a severe strain on the NZ economy.
And so life goes on. Hopefully no more 'biggies' for a while as every tremor adds another streak of silver to my crown of spun gold............