< class="pagetitle">Archive for the “Aotearoa” Category

The blog post below is by one of my Twitter "friends" Cheryl Bernstein– it absolutley sums up how I feel, how many of us feel down in Christchurch. It has been 364 days since the first earthquake hit at 4.35am on Saturday 4th September, and this week we have been woken up on 4 nights as aftershocks still shake our battered city. In September we had no idea that this was just some dress rehearsal, in a way a sick joke by Mother Nature- we thought we had got this whole earthquake thing sussed, no loss of life, mostly home safe in beds, yeah, we could cope. February taught us otherwise- buildings do fall down, lives are lost, our world has changed for ever, and it is still ongoing. In my area we are surrounded by the Red Zone- I drive past house after house which will be demolished and not rebuilt. In our sub-division (estate) we wait to find out if we face the same fate. Many of us know that our houses will be demolished-maybe 80% of our street will go, but we all want to rebuild here. We wait to hear if this is possible or if they will deem it too difficult with our land. Despite the government's offers of help, we stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of this is the case- but more importantly we lose our neighbours, our community, our place in the world.

And through this we might seem resilient on the outside, but most of us want to cry, to kick and scream and say "it isn't fair, we don't want to do this any more". So thank you Cheryl for summing this up so well. We carry on because becauase we have no choice, but it does not mean that we are not hurting every step of the way.








Cheryl Bernstein: "Resilience" is a word we're hearing a lot these days in Christchurch. In fact, the visionary new Central City Plan includes the words 'resilient' or 'resilience' 36 times in 154 pages. Our ruined city will be rebuilt with a foundation of resilience. The new buildings which populate it will be resilient to the violent seismic activity which we have now come to expect. Social resilience and the strength of communities will be considered in the construction of urban public space and in zoning decisions. (Technology, in the new Christchurch, will be at the service of society: like the bionic man, the city will be stronger and better than before. A resilient utopia on the plains. Eventually.)

And significantly, the people of Canterbury, who have experienced more than 2500 earthquakes of M3 and above in the last year, are often said by national and local commentators to be extremely resilient.

Tough, even.

That was how National Radio introduced their piece on the devastating news that 20% of Kaiapoi's homes would be forcibly demolished due to severe land damage. "They're tough, in Kaiapoi…"

Except that they're not. And the people of nearby Christchurch are not. They're the same as people anywhere, in Ponsonby or Temuka or Karori or Murupara. The people of New Zealand's second-biggest city are not a sturdy-legged race of dour peasants with a high pain threshold. They're you, and your Mum, and your neighbours, and the guy in the dairy, and the people you went to school with. Just New Zealand people. No tougher, no weaker than anyone else. And a year's worth of earthquakes, the loss of houses and possessions and in some cases friends and family members has taken its toll on us all.

Like their counterparts in town, the people of the Kaiapoi red zone are likely to be devastated that they will be forced to leave their homes and that in many cases the payout they receive will be insufficient to buy another house. Many older people, or people on low fixed incomes, of which there are plenty in the residential red zones (I think perhaps that fact is a story in itself), will be unable to raise a mortgage. They will be forced to rent, seeing the equity they once had in their homes drain into the pockets of others. They will see the modest savings that they had hoped to pass on to their children disappear into the profit statements of banks and property developers. They will be forced to leave their homes and their communities, where the personal relationships built up over years have ensured a means of social support for the vulnerable. The question of people's toughness in the face of these repeated blows to their financial and social security is glib, irrelevant and insulting.

The story, clearly, is in what's happening to the people, not in the presumption of their stoic emotional response.

To their great credit, National Radio instantly changed their tack on the interview with Kaiapoi's mayor, after being tweeted about the inherent wrongness of the "they're tough down there" line of approach. The interviewer read out the tweet and asked if it were true that people were devastated. And immediately, they got a response in which he described the great financial, social and emotional cost that local people, including he and his family, were faced with. The earthquakes were the first disaster; their financial consequences for individuals are the second. The mayor's voice cracked as he spoke. He sounded like a courageous man dealing with great uncertainty. This was proper radio journalism. The right questions were asked to get an accurate account of a person's experience. It told a very different story than the ridiculous pre-packaged Tough Southerners routine.

The frame that's put round a view of the world has a great deal to do with the way we understand what we're looking at. A tiny shift to one side or the other makes all the difference in telling a story. If you're standing in any street in Christchurch, things may look much as they always have: but turn 45 degrees and there will be piles of rubble and gaps in the streetscape like broken teeth. The sheer magnitude of it all — three major destructive earthquakes, the closing and levelling of the CBD, the sleepless nights, the deaths, the injuries, the financial cost, the loss of certainty and peace of mind and personal security — is only just starting to be realised. The people are as damaged as the city.

I've never been more aware of the importance of the humanities to people and society than in the last year. The humanities help people make sense of the great events of their own lives and times. There are stories that can only be told through mediums such as painting, or literary non-fiction, or poetry, or music. Stories that in their magnitude can only be approached sideways, through the details of a single life. The eyewitness reportage that journalism adds to the historical account is the basis for many of the stories that can be told later. The particular frame that the artist or the writer puts on their account of life in the city after the earthquake — what they leave out, what they put in — determines how these events, and their politics, will be remembered. It's critical that journalism gets it right as the medium of first response.

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It was announced today that almost 1,000 extra homes will be zoned as red-that means that the houses will be demolished and the land will not be rebuilt on in the foreseebale future. 

"One inescapable fact was that the land and critical infrastructure beneath the hardest hit parts of Kaiapoi and Pines Beach was so badly damaged that any remediation solution would have required the complete removal of all homes we're zoning red today (Stuff, Aug 18).

It is very sad for the town as that is a significant number of houses to lose, with limited number of sections available to rebuild on in the town. It is also very sad for people losing their houses and their communities.

It is also worrying for us as we wait to see the fate of our land-fingers crossed we are green, but I strongly suspect we will be going red too when the news is finally released:(


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The National Library of New Zealand has commissioned photographer Ross Becker to create a heritage record of the recovery process in Christchurch. These photos will in time be permanently available from the National Library's Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA). The aim is to develop a series of photos recording progress as our city recovers from the earthquakes.

The latest taken on 18 July 2011 are available via his Picassa site

Given what Mother Nature has thrown at us (and continues to do so with snow and aftershocks today), I thougth this photo of a poster in a partly demolished shop was particularly poignant.


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Earthquakes, floods and now snow- and once again I hear that the Eastern suburbs have been worse hit.

Thomas is trying to sled down our drive (which has hardly any slope) on a tea tray and I am working in the study watching him and trying to keep warm.

Ww are finding it hard to keep the house warm as there are so many #eqnz gaps and draughts now, but we are lucky that we can afford to at least try,  I feel very sorry for the elderly in this area who are suffering with the cold. We have been checking on neighbours to make sure they are OK.

I am expecting a long, dry and hot summer to make up for all this (please).


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Read the rest of this entry »

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Staff from CORE Education, along with another 20 Kiwis and over 70 Aussies have been in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the past week to attend the 15th International Conference on Thinking, held at Queen's University.

I am pleased to announce that after a lot of hard work, CORE Education has been awarded the right to host the 16th International Conference on Thinking, which will be held in Wellington, New Zealand in January 2013.

The conference will promote cross-discipline involvement in the development of our capacity to think and learn. Speakers will address issues within the overarching theme of “Expanding Global Thinking”:

  • Future Survival – Environment, Science & Technology, Health, Energy
  • Personal Futures – work & leisure, learning, arts & culture, aging populations
  • Future Society – indigenous development, societal institutions, social equity, evolving economies

Delegates and speakers are expected to be drawn from the areas of

  • Education
  • Business
  • Health
  • Sport and leisure
  • Local government

Registrations of Interest are being taken on the ICOT2013 website

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With all the talk about why you might want to leave Christchurch, The Press have been interviewing local residents about why we should stay in our city.

(There is a video on the site but I could not find a way of embedding it here)

I love Lindsay in his flouro vest.. and obviously his wife does too!

1. You're never caught short in Christchurch

Once, finding a toilet in a public place could be a tough task. But in Christchurch, there's now a portaloo on nearly every corner. And, as landscaper Lou Ander told us, it's making it very easy for workmen.

"We never have to order in the toilets on a job site any more," Ander said.

2. There's always a job to be done

Bored? No chance of that. With the constant bubbling of liquefaction, everyone has a job to do. Dayna Maxted, 11, said she's having the time of her life.

"I love cleaning. Seriously. And now I get to clean up all the time," Maxted said.

3. Your 4WD can finally be put to good use

Since the quake, there's a lot more obstacles to be found on Christchurch roads, and some can prove a real challenge. "I like it because it gives my four-wheel-drive a good work out," said Jenni Sands.

4. Fluro is now an acceptable dress code

"I love my fluro and my hard hat because my wife loves it," said Lindsay, an Emergency Operations Centre staff member.

"She thinks I'm sexy."

5. It's still better than Wellington

This one is up for debate, but Christchurch mum Liz Griffith does have a point.

"The weather is still much nicer than windy Wellington," she said.

"My friends will kill me for saying that!"

6. If you're a kid, you get a lot of days off

We found six-year-old Christopher Griffith playing at a park on a Wednesday afternoon.

"I like it because you get lots of days off school," he said.

7. It's still flat – if a bit bumpy – so you can ride your bike everywhere

"There's nothing better than biking across Hagley Park in the really early morning through the frost," said CERA chief Roger Sutton.

"You can't beat it."

8. There's no parking wardens in Christchurch

Patrick and Steve, now members of the EOC, would know all about this one – they used to be parking wardens for Christchurch City Council.

"There's no tickets since the quakes," they said.

9. The Wizard lives in Christchurch – and he's not going anywhere

"Mayors come and go and governments come and go but the Wizard goes on and on," the Wiz said.

"And people like to see me here, it cheers people up."

10. There's always someone to help you out

Peter Beck, Dean of the ChristChurch Cathedral, urges Christchurch's community to stick together.

"Spe Fortis," he said. "It means be strong and hope for the future, and that's what we've got to do."

"We've got to reach out and help each other."


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I was reading Ruth’s blog about the “Earthquake Alphabet” and L for loss rang such a bell- it is true we have all lost something, someone, some place to the bastard earthquakes. Some have lost big things, but we have all lost lots of little things, and sometimes they make up a great big thing to deal with. So here’s my list- not in any order of importance, but just as I think of them…

  • we lost our cat- she was 17 so had a good life, but she hated, hated the earthquakes and spent her last few months scared and jumpy
  • we’ve lost friends who have given up and moved away unable to face it here any more
  • we’ve lost our local shops- in fact all the main shops in this area are closed
  • we’ve lost our sports fields, our bike tracks, our favourite walks
  • we’ve lost our beach- not a place to walk when sewerage is being discharged offshore
  • we’ve lost our home- well not yet but it will be demolished at some point
  • we’ve lost our local sports’ stadium- built for the 1976 Commonwealth Games, and now forecast to costs over $400m to repair, that is if the land can be repaired too
  • we’ve lost our toilets, and our sewers, and maybe our dignity a bit
  • we’ve lost our peace of mind
  • we’ve lost our routines- those little shops we popped into for lunch, the people we saw every day around and about work, in the lifts, in the car park-those little daily chats
  • we’ve lost our sense of security- when the ground beneath you shakes and starts to turn to mush you cannot feel safe
  • we’ve all lost people we know killed in the quake
  • we’ve lost our favourite restaurants and cafes- those places that meant something because special events happened there, or special people were there
  • we’ve lost our rugby stadium- out of action till at least 2012, so no local games to watch and no World Cup games here either
  • we’ve lost our usual points of reference- whole blocks being demolished, will we even recognise the city centre when we are allowed back?
  • we’ve lost time- everything takes so much longer, 30kph speed limits and roads like battlefields slow the process down- no quick trips anywhere now
  • we’ve lost our office- now tantalisingly close to the cordon, but still in the red zone, and still not safe to enter
  • we’ve lost possessions- one of our few wedding presents, leaving presents, things with sentimental stories attached- now all in a series of boxes and bins of broken bits
  • sometimes it feels like we have lost our minds- earthquake brain makes everyday tasks just a bit too hard somedays
  • we will lose our neighbourhood-friends and neighbours will be scattered when the houses come down- who will come back? Will we be able to come back- even that is not known yet.
  • we will lose our garden-hours of work and loving attention-how much can we save before the bulldozers arrive?
  • we’ve lost our ability to have a good night’s sleep- too many bumps in the night to rest easy

Reading this no wonder we are a bit sad, a bit angry, a bit lost, a bit scared. It is a whole new normal out there for us, and just sometimes it seems all a little bit too much.

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As I quoted Glen in an earlier blogpost “We appreciate by now you are fully sick of the earthquake dominating the news day in, day out…  Believe me, so are we”.

A colleague who lives in Wellington said to me recently that the rest of the company were over Christchurch and its earthquake (he is lovely and said it in a much nicer way, but this is what he meant). Vicki Andersen in yesterday’s Press talks about someone who describes the rest of New Zealand as having ”earthquake fatigue”. ”We’re all a bit over it,” she reports he said.

It’s OK. We understand that the rest of the country has moved on. The newspapers in the rest of New Zealand have moved onto other news, to other disasters near and far, and people forget, move on. Its been 2 months they think, it’ll be all sorted now.

However as I said to my colleague “if only it were that easy”- what they all need to understand is that we can’t just move on.

You all need to know that no-one could be more over the earthquakes than Cantabrians. We have endured 2 major quakes in 6 months We’re all sick and tired of those bloody aftershocks- over 5,000 since September. A friend up here in the Waikato was lamenting he had never felt one in 50 years- well buddy, you are more than welcome to some of ours.

People here are exhausted, we’ve been running on adrenalin for weeks. We jump at every loud noise. We panic at the stupidest thing- airplane turbulence suddenly takes you back to shaking buildings, shaky camera work on TV brings back memories of your world moving under your feet.

Our world has changed for ever- for us it will mean losing our house, and maybe half the houses in our street. Our office is in the Red Zone, with no idea of if and when we will see it. And when we do the local coffee shop has gone, the sandwich shop with the young Chinese couple trying to make their living in a new land, gone; Subways gone, the old fashioned grocers shop, stocking my favourite things from England (my safe haven when I was having a bad day), all gone. Empty lots now. Our usual routines, our points of reference are gone. No local shops where I live now- both malls closed, maybe months before they can even start to reopen. Have to find new shops, new hairdressers, new Post Office, new cafes.

As Fiona notes in her blogpost “The change in routine; loss of usual friends, places, things all take their toll on us all – wherever we live. No one is unaffected. Yes we are grateful to be alive, and hopeful things will improve eventually, but it is frankly weird that other people can still build with bricks, concrete, and buy stuff and go places oblivious to the things we now notice and value”

Adrian sums it up wonderfully in his blogpost about the upcoming winter it is hard to think about recovery and rebuilding when many of us are still living it every day. As he says talking about his experience of the February quake “There was always the clenching worry that the aftershock would keep growing, that it wouldn’t stop, that it would snap the building you were in.
And we put up with it for just one day. Times that by one week, one month, two months. Unimaginable to not trust the very ground beneath you, to feel vulnerable in your own home. Day after day. It robs you of your sleep. It robs you of your peace. It stays with you, violating you daily, letting you know it’s in charge”.

We will recover, we will rebuild… but just understand New Zealand that it is just going to take us just a little bit longer to get over this than you. Please bear with us. We need your support.

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Every day since February 22 I have been going to blog- to add some poignant thoughts or recollections. For a while it was too hard- no electricity at home, and dial up internet at our in-laws where we lived for 3 weeks made it a logistical challenge, and a few quick updates on Facebook (via the wonderful iphone) had to suffice. However really the truth when I look back is that every day I ran out of emotional energy before I get that far.It has taken a few days away from Christchurch staying on a friend’s beautiful, peaceful and non shaky farm up in the Waikato to even get me in the space where I can get up to date with many of the blogs in my Feedly RSS feed.

Since the quake I have marvelled at “cyber” friends Sue Wells and Ruth Gardner who have been able to blog regularly. Ruth has provided an amazing insight into life inside the cordon and Sue (who has suffered so much loss recently) daily makes me laugh, makes me cry and says what I want to say, but oh so much better. Others give different perspectives-  Adrian Pratt provides the view of an American living in our shaky city and Fiona Richardson adds the perspective of how our pets are coping with the times.

My goal at the start of the year was to blog every day, I have failed spectacularly, but am not going to beat myself up. We are all coping in different ways. I have managed to keep my home life together, despite a broken home, and have kept work together, despite still being locked out of our offices 2 months later. I will blog when I feel like it, and when I don’t I will marvel at those wonderful friends of mine who can and do say something wonderful on a regular basis.

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Collapsed buildings and debris along Manchester Street in Christchurch. Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images

Collapsed buildings and debris along Manchester Street in Christchurch. Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images

I cannot begin to pretend I wrote this- I found it on Holly’s blog, a fellow Cantabrian and she got it from a Facebook friend Glen- so whoever you are Glen- well done. This is great and it totally sums us up.

There are many ways you can tell we’re from Christchurch…

Christchurch people are often jumpy.
We have a tendency to look up to check what we’re under.
We walk near the edge of the footpath, as close to the road as we can.
We often seem…um… distracted.
We use words like “Liquefaction” and “Munted” as a part of everyday conversation.
We often say, “What was that?” or “Did you feel something?” or more commonly “There’s one”.
We are… forgetful.
We appreciate electricity but we appreciate water more.

Christchurch people are all experts in Geology, Seismology and Structural Engineering.
We are spooked by loud noises.
We prefer single story buildings.
We’re not so fussed on lifts… or stairwells for that matter.
We are good friends with adrenalin and fear.
We are occasionally snappy, for no apparent reason.
We occasionally get a bit teary, for no apparent reason.

Christchurch people own survival kits.
We are packed and ready to go at a moments notice.
We know what community spirit really means.
We all know our neighbours.
We notice the little things, like cracks.
Subconsciously, we are always checking our escape route.

We think nothing of piles of rubble, missing buildings, silt and sink holes.
We think nothing of driving on the wrong side of the road or having to boil drinking water.
We think nothing of cordons and curfews or seeing an army tank blocking the street.
We think nothing of wearing a dust mask to go outside or of making a toilet visit in the back garden.

I only wish I was exaggerating.

The trauma people tell us that all of these things are perfectly ‘normal’.
So if we are normal, what does ‘abnormal’ look like?

We appreciate by now you are fully sick of the earthquake dominating the news day in day out…  Believe me, so are we.

Words can’t easily describe what we’ve been through and are still going through.  To be honest we’re still trying to work it out for ourselves but you’ll find we are usually happy to talk about it.
It’s actually helpful for us to talk about it. So we don’t mind your questions.

Our houses may be damaged and our lives may have changed but Christchurch is still an awesome place to be.  We have attitude… loads of it.

Thank you for all of your messages of support.
Thank you for wearing Red and Black.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for calling us, just to say “Hi”.

Christchurch people have a mammoth challenge ahead.
We are Cantabrians.
We are proud.
We’ll get there.

If anybody reading this would like the support the fundraising effort to rebuild this city, you can donate to the New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal, or support the TelstraClear Bands 4 Hope campaign.

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It has taken me 8 days to be able to even write this. Whereas some of my friends & colleagues have been able to sit down and type eloquent missives each day (e.g Derek & Ruth-who gives a fascinating insight into life inside the cordons), I have found that the last week has been a succession of half finished jobs as too many things to do and too little mental energy means a lack of completed tasks.

At 12.51pm on Tuesday 22 February 2011 our world changed for every when a 6.3m earthquake struck just outside Christchurch city. At present there are 161 dead, with maybe another 100 people missing. In a  few seconds it made a lie of almost everything we Cantabrians have said about the dress rehearsal that we got with the 7.1 quake in September 2010.

We patted ourselves on the back then-

  • we had had a major quake and no-one died
  • how lucky we were that it hit when it did in the middle of the night- most people at home with families, quiet in the city and on the roads
  • whilst there was damage (extensive in some areas) for many people life returned to normal within a few weeks
  • we told our children they were safe- these buildings have stood up to a 7.1 and survived and they have survived we said glibly
  • we told them that they had faced probably the greatest natural disaster they would ever experience and that there was no need to worry

After a few months of fearing every aftershock, and a wee scare on Boxing Day, we had become complacent- we relaxed, and we started to slowly rebuild our lives and our city. We were so wrong.

We know now that September was like some sick joke-luring us all into a false sense of security. The 22nd of February was the real thing- much more violent despite the lower magnitude, at lunchtime, with an epicentre close to the city centre, 50,000 people in the Central Business District (CBD), all trying to get home, all frantic to find family and friends, devastation over large parts of the city.

We were tired after the September quake, but the New Year brought a sense of rebuilding and rebirth. This quake has hit us hard, we will get through, they make us strong in this province, but this time it will be a bloody sight harder to do.

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The Press newspaper has been doing a round up of what is happening in the city 5 months after the Canterbury earthquake – these are a few of the stats I have gleaned from the articles:

  • 9,000 sections to have land remediation (that includes ours)
  • 45kms of road to repair
  • 25 bridges need work
  • 300kms of sewerage pipes to be replaced
  • 400 heritage buildings to be repaired
  • 6,000 hospital rooms to be fixed
  • $460m to repair Christchurch’s infrastructure
  • 179 schools with damage to buildings and land
  • 70% decline in central city trading since September 4th
  • 177,000 claims received by Earthquake Commission
  • 2,000 homes uninhabitable
  • 3,300 homes badly damaged and awaiting indication of whether they can be repaired
  • 30,000homes suffered chimney damage
  • 164 parks and sports fields to be repaired
  • 14,212 – number of claims that came in for Boxing Day aftershock
  • 3,500 – number of homes which may have to be rebuilt
  • $3.5 billion – upper estimate of total cost
  • 250 – number of EQC teams in the field working six days a week

These numbers don’t begin to explain the impact that this has all had on the population of the city, but they go some way to explaining the sheer scale of the task ahead of Christchurch, and why this will not be a quick fix

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We spent a very pleasant Saturday night with friends at the ever popular ASB Classical Sparks in Hagley Park. This event which is free to attend is part of Christchurch City Council’s great Summertimes programme.

I particular enjoyed the song (something to do with Heroes) which was sung by a group paid up of 12 members from the New Zealand Defence Forces, calling themselves the DF12.

After a Maori welcome the evening started with the popular ‘Ride of the Valkyeries’ – played by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, but the advertised “guest appearance of the RNZAF during the rendition” did not occur- I had heard on the radio that this was to be a helicopter but luckily did not mention it to Thomas as there was no sign.

It was a bit confusing as the military theme seemed more relevant to ANZAC Day than Waitangi, but to advance the theme, the wonderful New Zealand Army Band also performed with their rousing music and their great dance routines.  There was also the Christchurch City Choir  and local singer Rachel Doig who with MC Mark Hadlow sang ‘World in Union’ to herald the arrival of Rugby World Cup (but for some reason, maybe copyright, they were not allowed to say Rugby World Cup!)

The second half will had a very different feel,  as singers and dancers from Chante Dance recreated a  salute to the Andrews Sisters and songs from WWII.

The spectacular end to the evening was all the artists on stage – the mass choir, singers, Army band and orchestra performing Bohemian Rhapsody. Amazing fireworks and some great singing.

A wonderful evening- thanks CCC>

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As you walk down Twizel everywhere you look you see beautiful Rowan trees in full bloom. Folklore says that an abundance of  berries means a hard winter so I hope the locals are stocking up with firewood. I notice that DOC (Dept of Conservation) say they are a pest, but I must admit I think they look lovely!

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