Wagner: Time to pause and reflect

The names of those who perished are etched on the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

Today is the seventh anniversary of the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

Seven years is a significant length of time and in all our lives it’s brought challenging and often unexpected changes.

Everyone on this journey has faced testing times. Losing somebody we have known and loved, and many of us are without places that were close to our hearts and so many things that we were attached to.

And as these people, places and often simple things leave us, there are connections and memories that we just can’t replace. At times the loss is heart-breaking.

Every day we are challenged by the rebuild. Our city and neighbourhood looks different, we travel on new roads, visit sensational new buildings and workplaces as they open, and enjoy leafy new people-friendly public spaces. But we also know the enormity of the task, and that there is still a way to go. And in the meantime we dodge the road cones, temporary fencing, and support people, still caught up in earthquake repairs, and look forward to ticking off each additional major milestone.

And all the way through these last seven years we have had flashes of enormous pride in the community we belong to. How we supported our neighbours in those crucial first few days (which still feel so recent), how nationwide and international first responders so willingly and courageously did what had to be done, how our Student Army made us proud, and how we worked together to come up with a vision for our city.

This week I spent some time at our beautiful earthquake memorial – I was just one of many who came past to pause and reflect. Close by, our city is coming alive as people and businesses move back into its heart.

The earthquakes have absolutely changed our way of thinking. I feel we are more open-minded, more focussed on our community and more aware of what really matters personally in our lives and to our families.

The last seven years have brought us closer together as Cantabrians and that will be our strength going forward.

We have a strong commitment to remember those whom we have lost by making the most of every opportunity the earthquakes have presented.

We aspire to more – a more connected, a more beautiful, people-friendly, and more sustainable city. A place of opportunity for all, for current generations and generations to come. That’s a legacy we can all embrace and work towards.

•Nicky Wagner is a National list MP based in Christchurch Central