Human stories

Signs of the times

Deryn Tregurtha is making replica street signs as souveniers for people leaving red zoned suburbs. She was inspired to make them when the street sign for her own street was stolen. read the story »

Janice Moss: daughter of Dallington

The Christchurch community that has defined Janice Moss's life will soon be gone. The suburb where the 82-year-old played as a child, married, worked, raised a family and grew fruit trees from saplings will be largely wiped from the map. read the story »

Lost in seconds

Liz and Peter Cammock

Liz Cammock talks of the life-changing moments when the CTV building collapsed beneath her and took away her home and community. read the story »


Security fears

Police are moving to calm fears that burglary and vandalism is out of control in the residential red zone.

We revealed earlier this month that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is spending $1000 a day on private security to keep the red zone safe. Red zone residents responded with stories of burglary and vandalism and fears that some crime was not being recorded. read the story »

Red zone security

The Government is spending $1000 a day on private security to prevent arson, squatting and burglary in the residential red zone. read the story »

On patrol

Rory Garland patrols Christchurch’s shattered streets alone. On some streets, his torch is the only light, his ute the only sign of life. Charlie Gates joins his rounds for a night. read the story »

Living on the edge

Bill and Sally Martin look out over their Christchurch community from a balcony at the back of their home.

"There will be nothing from here to the bridge and the river. We are right out on the edge. It is not a place to be. We can't cope with it. It is too big for us."

The residential red-zone boundary runs down the edge of the Martins' Wainoni driveway and along their back fence, passing within metres of their front step. When the red-zoned houses have been demolished, the Martins will be able to see all the way to Porritt Park and the Avon River from their balcony. They are not happy to see the community they have enjoyed for 40 years demolished around them. read the story »


Red zone residents have fond memories of a sea elephant that made the Avon River her home in the 1980s. Elizabeth the sea elephant lived in the Avon and Heathcote rivers from the late 1970s until her death in 1985. She could often be seen sunbathing on the riverbank or even in the road. read the story »

Possums are moving into abandoned Christchurch suburbs and a very rare bird has returned to the city as wildlife reacts to the earthquakes. The growing number of possums is just one of many changes in local wildlife in response to population and landscape changes in eastern Christchurch, including tree saplings already sprouting on empty sites and a potential fall in birds like pukekos. read the story »

History and heritage

A modest Christchurch villa overlooking the Avon River could be the oldest house in the residential red zone. The former Richmond farmhouse dates back to the 1870s but will be demolished as part of the clearance of the suburban red zone. The building has changed very little over more than a century, but the neighbourhood has changed beyond recognition. read the story »

Heritage homes in the Christchurch residential red zone could be rescued from demolition.

The residential red zone is home to dozens of 19th-century homes, including a cluster of historic cottages in the Avon Loop, and tells the history of suburban Christchurch. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust is combing the red zone for heritage buildings and is in talks with authorities and landowners to save some of them. read the story »

Work crews

Front lawns are a good indicator of a community's sense of pride.

As Christchurch's red-zoned suburbs slowly empty of people, front yards have been transformed into tangles of chest-high grass. But a specially appointed team of former beneficiaries has taken on the task of maintaining nearly 8000 red-zone properties. read the story »

Ideas for the transition

A river festival, community gardens feeding the Christchurch poor, a pumpkin farm and a sound link across the Avon River are just a few of the ideas on how the residential red zone could be used.

Community leaders, gardeners and activists are puzzling over how the 630-hectare residential red zone could be put to productive use after the homes have been demolished but before a long-term future is decided for the land. read the story »


Bill Cooper’s brickwork survived the Canterbury earthquakes, but his community did not. read the story »

Demolition worker Mark "Will" Williamson is breaking into a house in the residential red zone. He takes a sledgehammer, smashes a window and clambers in. read the story »

When Mary Jo Gagan found herself shouting in the street, she knew it was time to leave Christchurch. read the story »

A chalk message unlocked the history of one red zone house. The Locksley Ave property on the banks of the Avon River in Dallington was home to the Cooper family for nearly 50 years. When demolition workers arrived at the house last month to bring it down, there was a chalk message waiting for them. read the story »


Christchurch's century-old trees will be spared in the demolition of red-zone homes, the Government promises. But campaigners fear many suburban trees could be accidentally killed when houses are brought down. read the story »


A reflection

The Zone Life series has explored Christchurch’s residential red zone. To conclude the series, CHARLIE GATES reflects on how the city has changed. read the story »