Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking at Dunedin with new eyes

One of the things the earthquake in Christchurch has done has got me looking at Dunedin with fresh eyes. And I am left with two main thoughts.

Love my city
The first thing that I am doing is really taking notice of what is around me, and not taking the city so much for granted. I have been looking at the lovely buildings we have, appreciating the wonderful churches and acknowledging the history that is evident in our architecture. I do not know what our chances are of having a devastating earthquake like Christchurch, but I have a sense of what Cantabrians must feel like, seeing their iconic churches and historical buildings brought to the ground.

Promises
I have made myself two promises that I aim to carry out in the next few weeks as a way of celebrating Dunedin. Firstly, I am going to go on one of the walking tours around Dunedin that is provided from the Early Settlers Museum, which will give me a much better understanding of our local history. And secondly, I am going to have a really good look around the beautiful churches we have here, like St Paul's Cathedral and the First Church of Otago.

Cause for concern
My other big thought is how Dunedin would do in a big earthquake...how much of our architecture and buildings would survive? And I have to say, I have serious concerns. We have some wonderful old buildings that are being badly neglected to the point that they are already falling down...goodness only knows what would happen in an earthquake!

I am not an architect and know nothing about building conservation, but I would say Dunedin has to look very carefully at the experience of Christchurch and ask some really hard questions of itself. What are we going to do to conserve our architecture, especially in the Princes Street area, from a historical perspective as well as public safety point of view?

What do you Dunedinites think?


Image: 'First Church of Otago'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/18645779@N00/3110872793

3 comments:

Merrolee said...

Sarah - a lovely reflective post as always. The walking tour is great - friends gave us a voucher as a Christmas present one year. Having lived here since 1993, and thinking that I had a reasonable handle on the history of Dunedin - I learnt heaps! You get taken into First Church on the tour.. which I think before the tour I had never set foot in - so was a little embarrassed about that!

So enjoy your tour.... and i'm hoping that the Council is taking stock as part of the learning we can all take from what has happened in the beautiful city of Chch.

Carolyn Hastie said...

Oh Sarah, I love New Zealand! I have found the earthquake and the loss of life and infrastructure sad and painful to contemplate. My heart has gone out to all those who have been affected by this tragedy. This horrific event has made many of us take stock and focus on what we have and what's around us, to be grateful for each moment and never take anything or anyone for granted.

Your post has caused me to want to come and visit Dunedin! Merrolee is right, this post of yours is a lovely reflective one 'as usual'. I like the idea of the tour. I'll have to remember that activity when I come to Dunedin. I'm also motivated, as a result of your post, to go on the Sydney night tour - that sounds like fun too. Thanks for the post and the triggers for continuing the adventure.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks Merrolee, hope it doesn't take me as long to do this tour as it is taking to come and see you :)

Carolyn: you're very welcome to come and stay any time. Dunedin is a beautiful city with a unique opinion all of its own.