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The Day The Earth Moved Under Our Feet

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The New Zealand Film Archive - Sound Archives
Presentation type: 
spoken paper
8 October Wednesday
Start time: 
CFB Auditorium

September 4, 2010, at 4.35am Christchurch was struck by a 7.1 earthquake. Luckily it was in the early hours of Saturday morning when most people were asleep in bed and the streets were relatively empty, apart from the few late night party goers who witnessed the event. Sound Archives was a mess with many items off the shelves and disarray everywhere. A week later we were back in our building cleaning up.

It was just another cloudy Tuesday at lunchtime on February 22, 2011, when an intense but shallow earthquake measuring 6.3 struck Christchurch at 12.51pm. This was not to be an ordinary Tuesday.

The entire city was a disaster zone and in a state of chaos and shock. 185 people lost their lives.

Sound Archives was forced out of our building by a natural disaster and, like the rest of the central business district, was not permitted to return as a state of civil emergency had been declared. The inner city was locked down and in a state of chaos. In the weeks that followed people throughout the city found themselves making snap decisions regarding their personal lives, homes and employment. Our lives changed that fateful day on many levels.

This presentation will document the process of the recovery operation of our sound archive and the collaboration with other institutions to assist in our joint recovery efforts. It will cover the archive reinstatement project and process of physically piecing back the huge jigsaw of about 70,000 items, and how we worked in tandem with our catalogers to ensure all sorted items were married up to carriers in our archive database.

Out of the fallen bricks and rubble this natural disaster and its unprecedented sequence of aftershocks has been both physically and emotionally demanding but there is a silver lining.