The Influence of the Christchurch Earthquake on Nz’s Culture and Identity

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The Influence of the Christchurch Earthquake on NZ’s Culture and Identity

Introduction

When talking about New Zealand events, the Christchurch earthquake that happened approximately a year ago came to me first. It is not an event, precisely, it is a disaster that shocked people’s home, broke people’s heart and even took away their lives. However, a disaster does not only affect individuals, but also the whole society. Thus, this essay will discuss the influence that the Christchurch earthquake has on New Zealand’s culture and identity, two social theories that can explain the Christchurch earthquake. one is collectivism and individualism and the other one is ethnography and ethnocentrism. Also the author will make a comparison between Japan’s 311 Earthquake in 2011 and Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008.

In addition to the research, I interviewed two people. One is 23-year-old female, Lauren, who’s born in Christchurch and now worked in Auckland; the other one is Ian, who is a 67-year-old male living in Auckland. Each of them has completed a questionnaire contains 9 questions, regarding the influence of the earthquake on both themselves and the New Zealand society.

Early in September 2010, Christchurch had a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0, an epicenter at 55km (35 miles) north-west of Christchurch and a depth of 12 km (7.5 miles) (“Strong earthquake rocks New Zealand's South Island”, 2010). Right when people think there wouldn’t be a severe aftershock, on February 22th, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch at 12:51 midnight, killing 185 people. The magnitude is not as high as the last one but the power went right towards Christchurch city centre, causing direct damage. After that, rescue and rebuilding have been conducted under the threat of over 7000 aftershocks (“Ask an Expert: why so many aftershocks?”, 2011). Emergency response from both the government and society are quick, with rescue teams, corresponding policies and services. Help came from various organisations such as Red Cross and St John. Other countries also took part in the rescue, including Australia, Japan, China and UK. Till now, the city is definitely recovering from the disaster. People have rebuild the city centre with containers instead of concrete, and named the region “Re: start”. A $2-billion rebuild plan of earthquake-hit central Christchurch has been carried out in order to build a “safe, sustainable, green, high-tech, low-rise city, in a garden - a place for people” (“Christchurch draft rebuild plan revealed”, 2011). When I went here on April, barricades were put around most of the remains, including the Cathedral, which can be barely seen. Tall buildings are being torn down as it is planed no such buildings in the city, since most causalities were died in tall buildings such as the 6-floor CTV building.

From the whole process of the earthquake, collectivism and individualism can be seen everywhere. Seeing through the root of it, collectivism is under the category of sociology, which is the scientific study of human social behavior, concerning about all group activities, in terms of economic, social, political, and religious (“Sociology”, n.d.). From the definition, it is easy to sense an idea of collective. Although human being is born as an individual, they are also born in a society full of complex connections between other individuals. Thus, everyone is an independent entities as well as social animals. The interdependent relationship between individual and society has generated collectivism and individualism. The former means the subjugation of the individual to a group such as a race, class or state. It is contrasted with individualism, in which the rights and interests of the individual are emphasized. In other words, collectivism means being together, and individualism means being yourself.

In the case of earthquake, C. Wright Mills’ theory can be used as he explores the interface between private...
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