WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

People and Places – a year on from the Kaikōura earthquake

WelCom November 2017: Two minutes after midnight, Monday 14 November last year, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook central New Zealand intensely. The quake’s epicentre was 15kms north-east of Culverden and 60kms southeast of Kaikōura on the South Island’s east-coast. Among those who felt the quake most strongly were the northern east-coast communities including Seddon, Ward, Clarence and Kaikōura. A year on, some of the parishioners and community support workers connected to Marlborough’s widespread Star of the Sea Parish, share their stories.


Deb Lawson.

Deb Lawson, Chair, Kaikōura Sacred Heart Stewardship Committee; District Nurse

“People here are quietly optimistic for a prosperous summer for businesses – but there is still some disquiet. There is a huge new workforce and accommodation is an issue at local and government levels. It is important to involve people in solutions and opportunities in line with our social justice responsibilities. Practically, we hope the north road will be open by Christmas and look forward to welcoming two religious sisters who coming to support our community.”


Danny Smith.

Danny Smith, Kaikōura District Council; Local Recovery Manager

“It’s been a huge journey. We set out to get the community together to lead our own recovery and have formed workstreams to do this alongside the District Council and Ministry of Civil Defence. All people wanted to do was to be listened to, talked to and be kept together.

The isolation has been a massive problem for the town and rural sector. Support is still ongoing and this is very important for the district. The visit from Cardinal John Dew, Fr Pat McIndoe being here from the beginning and other pastoral and parish support has helped restore people’s faith.

We are very much up and running and looking to the future positively.”


Jaana Kahu and Rachel Manawatu from Te Tai o Marokura.

Jaana Kahu, Te Tai O Marokura Social Services; Social Worker

“There has been a lot of whānau work and support going on within the community. It’s been awesome to have had support from Challenge 2000 and Catholic Social Services. We still have a lot of work to do around supporting families with insurance. A lot of locals are being displaced because of the accommodation shortage.

Another issue is not having access to the sea. We are not allowed to take paua, shellfish and seaweed. A ban (rahui) is in place which prevents our traditional gathering of kai – we are all trying to adjust to a ‘new normal’ here.”


Kevin Lowe and Fr John Pearce, parish priest.

Kevin Lowe, Chair Parish Council; Farmer

“Here in Ward and Seddon, we are a resilient lot but many of us were traumatised. Our farming community has benefited from coming together to support each other through different events. One of these events was a ‘Quakebusters’ get together, funded by Catholic communities from as far away as Auckland and Australia. This has helped reinforce the positive and strong communal spirit within all our communities and has brought back confidence to a lot of people.”


Rachael Westenra.

Rachael Westenra, Seddon; Parish Nurse

“We are still dealing with many issues but have a strong sense of survival. We are trying to grow the community and to give people a sense of empowerment. Many of our community centres, like the Plunket rooms, the hall and the bowling green are unuseable. On the positive side, the quake was a wonderful shake up to bring us all together. We have counselling services available and outreach from other church communities and the Council. We are looking at working towards a united vision for everyone.”


Challenge 2000 holiday programme with local youth.

Kaikōura coastline.

Stewardship committee meeting, Sacred Heart, Kaikōura.

Sacred Heart Church, Kaikōura.

Memorial Hall, Ward – building closed.

Main highway closed from Ward southwards.

Photos: Annette Scullion