I’ve posted before about the general response to the Canterbury Earthquake (colloquially renamed #eqnz). After a fairly turbulent day I thought I’d jot down a bit of an ongoing journal as an act of catharsis. It’d be hypocritical of me to do this in an attempt to invite sympathy – I’m not looking for sympathy, empathy or any other type of –pathy from this. I’m aware of just how lightly we’ve all gotten off compared to those in Haiti or Pakistan – rather this is a record of the journey we’re undertaking.

Like a half million or so of my fellow Cantabrians, I was awoken around 4:35am on Saturday by the earth moving beneath me (and for all the wrong reasons). Within a couple of minutes I was online and tweeting like many others. Whether an act of denial or simply my perception of the event, it wasn’t until many hours later that I comprehended that the event, undoubtedly jarring, could actually cause some material damage.

car Around 10am I met my business partner at the building we co-own and occupy in Lichfield Street. At the time we noticed a fair amount of damage to the parapet (hard not to with three crushed cars under parts of it) but were fairly positive that the damage was limited. We even had a chance meeting with an engineer on Sunday that left us feeling that, despite some fairly major damage, we had faired pretty well.


We were feeling confident enough to hire cleaners to tidy up the inside and a team of builders to demolish the remaining parts of the parapet – an act that, if nothing else, got the attention of the National Business Review

A handful of engineers, a council visit and a few hundred aftershocks later and we’ve come to the realisation that our building is likely destined for demolition. As I type we’ve been deemed unsafe – we can enter the building to remove goods but it’s unfit to occupy.

Luckily we have an excellent insurance broker (big ups, as mentioned previously, to Jeremy Bernstein from Crombie Lockwood) and, although nowhere near sufficient to cover our losses, we have a reasonable degree of insurance cover. Again I reiterate that we’re way better off than others who have destroyed homes and businesses and no cover. We’re also lucky that, despite a perception that loss adjusters (the people who work hard to reduce the amounts insurance companies need to pay out on claims) are the spawn of the devil, the broker assigned to us, Aaron Clegg, has so far proven a really decent chap.


Notwithstanding how lucky we are in relation to others – our own personal position is that we have this afternoon had to inform eight or so different businesses that the building they called “home” is no longer habitable and that they have to vacate immediately. Our own businesses C4 Coffee, Diversity Limited and Cactus Climbing are included in this and we’re faced with finding a new factory, office space and a location for a coffee roastery and retail store – all the while worrying what the hell is going to happen with our beautiful century old building.

Just last week we put the finishing touches to a beautiful loft space that was to be home to Trineo Limited – those dreams it seems are dashed.

So there you have it – that’s chapter one. This event will have repercussions beyond comprehension and, as often and unavoidably happens with these events, by next month no one outside of Canterbury will even remember it happened. This record is just to remind ourselves, and yourselves, of what one person is seeing on the ground.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.


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