Long before disputes over earthquake-damaged churches hit headlines, a rural Canterbury parish lost its home.
The historic St John’s Anglican church in Hororata, about 60km from Christchurch, suffered extensive damage in the magnitude-7.1 earthquake on September 4, 2010.
The area was badly hit, with the local pub, community hall, cafe and many homes affected.
Two years on, St John’s remains boarded up and the damaged stones numbered and stacked in the church grounds.
The Rev Jenni Carter says the church will be restored but the timeframe is not known. She is philosophical about the lack of progress.
‘‘The church is still standing as a symbol of all that ever was and it reminds us that we’re not finished the work yet. We were broken and we’ve been put back together and we carry on.’’
Church services have resumed in the nearby wooden church, known as the first church.
Although much smaller, the space was ‘‘very adequate’’, Jenni says.
The pub is expected to reopen this month as a backpackers. Consents for the community centre rebuild have been submitted, the new Te Waiora retreat centre reopened during the weekend and the Highland Games will be staged again in November.
‘‘We’re a buzzing community. We just get on and keep living,’’ she said.
However, Jenni Carter’s memories of the quake were fresh.
The noise that woke her at 4.35am was ‘‘absolutely unreal’’, she said.
‘‘Like hundreds of concrete trucks pouring out their loads of shingle in one go.
‘‘It was absolutely horrendous. . . you’ll never forget it. Sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday and sometimes it feels like it was a decade ago.’’
Jenni felt, at times, Hororata had been forgotten but said the February quake was ‘‘so enormous and so devastating, it couldn’t have been any other way’’.
She was confident restoring St John’s was an ‘‘opportunity’’.
‘‘When something’s broken, it gives you the chance to rebuild it a different way and connect the people of today with what was yesterday."