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Nz Army Essays

What do you do after two earthquakes hit your city?

[Editor’s note: Matador is participating in this week’s #blog4NZ event, which is intended to raise travelers’ awareness about New Zealand.]

AFTER TWO TIMES in six months, your town shakes. You see buildings fall and rubble in the streets. What do you do next? You do what the people of Christchurch, NZ did. They pulled together as a community to rebuild.

Photos by Elise Rutherford unless otherwise noted.


Remains of the Christchurch cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral, Cathedral Square. Photo by Geof Wilson.


Roads became impassable after the Christchurch earthquake

Roads become impassable.


Fallen Robert Falcon Scott statue

Robert Falcon Scott, the Antarctic explorer can no longer look at the Christchurch he knew.


Finding normalcy

People try to make life as normal as possible.


Volunteers helping to clean up after the Christchurch Earthquake, NZ

Volunteers arrived from everywhere to assist in the clean up.


Worker removing liquefaction after the earthquake

300,000 tonnes of liquefaction needed to be removed from properties. Photo by Ben Spink


More kids lend a helping hand

Everyone wanted to help Christchurch!


Children helping clean up the earthquake damage

Cleaning up after the earthquake. Photo by Jon Sullivan.


BBQ set up for volunteers helping clean up the earthquake damage

Everybody helped everybody, and€“ here was a BBQ set up for passerbys on a main street.


Civil Defence workers from all over the world to help

Here a gang of Civil Defence workers leaves to search another building.


The NZ Royal Navy helping clean up

Royal New Zealand Navy helps out in Lyttelton. Photo by NZ Defence Force.


NZ Army chief delivering meals for service workers

NZ Army Chefs prepare and deliver hot-box meals to emergency service workers helping with the Christchurch Earthquake operation. Photo by NZ Defence Force.


The army provides reassurance

The Army were on every street corner providing reassurance and advice.


Silt removal help needed

Silt Removal Help Request. Photo by nzraw.co.nz.


Children playing around after the Christchurch Earthquake, NZ

Christchurch Earthquake - St Albans. Photo by Ann Devereux.


Damage at the Christchurch University libraries

Christchurch Earthquake - University. Photo by Ann Devereux.


Student volunteers helping clean up

Student volunteers (r) in Barrington Street help cleaning up the silt that has come to the surface in streets, parks and gardens all over Christchurch due to liquefaction after a massive earthquake hit the New Zealand city on 22 February, 2011. Photo taken on 26 February, 2011. Photo by NZRico.


Safe and sound

When families and children are safe, there are no concerns.


Kia Kaha – Be Strong!

Kia Kaha – Be Strong! Two Maori words that are being used to energise the people of Christchurch.

Two New Zealand essayists writing on very different topics – life as an army recruit and the power of scent – are joint winners of the 2017 Landfall Essay Competition.


Laurence Fearnley, of Dunedin, and Alie Benge, of Wellington, will share the $3000 cash prize and both will receive a year’s subscription to Landfall.

The judge of the annual award was outgoing Landfall editor David Eggleton.

Of the 64 entries received, the two finalists’ essays proved especially difficult to separate, though their topics and their strategies are very different, he says.

“Alie Benge’s essay, ‘Shitfight’, which is about raw army recruits in Australia being prepared for a theatre of war in the Middle East, has a physicality and dynamic urgency to it that stopped me in my tracks,” says Eggleton.

Whereas he says Laurence Fearnley in her essay ‘Perfume Counter’ makes scents – at once treasurable, resonant, mysterious – synaesthetic emblems of how we perceive the world.

“Her assured and measured writing brings her surroundings alive with sharp, descriptive clarity.”

Their winning entries will be published in Landfall 234, available later this month. Landfall is published by Otago University Press.

There are five shortlisted essays: ‘Gone Swimming’ by Ingrid Horrocks, ‘Reaching Out for Hear’ by Lynley Edmeades, ‘A Box of Bones’ by Sue Wootton, ‘I Wet My Pants’ by Kate Camp and ‘Trackside’ by Mark Houlahan.

For more information about the Landfall Essay Prize and past winners, go to


The winners

Alie Benge is a writer and copy-editor living in Wellington. She has previously been published in Headland and has work coming out in Takehē and Geometry. She is working on a novel inspired by her childhood in Ethiopia.

Laurence Fearnley lives in Dunedin. In 2016 she was the recipient of the Janet Frame Memorial Award and the NZSA Auckland Museum Grant and she is currently researching and writing a book of essays and stories based on landscape and scent. For the past year she has also been co-editing an anthology of New Zealand mountaineering writing with Paul Hersey. This work has been generously funded by the Friends of the Hocken Collections and will include non-fiction, archival material, fiction and poetry and will be published by Otago University Press in 2018.

Laurence has published ten novels and two books of non-fiction, as well as short stories and essays. She was awarded the Artists to Antarctica fellowship and in 2007 the Robert Burns fellowship at the University of Otago.

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