By Kloe Palmer
A year on from the earthquake which devastated Christchurch's CBD around half the buildings listed for demolition have been torn down. The cordons are still in place and the area inside is barely recognisable, but for the first time in months last week 3 News cameras were allowed into the redzone to take a look at progress on the biggest demolition job this country has ever seen. Around 600 buildings are now down, but there are still over 600 to go.
“While sometimes it feels like we haven't made much progress, if you look back at what we have really come from, i mean it's extraordinary where we were on those days and weeks following the 22,” says CERA’s Roger Sutton.
There have been dramatic demolitions and slow and steady deconstructions, two snowfalls which stopped work, countless aftershocks and even All Black Piri Weepu’s hair on a wrecking ball.
Over the past year the priority has been to bring buildings down. Now, that's finally changing.
“In here it's a bit like spring in many ways it's sort of the end of the winter with the demolitions coming to an end on the smaller buildings and a bit of new growth with buildings, I think inside the redzone there's around four or five starting now which is really positive to see,” says CERA’s demolitions general manager Warwick Isaacs.
While Cathedral Square will be off limits for months to come, the public should be allowed back into parts of their city centre from April.
“It certainly won't be a gross cordon, it will be much more localised around buildings or perhaps blocks,” says Mr Isaacs.
To make that a reality, right now each day hundreds of people are in the redzone and work goes on almost continuously.
“There's an awful lot of people here with an awful lot of fancy gear, working really hard to clear these buildings out, we just have to do our best,” says Mr Sutton.
The man in charge of ripping down his own home town is forever positive.
“Demolition in its very nature doesn't uplift a person, but certainly the rebuild does,” says Mr Isaacs.
Now the old broken buildings are starting to be replaced with much stronger new ones. This time next year, who knows what Christchurch's CBD could look like.