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Quake stories come to life with new audio walk

22 February 2023

UC’s CEISMIC archive is used in a audio experience to help understand the human impact of the Canterbury earthquakes.


UC Arts Digital Lab manager Kaspar Middendorf and Our Stories Director Kris Herbert test the Earthquake Stories Walk, which was developed to bring the CEISMIC audio archive to life in the central city.

The Earthquake Stories Walk, developed by Our Stories Project Trust, maps memories of the February 22, 2011 earthquake throughout the central city. The 30-minute walk starts at Quake City museum on Durham Street and finishes at the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial. It includes first-person stories from more than 30 people. Visitors will be able to listen to the audio through a smartphone web app.

This project has been developed with the support of the University of Canterbury Arts Digital Lab using content from the CEISMIC archive.

Sustainable Development Goals 11 - Sustainable cities and communities Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 - Sustainable cities and communities

The CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive was created to preserve the knowledge, memories and experiences of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. CEISMIC is led by Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, University of Canterbury (UC) and contains over 150,000 photographs, videos, stories and other material gathered by a consortium of leading New Zealand cultural and educational institutions. This includes hundreds of interviews recorded in the UC Quake Box.

Our Stories Project is a charitable trust with a mission to connect communities through storytelling and make local history accessible. Director Kris Herbert says the project’s aim is to bring the CEISMIC archive to life by connecting the stories to places.

“This project takes the amazing oral history archive held by CEISMIC and literally brings it to the streets where it can be shared and understood in context.”

She says the walk has been designed for both residents and locals. “Since the borders reopened last year, we’ve seen more visitors to our city who are interested in the story of the earthquakes. I hope this will be a tool in the process of healing and in reconciling the pre-quake city with the post-quake city we live in today. For many people, these still exist as separate places in the mind. The thread that connects them is our stories.”

“Our city was shaped by this event and I would like us never to forget the human side to the earthquakes – the trauma but also the resilience and compassion of the people of Ōtautahi Christchurch.”

UC Arts Digital Lab manager Kaspar Middendorf says, “The UC Arts Digital Lab is excited to be a part of this project. We built CEISMIC so that the stories of the Christchurch earthquakes wouldn’t be forgotten, and this audio trail brings those stories to life.”

The Earthquake Stories Walk launched today to coincide with the 12th anniversary of the February 22 earthquake.

The experience is live here:

Kasar Middendorf and Kris Herbert

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