Quake belt tale shares mood
Former Matamata man Robbie Te Huna rushed to the aid of his wife Kylie and mother-in-law Dawn, who were caught up in the devastating Christchurch earthquake, after they texted him to say they were both stranded at a mall just outside the central business district.
Te Huna, 37, was in his work vehicle driving in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs when the earthquake struck.
He said he felt his truck shake and thought he’d blown a tyre but, when he saw the road open up before his eyes, powerlines fall, cars crash and houses collapse, he immediately felt concern for his family.
When he arrived at the Eastgate Mall in Linwood, where his wife and mother-in-law were, Mr Te Huna witnessed more disaster, as people fainted and the outer walls crumbled.
He helped carry a security guard out of the rubble on a makeshift stretcher built from pipes pulled from the building. He couldn’t see his wife and mother-in-law so he drove around the building to where the two shaken women, part of the evacuated crowd, waved to him.
Mr Te Huna said the ordeal felt ‘‘surreal’’ but speaking from Christchurch a week later, believed he was lucky his family were all okay.
His wife Kylie has been a bit shaken by the experience and said she was afraid to go back into the central business district.
His two sons, Jack, 8, and Oliver, 5, were at school in Rangiora at the time and he said they were both also a bit shaken up.
The Rangiora district where they live wasn’t immediately affected by the quake but his neighbourhood has rallied around to help sending trays of food as part of the relief efforts.
Meanwhile, his mother-in-law who lives in Ohoka 20 minutes north of Christchurch has returned to the city
Mr Te Huna grew up in the Matamata area and went to Matamata College. He moved to Christchurch where he is manger of Mainland Metals, which is contracted to remove some of the debris from the city. Mr Te Huna felt Christchurch would mend over time, that it was ‘‘shaken but not deterred’’ and he had no plans to leave the region. ‘‘This is home,’’ he said. The ironic thing was he had told his wife before she left not to forget her purse, which she left inside the mall. Her Aunt Vivienne who worked in the mall said had she returned to retrieve it things may have been different.