Sur­vivor finds refuge on dairy farm

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By CHRIS GARD­NER Waikato Times chris.gard­ner@waika­to­times.co.nz

Gil­lian Eras­mus’s Christchurch house was trashed by last week’s quake but she has found a wel­com­ing home in Mata­mata.

Mrs Eras­mus, 80, is be­ing cared for by Waikato Fed­er­ated Farm­ers pres­i­dent Stew Wadey and his wife Mar­garet at their Mata­mata dairy farm.

Mr Wadey, who men­tored Mrs Eras­mus’s son Gwynn when he was a farm cadet on his Toko­roa farm decades ago, in­vited her to stay with them when he heard her brick home was in dan­ger of top­pling.

‘‘It’s so peace­ful here,’’ Mrs Eras­mus, who was on a tramp­ing trip with the Di­a­mond Har­bour Ram­blers in Dunedin when the quake hit, said. ‘‘Ste­wart and Mar­garet are so lov­ing and car­ing.’’

Mrs Eras­mus, whose daugh­ter is a nurse at Christchurch Hos­pi­tal, spent hours try­ing to con­tact her af­ter the quake.

‘‘She was not able to ring me for quite some time as she worked right through un­til the next morn­ing. When even­tu­ally she found time to stop by my place she could not be­lieve what it was like. Ev­ery­thing had fallen out of the cup­boards and ev­ery­thing was bro­ken.’’

The af­ter­shocks, since Septem­ber, have had Mrs Eras­mus liv­ing on edge.

‘‘You are just wait­ing for the next af­ter­shock all the time. The last six months has been like that,’’ Mrs Eras­mus said.

Mrs Eras­mus and her late hus­band John moved to Can­ter­bury in 1997 from the Waikato and she was wid­owed nearly three years ago.

The Wadeys have told Mrs Eras­mus she can stay with them as long as she needs to, which could be some time as the Earth­quake Com­mis­sion was still to visit her Cash­mere home fol­low­ing dam­age caused by the Septem­ber quake.

Be­fore fly­ing up from the South Is­land this week, Mrs Eras­mus checked her home, which had sus­tained cracks in the garage floor and paving in Septem­ber.

‘‘A lot of the brick fas­cia was loose, my daugh­ter was wor­ried they would fall down in an af­ter­shock,’’ she said.

‘‘There was one house on the cor­ner of our road which was an art deco style house, con­demned af­ter the first quake, wait­ing to be de­mol­ished. This lat­est quake has done the job.’’

The Wadeys are just two of hun­dreds of ru­ral peo­ple ral­ly­ing to help the peo­ple of Can­ter­bury, earn­ing the nick­name, the Farmy Army.

Mr Wadey said 10 Waikato farm­ers had vol­un­teered to lend a hand in Christchurch and were await­ing a call to arms.

Gil­lian Eras­mus and Mar­garet Wadey chat over a cuppa. Photo: KA­T­RINA LINTONBON.

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