Survivor finds refuge on dairy farm
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.