LEADING IN DISASTER RECOVERY - NEW ZEALAND RED CROSS

On 22 February 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Canterbury, New Zealand. It left 185 people dead and thousands injured. Over 5 years on and the recovery process is ongoing. 

The New Zealand Red Cross was there at the beginning and continues to be involved today. In 2015, the Red Cross published a pocked guide 'Leading in Disaster Recovery: A companion through the chaos.' The idea was to take the lessons learnt by those in leadership roles, whether official or unofficial, in the recovery process and share them with those who may be in similar, often overwhelming, situations. Along with the stories and advice, the Red Cross wanted to collect images. I worked with over 20 people involved in the disaster recovery process, asking them to think of a way to show their leadership journey in a photo.

The resulting images reflect the diversity of leadership. I spoke to Maan (above and right), who lost his wife when the CTV building collapsed. He wanted his picture to be at the CTV site, where is sometimes goes to remember his wife. I met a disability advocate, a hospital director, a community development worker, a psychologist and many others. I scrambled up hillsides to photograph an uplifting view of home, was guided through a construction site, visited a marae, a café, a park and a university. I met with some people for a few minutes and others for hours. The diversity of the leaders was striking, but one constant stood out: the passion that each one brings to Canterbury’s recovery. 

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For someone who comes from the opposite end of the country and was overseas at the time of the earthquake, the conversations we had were more than just eyeopening; many will stay with me forever.