Fluctuat nec mergitur
On the night before monday the 14th of november at around midnight an earthquake with a magnitude of 7,5 shook New zealand, causing desctruction, casualties and a serious Tsunami-warning. While every incident of this dimensions is a tragedy, New Zealand is no stranger to this kind of catastrophy. In fact, it is shaken by earthquakes (mostly of smaller magnitude) nearly every day and has witnessed some bigger ones aswell.
To understand why New Zealand is so predestined for earthquakes, one must know that, in contrast to Australia, New Zealand is not positioned in the middle of a continental plate, but on the very edge of two big plates. This zone, stretching many thousand kilometres from New Zealand up to the Bering sea and again down to the coast of south america is called the ring of fire, is notorious for its heavy earthquakes and volcanic acitivty.
And so the history of earthquakes since men settled in New Zealand ist long and tragic:
The first well documented earthquake was the Wanganui quake from 1843 with a magnitude of 7.5, the first one of this strenght in recording, and the first one with recorded casualties.
The mother of New Zealand earthquakes occured in 1855 when a tremor of 8.2 on the Richter-scale shook the north island for nearly 50 seconds, causing many deaths.
In recent times, the catastrophic earthquakes from 2011 and 2015 must be mentioned. Even Those events destroyed big parts of christchurch, causing not only deaths but also a economicly decline wich could not be repaired up until today
For us in central europe it is hard to imagine how a country that, at least in my mind, seems so much like one of our neighbours, could be confronted with the constant danger of such catastrophies- imagine a western country like, for example, England, being constantly haunted by devastating natural desasters, but staying as calm and stoic as the people of New Zealand about it. Come to think, that wouldn’t be THAT strange, since New Zealand was settled by…well, I get it, bad example.
The people of New Zealand endure quake after quake, they mourn the deaths, they clean up and rebuild and after that they go back to having all the problems and discussions every other western nation has: environmental protection, the sex life of politicians, cute animals in zoos, how their flag should look like.
It’s curious how a stubborn and unbeding folk like this could end up in one of earth’s most active and everchanging regions. But it should be inspirational to us in today’s times that challenge our societies on so many levels.