BREAKING: Reports come in after damaging NZ earthquake

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The earthquake struck near Christchurch earlier this morning.

A powerful earthquake has struck north of Christchurch in New Zealand, with the effects of the 7.5 magnitude quake felt on the North Island as well. According to early reports two people have died so far and many buildings have been damaged.

Tulaga Aiolupotea, pastor of Addington Seventh-day Adventist Church in Christchurch spoke to Adventist Record this morning about his experience.

Tulaga Aiolupotea with his wife and two eldest daughters.
Tulaga Aiolupotea with his wife and two eldest daughters.

“We are well. We live in [the Christchurch suburb] Redwood, 10-15 mins drive north from the CBD. [The quake] shook our bed, woke us both up… my wife grabbed my 6 month old girl, while I quickly ran and grabbed my two little girls from their room, at the same time trying to feel through the shake—anticipating whether its going to stop anytime soon or get worse. But it continued for a while, about a minute long. My mum who is on holiday with us was carrying my niece out from their room and we just waited in our room, gathered together just waiting for it to stop.

“It was fascinating. The kids kept sleeping, dozing off, wondering why we have gathered. It was quite a shock for us. [We were] more or less scared, anxious really. The sound the house made . . . the walls sounded like it was rubbing against it’s joints, like [the sound] a wooden swing bridge would make. The house swayed side to side… but no damages were made at home… its pretty quake-proof for kids… less stuff on walls… stabled high shelves that will keep itself steady. After the main quake stopped we felt a few after shocks. They were very gradual climactic shakes and fade away very slowly as it would come.

“We could hear sirens from afar [warning] coastal residents who evacuated. We are in a green zone, we did not need to evacuate as we are 15 mins from the east coastal beaches.”

At the time of speaking to Mr Aiolupotea, he had not heard of whether any of his church members or the churches nearby were affected.

Further north, in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, Andre Afamasaga, pastor of Wellington’s Capital Church, shared news footage from his street in the CBD, showing smashed windows and cracks in the street. He posted this early this morning. “As far as I know we are still safe to stay here in the city although many have sought higher ground. The aftershocks have been continuous and apart from that and a few fallen objects, I’m good. However my thoughts are with families, elderly, kids and pets who have experienced far worse.” 

"I quickly ran and grabbed my two little girls from their room."

Mr Afamasaga shared with Adventist Record what he had been doing since the quake:

“Yes church members are safe, I’ve been using our Facebook group pages to stay in touch with church members and share info. I’ve also been texting everyone. There’s some young people and tourists of Adventist background who don’t go to my church who I’ve been staying in touch with. One girl’s pastor in Christchurch texted me to check on his church member who is now Wellington based and thankfully we were already texting. She is at a friend’s house. As far as I know there is no damage to our buildings. Pastors Roger and Jen Lang (Bet Tikun and Lower Hutt Adventist churches) were evacuated from their home for a tsunami warning around 2am. There are hundreds of aftershocks and you get used to them.

The Pacific pastors of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in Wellington met to discuss disability messaging for Pasifika churches in the Wellington region. (L-R) Mr Tameifuna; Andre Afamasaga (Pastor, Capital Church; Associate Youth Pastor, Hutt Valley Samoan Adventist); Toa Lutu (Pastor, Wellington Central; Wellington Tongan); & Joe Tesese (Senior Pastor, Wellington Samoan; Hutt Valley Samoan).
The Pacific pastors of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in Wellington met to discuss disability messaging for Pasifika churches in the Wellington region. (L-R) Mr Tameifuna; Andre Afamasaga (Pastor, Capital Church; Associate Youth Pastor, Hutt Valley Samoan Adventist); Toa Lutu (Pastor, Wellington Central; Wellington Tongan); & Joe Tesese (Senior Pastor, Wellington Samoan; Hutt Valley Samoan).

“For others it was business as usual. My Pacific ministerial colleagues, Pastors Joe Tesese and Toa Lutu and I had a meeting with another Adventist, Ben Tameifuna, Senior Project Coordinator/Lead for Disabilities at Le Va, a health NGO, who had flown in from Auckland to discuss disability awareness raising for Adventist churches in the lower North Island. Afterwards, the Pastors resumed home visits and calls as per their normal working days. Capital Church member, Shalleen Hern is the Bureau Chief for TVNZ in Central NZ who has been managing the Wellington newsroom, from immediately after the earthquake hit and will sign off after the 6pm news goes live tonight. Another one of my church members BJ, a Building Maintenance Manager has been checking buildings all morning and other members are working from libraries and resuming their responsibilities as carers at Elderly Care homes.

“Some senior high school students still had to sit national exams despite a broken and unnerving sleep for those who were lucky to get any shuteye, as well as having to experience ongoing aftershocks during exams. Storms are now expected to hit around 6pm and continue till midday Tuesday.”

Updates to come.

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