29 Dec 2016

Camping at home in Kaikōura

6:27 pm on 29 December 2016

Six weeks on from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the nation, things have settled down for most. But while they were planning their Christmas and New Year festivities, Gary Melville was still busy trying to get life back to normal.

RNZ visited him at his yellow-stickered home in Kaikōura just before Christmas.

We initially spoke to Gary just a few days after the quake, when water and power was cut off, leaving him to build a make-shift BBQ from bricks that once made up the façade of his Mt Fyffe Road home.

"It was a great camping story in the beginning, but it's gone on and on for a month and we are just happy to get back to normal really", Mr. Melville said, as he got ready to receive family for Christmas.

"And works starting so that all good, works a good thing too, it normalises you and away you go", he added.

Gary Melville's house was badly damaged in the Kaikoura earthquake. Using bricks from the cladding of his house he built a fire pit to cook on. His much loved dog, Bella, took off for a number of days after the quake which upset the family more than the quake itself.

Gary Melville with family dog Bella, which disappeared for a while after the 14 November quake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Things were looking up, with power and water back on and the return of the family dog 'Bella', whose disappearance after the quake had his wife, Gay, more traumatised than the earthquake itself.

"That was worse than the earthquake for my wife because she really loves the little dog, so that was terrible".

"Three days later the little dog just arrives, comes running into the property barking, like happy, hadn't been away".

Gary Melville's house was badly damaged in the Kaikoura earthquake.

Yellow- stickered: The Melville's earthquake-damaged home. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Hammer in hand and a few bruised thumbs from the DIY creation he's been working on as a temporary home just meters from his actual house, Gary hasn't made many plans for the festivities of Christmas and New Year. But with sons in Blenheim and Cheviot and some living locally he was hoping they could all be together.

"The family, I'm hoping will come round here, even though we are yellow-stickered and that, but everything is kind of working".

"The Family will probably pitch tents and we'll have Christmas early dinner as the wife works through till 3.30pm and we'll all get together, have food and yuk and rave I guess, it'll be good", he added.

Kaikoura man Gary Melville had no power, so he cooked his lamb roast outside.

Involuntary BBQ: Gary Melville cooking lamb roast outside immediately after the quake. Photo: RNZ

Until then, Gary was keeping himself busy building, tidying and fixing what the earthquake shattered, and trying to return to what locals have coined, 'the new normal'.