Women’s Voices: Recording women’s experiences of the Canterbury earthquakes

Women’s Voices is an oral history project, created by the Christchurch Branch of the National Council of Women of New Zealand. Volunteers interviewed other women about their earthquake experiences and also provided brief profiles that include their own quake stories.

The mass media has often focused on heroic stories of rescue, the comments of decision makers, or the quake ‘victims’. This research generated women’s stories of day-to-day endurance after the quakes and the importance of families, friends, and neighbours at times of crisis. These stories document women’s contributions within workplaces, voluntary organisations and their communities in spite of ongoing emotional and financial stress, disrupted physical environments, trauma, and fear. Women talk about how their lives have changed and their hopes for Christchurch. Every woman has a unique story to tell.

Movers and shakers: Women’s stories from the Christchurch earthquakes
(final report, PDF, 380 pages)

This is a comprehensive report of research into women’s experiences of the Canterbury earthquakes conducted by the National Council of Women of New Zealand (Christchurch Branch) between 2011 and 2014 . It draws on the earthquake stories of 150 women and includes accounts of what happened to them during the quakes as well as their involvement in community action and their health, housing, and insurance challenges. This thematic analysis includes stories about what happened to families, the impact of the quakes on children, and women’s reflections on the rebuilding of their city.

The individual stories of the women who participated in this project are available  in the QuakeStudies digital archive on the UC CEISMIC website. This archive includes information about the project and also the quake stories of those who did the interviews (many of them members of the Christchurch Branch of NCWNZ).

  • Citation: Gordon, L; Sutherland, J; DuPlessis, R and Gibson, H. (2014). Movers and Shakers: Women’s Voices from the Christchurch Earthquakes. Christchurch: National Council of Women
  • Creative Commons: Attribution CC BY
  • Creator: Gordon, L; Sutherland, J; DuPlessis, R and Gibson, H.
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN (CHRISTCHURCH BRANCH)
  • Year: 2014-05-04

From stories to action: The policy implications of the NCWNZ Women’s Voices Project (PDF, 36 pages)

This report highlights the policy implications of research into the earthquake experiences of 150 Christchurch women interviewed for the Women’s Voices Project. It focuses on housing and insurance issues; rebuilding and renewal; the role of communities; and the question of vulnerabilities. The report draws oral history interviews conducted by the Christchurch Branch of the National Council of Women of New Zealand between late 2011 and early 2014 as well as conversations in 2015 with eight key stakeholders in local and central government, district services, and community organisations. It was funded through a Christchurch City Council Community Project Grant. This report was presented to the Council in June 2015 and has been distributed to community organisations in Christchurch.

  • Citation: Gordon, L.; Du Plessis, R.; Sutherland, J.; and Gibson, H. (2015). From Stories to Action: The policy implications of the NCWNZ Women’s Voices Project. Christchurch: National Council of Women
  • Creative Commons: Attribution CC BY
  • Creator: Gordon, L.; Du Plessis, R.; Sutherland, J.; and Gibson, H.
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN (CHRISTCHURCH BRANCH)
  • Year: 2015-09-21

‘The confidence to know I can survive’: resilience and recovery in post-quake Christchurch (PDF, 14 pages)

This paper explores the relevance of terms such as resilience and recovery when analysing earthquake stories recorded for the Women’s Voices/Ngā Reo o Ngā Wahine Project after the sequence of earthquakes and aftershocks in Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city, in 2010–2011. While the media focused on stories of victims, the heroic work of rescue teams, policy, army and firefighters, or the deliberations of national and local politicians, the National Council of Women of New Zealand
wanted to ensure that women’s everyday quake experiences were recorded for posterity. The outcome was an oral history project that documented the stories of women all over the city, both beneficiaries of earthquake support and those active in assisting others. Their narratives illustrate how resilience in the face of natural hazard events, such as this earthquake sequence, requires effort, ingenuity and imagination, but also the activation of multiple actor networks and relevant technologies. These ‘insider stories’ also highlight the ways in which expectations of ‘resilience’ can obscure vulnerability after natural hazard events and the complex and uneven processes associated with ‘recovery’. The relevance of critical reflections on discourses of resilience is explored through attention to the stories of specific women.

  • Citation: R Du Plessis, J Sutherland, L Gordon & H Gibson (2015) ‘The confidence to know I can survive’: resilience and recovery in post-quake Christchurch, Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 10:2, 153-165, DOI: 10.1080/1177083X.2015.1071712 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1177083X.2015.1071712

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Women’s Voices – Ngā Reo O Ngā Wahine was supported by the Christchurch Branch of the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ), National Office NCWNZ, Ōtautahi Māori Women’s Welfare League, PACIFICA, Christchurch. Funding was received from the Christchurch Branch of NCWNZ, Christchurch City Council, Lottery Community Sector Research Fund, University of Canterbury, Z Energy, MDS Law, Canterbury Community Trust, Altrusa International, Kidsfirst, Mary Hobbs and other private donors.