Across the other side of the cordoned-off area, a tower of shipping containers the full height of the building seems to be all that is holding the once-magnificent Catholic Cathedral of the Basillica from falling in a heap. We've heard that it is beyond salvation; demolition awaits.
Out in the suburbs, the roads are, to use the Christchurch vernacular, munted. Piles of liquefaction line the roadsides. We saw hundreds of people out helping yesterday. We would have loved to have stayed and helped for longer, but the foot-deep covering of liquefaction sludge had receded a couple of metres by the time we left; our friends might have a back lawn again by late tomorrow. We apologised for having to leave, but our friends were grateful. "Having other people turn up to help lifts our spirits like we can't describe" they told us.
Their story is just one of thousands. They are now waiting to hear if the plan formulated with EQC to salvage their home after the February quake is still feasible; they aren't optimistic given fresh damage from Monday's quakes, but they are still cleaning up the mess. That's because this place is their home, Christchurch is their home town, and they are determined to stay.
Back to the sign hanging off the safety fence at Knox Presbyterian Church; in full, it reads:
Broken, but still beating; people like us are the heart of Christchurch.
We couldn't agree more; there's a depth of courage and resolve down here which is heart-warming and inspiring. Kia kaha Christchurch; our thoughts, prayers and aroha are with you.