‘SURVIVING 7.8’ by Phil Pennington

The earthquake of November 14th shook large areas of the country awake. Pennington and his RNZ colleagues travelled to Kaikoura as soon as they could and their first hand experiences make up the body of this work. While there, they experienced the aftershocks, dislocation of the towns’ people and the large number of tourists, and the day-to-day difficulties of simply getting round, getting fed and finding a bed. Surviving 7.8 has a sense of urgency about it. Drawn from daily reports, there is a sharp focus on what was happening and how the disaster was managed. There are reports from Wellington CBD and other areas affected. I was in Wellington, on the sixth floor of a hotel when the earthquake struck. I can only describe the experience as terrifying, as the building moved and contents of the room flew around. Reading the book was very helpful; other people had shared my experience: they thought they would die, be crushed or other eventualities too awful to bring to consciousness. Have I been back to Wellington? Yes. Have I stayed at the same hotel? Yes, but on the first floor with a grab-bag at the ready. Surviving 7.8 is a book people should read. It will raise their awareness of the need to be ready for all and any emergency. People’s experiences were well expressed and the way communities and organisations pulled together to evacuate people, provide food and places to stay were humbling. RNZ did excellent work in keeping the country informed, especially in the early (and cold) hours, and Phil Pennington has done a significant job in recording the earthquake at ground level.


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