Christchurch community spirit is inspiring 20-somethings to stay
IN post-quake Christchurch, young people are staying to appreciate the community spirit.
Catherine Cunneen left for Wellington earlier this year, but quickly returned to her hometown.
She is part of an age group which is showing an increasing preference for Christchurch, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand figures.
They show the Christchurch population aged 20-34 years decreased only 1.4%, or 1200 people, in the past two years.
This was the smallest population loss across the Christchurch age groups, and was beaten only by the 50 and over age group, which increased 2.3%, or 2700 people.
This older increase is partly due to people moving into this age group from younger ages, says the Statistics New Zealand release.
The appeal of Christchurch, Miss Cunneen says, is a community that has changed for the better since the devastating earthquakes.
“I definitely believe that Christchurch is a more family oriented place now.
“My family and a lot of my friend’s families are a lot closer knit now, which I find really lovely, but also neighbourhoods are a lot friendlier now.
“Now even being in the front yard people come and chat and make sure everything is going okay for you. And we even have little block parties now, which is adorable.”
Ms Cunneen’s sister, Suzanne Cunneen, agrees Christchurch is more community-oriented in the wake of the earthquakes.
“You really know who your neighbours are now. They’re not just a familiar face, but a familiar voice.”
The secret, says Ms Cunneen, is the way the city is building itself back up while retaining its community spirit.
“Overall, there a better sense of community – you don’t just walk past someone in trouble anymore, there’s always some way you can help.”
Christchurch’s population had been growing steadily in the years leading up to the earthquake.
Statistics New Zealand figures show Christchurch’s population loss is slowing overall, with a decrease of 1.2%, or 4600 people, in the June 2012 year.
This compares to the June 2011 year, in which the population decreased by 2.4%, or 8900 people.
In 2006 the population was 361,800 and in the four-year period to June 30, 2010, Christchurch’s population was rising at an average annual rate of 1 percent, or 3800 people.
The population had increased by 2011 to 367,700, but by 2012 it was down to 363,200.