Book Review: Surviving 7.8 – New Zealanders respond to the earthquakes of November 2016, by Phil Pennington

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_surviving_7pt8.jpgLast year’s Kaikoura earthquake was one of the most powerful we’ve experienced in recent years, and there have been a few startlers since Christchurch 2011. But it’s an environment we choose to live in because New Zealand is wonderful, and New Zealand is home.

Each major earthquake we have, we learn more about how to react and what to do, but deep down we know we may never be sufficiently prepared for the aftermath of a really big earthquake.

What we can do is continue to learn from the earthquakes we have experienced, study how the days after play out, what’s important and what’s not, and what we need to stay safe and be there for one another. Being brought to think about this is one of the main reasons I enjoyed reading this book.

Surviving 7.8 is Radio New Zealand (RNZ) journalist Phil Pennington’s account of the immediate aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake. As one of the first people on the ground in Wellington, then in Kaikoura, Phil shares a fascinating account of the results of a complex earthquake.

Phil walked the dark streets of Wellington shortly after midnight on the 14th of November, reporting live as he witnessed the glass littering the streets and confused and upset people milling outside apartment buildings. The RNZ team found helicopter transport to Kaikoura, only to come across empty main streets, land ripped apart, giant slips cutting off main highways and every road out of Kaikoura rendered impassable by boulders and deep fissures.

Phil found the heart of the town with the people gathered together in local marae and open domains, he talked with many of the city’s inhabitants too shaken to return to their homes. Surviving 7.8 covers many interesting personal accounts of the earthquake and there are plenty of heart-warming stories of people who stepped up and helped with food, water, transport and care.

The book isn’t a definitive study of the Kaikoura earthquake, it’s an excellent account from Radio New Zealand journalist who found himself telling the stories of the people affected to the nation and the world they were cut off from. Surviving 7.8 is a very interesting read, and well-recommended.

Reviewed by Amie Lightbourne

Surviving 7.8 – New Zealanders respond to the earthquakes of November 2016
by Phil Pennington
Published by HarperCollins NZ
ISBN 9781775541103