Five years from Chch quake, family honours brother's selfless act

Five years from Chch quake, family honours brother's selfless act

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Canterbury earthquake that killed 185 people – an event the region and its residents have been recovering from ever since.

It certainly wasn't the first quake, but it was definitely the most devastating, and for many it was the last straw. Within four months, more than 10,000 people had fled Christchurch.

One of the unforgettable images from the aftermath of the earthquake was of a bleeding and dazed Amy Cooney searching through the rubble for her brother.

Twenty-two-year-old Jamie Gilbert didn't survive and was among the first fatalities to be confirmed.

The peace and tranquillity of Banks Peninsular Urupa couldn't be further from the mayhem of inner-city Christchurch five years ago. It's one of the reasons the family wanted Jamie buried there.

Seeing Amy calling for her brother after the 2011 earthquake struck still feels raw. They had both run from the bar they had been working in, and as the building collapsed on top of them, Jamie used his body to protect her.

She says the act saved her life.

"That was his intention anyway," she says. "He was always very, very giving – the most giving boy. He would have sacrificed anything for anyone."

Jamie's sacrifice is honoured regularly and the maintenance of his grave site is a testament to how much he is still a part of the family.

But despite the heartbreak of losing a sibling and the challenge of living in a broken city, Amy says Christchurch is her home.

There she has a life and a future, near the brother who gave it to her.

Watch the video for the full Newshub report.