Former Christchurch Mayor Sir Bob Parker relives 'chaos and terror' of earthquake

Each year on February 22, Sir Bob Parker says he remembers just how much emotion he has tucked up inside from the Christchurch earthquake which claimed 185 lives.

"It certainly comes back standing down here at the stunning memorial," he told The AM Show, on the quake's seventh anniversary.

"Knowing that on that wall are the names of workmates, friends, people you know, loved ones.

"You just recall the chaos and the terror and the uncertainty of that time, and it's not a nice feeling. It's a churning, upsetting feeling."

Sir Bob Parker spoke to The AM Show on the earthquake's seventh anniversary.
Sir Bob Parker spoke to The AM Show on the earthquake's seventh anniversary. Photo credit: The AM Show.

Mayor at the time, Sir Bob said he remembers the day vividly.

"I was having a sandwich up on top of the council building doing a bit of a meeting on the side with my PA at the time and bang, this thing just hit, threw us around.

"[We] got back into the building because we actually thought the building might collapse, we might die in this moment. All that stuff sort of flashes through.

"And there were people that were very, very upset, injured, shattered glass, every office turned upside down.

"I remember looking up across the city from where I was... and just seeing dust coming up and knowing, from what had been an ordinary summer's day, we were walking into something that was just going to be truly terrible.

"And that's what it was. I can't forget that.

"And then you saw the beginning of what all the people in this city did at the time. The incredible bravery, and the selflessness and getting stuck in to helping each other - sometimes at a cost of themselves.

"You'd hear news about people you know. You can't believe what's happening around you. It's just like in 25 seconds we went from a normal day to being in a war zone."

He says it doesn't bear thinking about too much - adding what stands out in his memory now is the immediate response and rebuild effort from both New Zealand and overseas.

"I think it's remarkable what's happening here.

"I don't think we've ever said thank you enough."