Operation Christchurch Quake

UC CEISMIC is honoured to add the New Zealand Defence Force's (NZDF) earthquake material to the archive this week. This collection holds photographs, videos, and articles created by the NZDF during Operation Christchurch Quake.

Operation Christchurch Quake was the NZDF's emergency response to the 22 February 2011 Canterbury Earthquake. To this date, Operation Christchurch Quake is NZDF's largest operation on New Zealand soil, involving over 1700 personnel from the New Zealand Army (NZ Army), Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), 10 RNZAF aircrafts, 77 Unimogs, 47 Pinzgauer light operational vehicles, 28 light armoured vehicles, 4 RNZN ships, and 129 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces.

During Operation Christchurch Quake, the NZ Army, RNZN, and RNZAF banded together to ensure there was support on the sea, in the air, and on the ground. The material in this collection depicts the wide range of tasks each organisation performed in the days after the earthquake.

New Zealand Army

The New Zealand Army responded to the February 2011 earthquake within minutes, due to a large number of defence personnel being in the South Island when the earthquake struck. At the peak of the Defence Force's efforts, they had 1379 personnel on the ground, 77 Unimogs transporting equipment and stores, and 47 Pinzguaer Light Operational vehicles on the move.

Their support ranged from medical, logistical and planning, to engineering tasks, cordon maintenance, and forensic dentistry.

NZDF photographs of the New Zealand Army in action

They also helped to evaluate the risks to occupational health in the central city, and monitor water quality around Christchurch.

Stills from NZDF videos 'The New Zealand Defence Force testing water in Christchurch' (left) and 'Environmental Health Officers monitoring Christchurch's central city after the earthquake' (right)

Royal New Zealand Navy

The RNZN were also able to quickly respond to the 22 February 2011 earthquake, as HMNZS Canterbury was in the port of Lyttelton when the earthquake hit. In early 2011, the ship had been announced the core asset of a joint Australian-New Zealand task force for disaster-relief operations. As a result it was already loaded with much of the vehicles, supplies and personnel needed to respond to the event.

Over the next few days, HMNZS Canterbury provided support to Lyttelton in a multitude of different ways. They set up soup kitchens around the township, serving over 700 meals to local residents. Its sailors also performed security patrols of the town, assessing any other needs that would have to be met, and guarding cordons around damaged buildings. When its supplies ran out, HMNZS Canterbury took an overnight trip to Wellington to resupply.


Articles from Navy Today April 2011

HMNZS Canterbury was later joined by HMNZS Otago and HMNZ Putaki, the first time one ship of each Protector class has been in a New Zealand port together (outside the naval base).

Photograph from Navy Today April 2011

Royal New Zealand Air Force

Within hours of the 22 February 2011 earthquake, the RNZAF drew air power from across its squadrons and units, collecting imagery of the damaged infrastructure around Christchurch, and transporting Urban Search and Rescue and St John's Ambulance personnel to Christchurch.

Using their Hercules C-130 and Boeing 757 aircrafts, the RNZAF created an airbridge between Christchurch and Wellington, evacuating over 4,800 civilians from Christchurch, as well as delivering almost 316,000 kilograms of supplies from Wellington and Auckland.


NZDF photographs of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in action

The RNZAF's fleet of Iroquois helicopters also proved incredibly useful during the days after the earthquake. They were initially used to survey the damage in Christchurch, but later carried engineers and staff from the University of Canterbury to inaccessible areas in order to install seismic sensors and assess water reservoirs.

Still from NZDF video 'The No. 3 Squadron Iroquois helicopters support the operations after the Christchurch earthquake'

The NZDF material showcases not only the NZDF's efforts in Christchurch after the earthquake but also the incredible speed with which NZDF reacts to natural disasters, the wide range of skills and expertises held by the RNZAF, RNZN, and NZ Army, and the personnel's dedication to New Zealand and its people.



Creative Commons License
Images courtesy New Zealand Defence Force, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 New Zealand License.