Itís Our Fault

Itís Our Fault

It’s fun writing about the Alpine Fault now because at some point in our lifetime it’s going to be all anyone is talking about. It feels like writing about the Christchurch earthquakes before they actually happened, or writing about how easy it would be to block the Suez Canal before the Ever Given showed us how to do it. But unlike those cases, this disaster is one that’s come with decades of trailers. It’s popped off every 300 years or so, almost like clockwork, for thousands of years. The last one was in 1717. You’ll know it when you feel it, and life in Aotearoa will never be the same. Tick tock.

When this fault ruptures, it’s going to be a national event. It’s going to be generation-defining. It’s going to be something we look back on as a country with remorse, and we’ll celebrate all the first responders and helpful hands that were there to pick up the pieces. That sort of national memory comes up when we have tragedies like plane crashes, murders or other high-profile events, but this one is interesting because we actually KNOW it’s coming. It could happen at any moment, it could happen in ten years. It could happen between this editorial going to the printer and this issue being distributed, which would be kinda iconic, to be honest. We know it’s coming. We know it’s gonna be massive, we know what we’ll have to repair, and we know we have some of the best scientists in the world studying what the physics will be like, what the social effects will be like, and how the economy will respond. We have no reason not to be prepared for it.

Think about that for a moment: how many national disasters had people all over the country warning about it for decades beforehand? And since that’s the case, will our grieving process be the same? What happens when the talking heads tell us “this has shocked us”, over a backdrop of constant scientific warning? Scientists aren’t prone to I-told-you-so’s. People brush it off now as “just another disaster”, but that’s not how we’re gonna talk about it after it happens.

What really gets me going about this subject is that it’s a rare case of KNOWING a disaster is coming. It’s driving down a nighttime highway, swooping around bends with your high beams off, and KNOWING that at some point you’re gonna hit a wall - you just don’t know when. So do you spend the meantime tidying your glovebox, because that’s the only problem you can see right in front of you? Or do you spend it putting on extra seat belts, making sure the passengers are ready, and getting your insurance in order? It’s easy to say “we’ll deal with it when it happens”. Easier said than done. 

Do you have your disaster kit ready? Have you got water in your car? Have you looked at the materials on AF8’s website? Nobody thinks it’s gonna happen to them, until it does. And this one is gonna happen to all of us.

This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2022.
Posted 1:20pm Saturday 24th September 2022 by Fox Meyer.