Earthquakes and Butterflies: Otautahi, Christchurch

Author(s): Kathleen Gallagher

NZ History | Christchurch City & Banks Peninsula | NZ Literature

A lyrical, impressionistic novel set amid the series of devastating Christchurch earthquakes beginning on 4th September 2010, through to late 2012.

As buildings crumble, the ground opens, and liquefaction and water spring up out of nowhere, seven folk, their lives in pieces, go on. The outstanding book design, including the 40 black and white full page size photographs on the page facing the Maori Chapter title and English translations, lets you walk alongside the people in and around the broken and recovering city. The narrative allows you inside the experience of the earthquakes and their ongoing repercussions with a delightful intimacy.

The photographic journal, the personal journal and the engaging narrative, work powerfully together creating a journey through time, and in and out of the realm of spirit, to a place of insight and healing.


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"Like an Irish faery tale, this book is unique in that it mixes real people and events with fiction. It is a tapestry of interweaving threads of cosmic, mythic, liminal and actual time. It is a prophetic allegory exploring the mysteries of death and rebirth, destruction and chaos, and addressing the quantam shift in consciousness occurring now." ---Joy Ryan Bloore

"This lyrical, impressionistic narrative is immensely engaging. While buildings shake to pieces and the land breaks open, we are lead on a journey through time, inside the reaches of the world of spirit, to the domain of healing." --John Weir

"This book is a multi-voiced, subtle taonga. The photographic images themselves are superb. The italicised voice mixes the expressionistic and the scientific, shifting from a mood of devastation to one of hope. This is a powerful and important work in the recovery process, a beautiful mahi." --James George

"This is surely one of the finest pieces of writing to come out of the Christchurch earthquakes. Kathleen Gallagher tells, with deep tenderness and compassion, the story and spirit of all that the moving earth laid on the heaving doorsteps of Christchurch." --Jane Hole, Tui Motu Nov. 2015


Kathleen Gallagher is a poet, playwright, writer and filmmaker. She received the NZ Playwrights Award in 1993 and the Sonja Davies Peace Award in 2004 for "Tau Te Mauri Breath of Peace".She has authored 3 collections of poetry, 16 plays and 6 feature films. Her films "Earth Whisperers Papatuanuku", "Water Whisperers Tangaroa" and "Sky Whisperers Ranginui", have played in cinemas throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and in Film Festivals around the world. She has four children. Kathleen lives in Otautahi Christchurch with her husband, Michael Coughlan who is a wood worker, designer and photographer.

General Fields

  • : 9780473332327
  • : Wickcandle Books Film
  • : Wickcandle Books Film
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Kathleen Gallagher
  • : Paperback
  • : Michael Coughlan (Photographer)
  • : 224