Tuesday, at 12:51pm, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand fell still -- one week to the minute after this South Island town was violently shaken to its core by a 6.3 earthquake. In the ravaged central business district local clergy, political leaders and rescue teams joined hands around a simple memorial of fallen bricks covered by flowers.
It was a moving moment of reflection even for a non-"Cantabrian" (what folks from the Canterbury region call themselves). Phil Keoghan was invited to join the staff of the Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Office, many of whom had scrambled from their downtown offices last week amid the chaos.
They've regrouped in the nearby home of one of the staffers, a jumble of laptops and cell phone chargers jammed into every available outlet. Like many, they have an important mission in the city's rebuilding effort. A full 9 percent of the New Zealand's GDP comes from tourism. And like New York after 9-11 and New Orleans after Katrina, tourist dollars will be desperately needed to keep the economy afloat.
Today though was time to remember loved ones lost, reflect on upturned lives, and gratitude for the world's outpouring of support. One local couple, a cafe owner who is six months pregnant with her first child and who fled their downtown business as bricks rained down on them, came to realize what's truly important. "We lost our house, we lost our business...none of that matters - because we still have each other," says Kia Kaha.