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Christchurch preschool embraces post-quake life in the red zone

Ten years on from the Christchurch earthquake, a small preschool there is enjoying an enviable existence.

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Casa Dei Bambini used to have traffic and buildings around it but now has greenspace and tranquillity. Source: Seven Sharp

The school is in the city's red zone. It used to have neighbours, and traffic, but now it's surrounded by green space and tranquility.

Casa dei Bambini, house for children, is home for very little children. Preschoolers, specifically.

"We are the preschool in a park now," preschool manager Kathleen Gisho told Seven Sharp.

It's a preschool in a prime position.

Once they had neighbours and houses surrounded them, but now they stand alone.

"Sometimes we get one of the teachers to come with her lawnmower and she cuts a track and they do running races," Gisho says.

The little gatherers go on regular fruit-finding missions, collecting lemons, oranges, pears and more.

It's a bountiful supply in what was once someone's backyard.

Gisho says they've noticed the birds start coming back, hearing pīwakawaka and korimako singing.

Source: 1 NEWS

It hasn't been an easy path to paradise, dealing with earthquake trauma and uncertainty, liquefaction, leaving layers of silt to clear and a building, which had just been refurbished, needing repairs again.

"Then there was the insurance claim. It was a difficult process and didn't really go our way," Gisho says.

She says it was still more financially viable to stay in the red zone.

Around them, more than 8000 homes and businesses were bulldozed.

For a decade now, loyal families have driven across town to Casa. Others have moved back to suburbs nearby. 

"It's been a long, long road and we feel very blessed that we're still here," head teacher Maree Orland says.

"We've got just this vast park around us and we try to utilise it as much as we can."

This is part of a 1 NEWS series marking a decade since the deadly Christchurch earthquake.