'I'm just connected to it' - former red zoner still tends garden seven years after quake

A Christchurch woman is still tending her garden long after the Crown took ownership of her home in the residential red zone.

Diana Madgin is refusing to let her garden turn to weed, despite it sitting in the city's red zone. Source: Seven Sharp

On the seventh anniversary of the February 22 earthquake, Seven Sharp reported that Di Madgin has weeded the garden of the quarter acre property on River Road since 1975.

"In my heart, in my thinking, this is still my turangawaewae. This is my place," said Di, sitting in the garden.

But seven years ago, the land she and husband Bill lived on broke their home, their street and their community when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck.

"Then eventually this was red zoned and we had to get out," Di said.

Still she and Bill continue to come back to the garden, even though the house is gone, Di feeling an obligation to look after the garden, but not quite knowing why.

"This land doesn't belong to me but in my heart, a feeling that if I was to leave the grief would be too hard to bear. So in my heart I'm just connected to it and I look after it. I think I always will," she said, becoming emotional.

Now others come to the site too, to enjoy what is the only full garden left in a red zone of some 5500 properties.

Each of the properties has their own history and that's something both Di and Evan Smith of the Avon-Otakaro Network would like to see preserved.

"It's not about real estate. It's about peoples' lives and all the memories that lie there,"  said Mr Smith, who lived in the red zone area too.

The Avon-Otakaro Network is a group that wants to create a multi-purpose river park and ecological reserve, without buildings, in the residential red zone.