Christchurch - our underground story

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:22 pm on 10 April 2017

The author of a children’s book which explains the Christchurch rebuild is fundraising to have more copies printed after the first 1000 sold out in weeks.

Phil Wilkins is part of the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team, charged with repairing and rebuilding the city's roads, bridges, pipes and retaining walls.

Christchurch - Our Underground Story.

Christchurch - Our Underground Story. Photo: Supplied

For the past 18 months he's been developing a way to help people understand how that rebuild happens, and has made a pop-up children's book called Christchurch - Our Underground Story. It's only been on sale since late February and he's already sold out of copies.

Wilkins told RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan everything around us has been touched by engineers.

He says the book was his way of trying to educate the public about the world we live in and develop.

“The horizontal infrastructure, all the stuff that’s buried underneath our feet, all the pipes, retaining walls, the bridges, and all the stuff people tend to take for granted.”

The book covers everything from water supply to waste.

“All the journeys they take, the bridges, the retaining walls and how everything gets built.”

Wilkins says it’s been a long journey to create the book, and his taken him beyond his comfort zone.

“We used get tarred with the brush of complex equations and sort of glasses and orange high visibility wandering around, but hopefully this book will… demist all of that complexity.”

While the book is aimed at children he says it counts for all audiences.

A fellow engineer and friend Martin Coates was responsible for the pictures.

He says the feedback has been awesome, with many children particularly liking the wastewater page.

The book launched in March and all 1000 copies were sold out in about a week.

A local construction company sponsored the book, with all profits going to the South Island Ronald McDonald House.

Wilkins is now fundraising to try and get a reprint of as many more books as possible.

“If we can get up to 2000, 3000, there’s definitely the need out there from local schools and libraries.

“I think there’s a lot that can be learnt from it.”

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