12 May 2019

Word Christchurch Festival 2018: A family memoir jolted into being by the 2011 Christchurch earthquake

From Writers and Readers Festivals
Chessie Henry (centre) with her mum, Esther, and father, Chris.

Chessie Henry (centre) with her mum, Esther, and father, Chris. Photo: Supplied

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Photo: Victoria University Press

The central event of Chessie Henry’s insightful family memoir, We Can Make a Life, is the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Chessie’s father Chris, a Kaikōura-based doctor, crawled into makeshift tunnels in the collapsed CTV building to rescue the living and look for the dead.

In her book, Chessie interviews her father, considers the psychological cost of heroism and the meaning of home.

Chessie and Chris Henry talk with the University of Canterbury's Bronwyn Hayward in this highlight from the 2018 Christchurch Word Festival.

Chessie Henry

Chessie Henry Photo: Hazel Redmond

About the author

Chessie Henry was born in 1992 and grew up in Christchurch and Kaikoura. Her personal essays have been published in The Spinoff and The Wireless. The memoir, We Can Make A Life, is her first book.

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Photo: Word Christchurch

This audio was recorded in partnership with 2018 Word Christchurch Festival. Its next season runs in May 2019, and the full festival returns in 2020.