Monday, March 21, 2011

Ngaio Marsh curator okay after earthquake;
Ngaio Marsh House suffers some ill effects.

Stamp of Marsh
issued by NZ
in 1989
I'm relieved to report that Bruce Harding, curator of the Ngaio Marsh House in New Zealand where the MWA Grand Master spent 77 years of her life, is okay after the February 22 earthquake. Harding reports that "the hills area (near Ngaio's house) got a whack and 5 brick homes in a lane below us are condemned for demolition." Harding also is a research associate in the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. The university community was seriously affected by the quake; several buildings have been damaged and additional staff have been moved into Harding's research center, making for some tight quarters. Computer access and server issues are two of the continuing problems at the university.

Ngaio Marsh House
The Marsh House itself is sound, although some items in the house have been damaged. Writes Margaret Sweet, chair of the Friends of Ngaio Marsh House:
After the September [2010] quake there was a broken sewer pipe in the garden in front of the House and the front concrete steps had come away from the building. This time the interior of the fireplace and chimney in the diningroom has come down and the bricks have tumbled out onto the floor. On the kitchen side of the chimney where once there was a coal range there are signs of some movement. . . .
The damage has been mostly to contents. Both times [referring to the Sept 2010 and Feb 2011 earthquakes] books have spilled out of shelves . . . Ngaio's collection of Venetian glass has mostly now been smashed. . . . One or two valuable decorative plates and vases have broken and many glasses and china cups and saucers in the kitchen have smashed. . . . The marble top of the lovely old dresser in the Longroom is badly broken. Amazingly the wine glasses on the table in the dining room which is always set up for a festive Christmas meal are all sitting demurely in place!
Sweet notes that because Ngaio Marsh House is classified as a commercial property, it is not eligible for redress services from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission. The inaugural Ngaio Marsh Memorial Lecture by Elric Hooper, scheduled for April 17, has been postponed.

Writes Harding, "So much of our daily life is now in upheaval. Roads buckled and traffic is slow . . . .But compared to the inconceivable horrors of northern Japan we are OK."

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