A new life in Amberley

It was to be their own slice of paradise. When Kathryn Jackson and husband Andy bought their Brooklands home just north of Christchurch, they hadn’t just bought a home, they had bought into a neighbourhood. 

“We had a beautiful community in Brooklands. It was a real village feel,” remembers Kathryn.

But when the earthquakes hit, Kathryn and Andy's home was destroyed, their land red-zoned and they had to move, not just out of their house but out of their community. Both of their workplace offices were lost too.

Pregnant with their first child, the pair bought some land in Amberley, 40 km north of Christchurch, to start a new life there. However, their tribulations didn’t stop. A deposit for a sleep-out on the land vanished when the company went belly-up. They didn’t know anyone in the North Canterbury village at the time. The Jacksons had every reason to despair but Kathryn was adamant she was going to come out stronger.

“You need to be emotionally honest, connect with others, take care of yourself and keep learning. If you are friendly and hopeful, people will want to help you.”

Even though Kathryn had lost her office, she kept in touch with the people she had been working with. In her HR work, she developed knowledge about supporting organisations and people helping others become more resilient. And even before they built their house, Kathryn made a conscious effort to get to know people in Amberley.

“As soon as we bought the land, I joined the ante-natal classes there, despite a 30 minute drive to get there.”

When they moved to their new neighbourhood, Kathryn, a keen horsewoman, joined adult riding clubs and other local activities. The pair organise regular catch ups at their place with neighbours, and both Kathryn and Andy got involved in the local school even before their son enrolled.

“We’ve made so many friends through the local school. And we know most of the shop owners in Amberley because we love to support them - it makes me feel more grounded. I feel part of something bigger.”

The smile in her eyes says it all when talking about her new community. The Jacksons are very much at home in Amberley.

“It’s all about the connections you make through the journey.”