Gokal Krishnan is a graduate engineer who came from India to do graduate work in engineering at Canterbury University. He is now working on the rebuild.
Buildings have always fascinated me. I can trace this back to my childhood when I would watch my grandfather, who was an architect, at work. He would take me into his office and I would see his drawings being transformed into models and then actual buildings. Having the power to create something beautiful from scratch has always filled me with a sense of awe. This passion coupled with the pace of industrialisation in India — factories, bridges and high rise buildings popping up on every corner — made studying civil engineering at university an obvious choice. I realised that by working in construction management I could help to ensure that the green buildings I had designed would be built in an environmentally friendly way. The next question was, where would I study? Christchurch really appealed to me as studying and working in a city undergoing a complete rebuild represents a huge number of opportunities. Not only the chance to develop my career but to develop as a person. It was a completely fresh start for me but I knew there was no better place to start afresh than a city that was rebuilding itself from the ground up. In New Zealand there are opportunities to apply the knowledge you learn through your studies and to work whilst you study, this is very different to the approach in India. I worked part time as structural engineer for Urban Structural Services Ltd whilst I was studying. The people I met through my work have played a crucial role in getting to know the culture and settling into Christchurch. Working full time is definitely different to working part time. I have more responsibilities and deadlines to meet now. But the Kiwis have a great sense of work life balance. I love the people here, who are all fitness fanatics. I now go snow-boarding and trekking regularly as well as playing cricket. Exciting things are happening throughout the city. There is a real sense of community and there are cultural celebrations of all different origins happening all the time like Holi back in March and the Diwali festival of light on Saturday. The earthquake which struck Christchurch on February 22, 2011, ground the city to a halt and caused widespread damage across Christchurch. But out of this destruction has come regeneration and opportunity. The people of Christchurch are so resilient. They have bounced back and welcomed those helping them to rebuild their city with open arms.