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On February 22, 2011, a devastating earthquake shook Christchurch, killing 185 people. One hundred and fifteen of those people were in the CTV building - a structure that should never have been built.

In the 10 years since the disaster, serious flaws have been exposed in the design, construction and inspection of the CTV building. No-one has been held accountable for those errors.

On the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, MARGARET GORDON and MICHAEL WRIGHT look at how a disaster became mired in controversy and why calls for justice endure today.


You can listen to the podcast directly from this page, or through your favourite podcast app, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or via an RSS feed.

Trailer: Collapse


On February 22, 2011, a devastating earthquake hit Christchurch. Of the 185 people killed, 115 of them were in one building...the CTV building.


Episode 01: The mountain and the cave


Topi Emery and Marion Hilbers were among the 149 people in the CTV building when it collapsed. Their families kept vigil at the site for hours, hoping for a miracle.


Episode 02 available on 13 February

Episode 02: ‘Call me Louis’


Rescuers tunnel into the rubble and find what was left of a school cafeteria with 22 students trapped, dead and alive.


Episode 03 available on 14 February

Episode 03: Need help, need help


Senior Constable Stuart Martindale gets a tap on the shoulder and is handed a phone number. A trapped survivor is calling him from underneath the rubble.


Episode 04 available on 15 February

Episode 04: Boom and bust


The CTV building was born in the 1980s construction boom. It had profound design flaws that were flagged at the time. How did it get built?


Episode 05 available on 16 February

Episode 05: Vagabond


The CTV story descends into controversy and farce: a fake engineer and New Zealand’s biggest homicide investigation.


Episode 06 available on 17 February

Episode 06: Tragedy, travesty


Police announce the results of their investigation. Will anyone be held accountable over 115 deaths?


Anatomy of a tragedy clickicon
Building levels
Collapse causes
Rescue sectors
collapse cause graphic


Paul Rodwell Firefighter. Spent hours in the CTV rubble rescuing survivors.
Stuart Martindale (Huata Arahanga) Former police officer. Spoke to Tamara Cvetanova during rescue attempt.
Yukio Minami Survived eight hours in the rubble of the CTV building.
Alan Reay Principal of the firm that designed the CTV building.
David Harding Engineer who designed the CTV building.
Alec Cvetanov Tried to save his wife, trapped in the CTV rubble.
Graeme Tapper City council engineer. Concerned with CTV design but signed off on it.
Josh Hilbers Watched CTV building collapse with mother, Marion Hilbers, inside.
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The 115


ctv building photo

Pre-quake, the CTV building was a six-level office building on the corner of Madras and Cashel streets in central Christchurch.

ctv building after quake

Dozens of police, firefighters, medics and specialist search crews in action late on February 22, 2011.

ctv building after quake

An aerial shot of the site shows how widespread the devastation is.

king education school japanes students photo

A group of students from Toyama in Japan were in the building when it collapsed. About half did not survive.

ctv building photo by police

A photo taken by police in the aftermath of the disaster.

Civilians and the first police to rescue people in the building

Civilians and the first police on the scene during the early stages of the rescue.

specialist rescue crews on the ctv building

By day-break on February 23, urban search and rescue - specialist rescue crews - had taken charge of the operation.

1980s ctv buidling contruction site

The building that would become CTV during construction in the mid 1980s.

a plaue at the ctv site photo

A plaque at the CTV site, which has become a place for tributes to the victims.

current ctv site photo

The corner of Cashel and Madras streets, where CTV once stood, is now a memorial garden.

an aerial view of the ctv site in 2021

An aerial view of the site as it looks in 2021.

A digger photo

A digger pulls down the lift shaft - the only part of the building to remain standing in the quake.

an aerial view of the ctv site in 2021

An aerial view of the CTV site after much of the rubble has been cleared.

A helicopter with a monsoon bucket in ctv site

A helicopter with a monsoon bucket dowses the fire burning deep in the CTV rubble pile.

Read more


Presented and produced by Michael Wright and Margaret Gordon
Additional reporting, research and creative input Marc Greenhill
Stuff podcast director Adam Dudding
Music Henry Nicol
Sound mix and design Chris Sinclair
Digital designer Aaron Wood
Interactive designer Sungmi Kim
Visual journalists Alden Williams, Joseph Johnson, Chris Skelton, Rosa Woods and John Kirk-Anderson
Digital editor John Hartevelt
Commissioning editors Carol Hirschfeld and Patrick Crewdson
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