While all other media were kept outside the red zone when the earthquake hit Christchurch on February 22, 2011, one camera had the extraordinary opportunity to document from inside the cordoned off area. TV ONE’s local documentary, 5 Days In The Red Zone follows the Rural Drink Drive Team from Alexandra, who were called into Christchurch after the earthquake.
Camerawoman Pip Walls was with the Rural Drink Drive team, filming for a new TV2 police programme. When the squad were called to Christchurch, the decision was made for her to go with them and to film whatever she could.
Sergeant Bruce Martin and two of his constables, Patrick Greaney and Mark Wellstead are at the centre of this story of the team’s five day deployment. What emerges is a unique view of the disaster – of the new population of Christchurch’s central city: rescue crews, emergency services and military.
Walls had been filming with the squad on and off for four months, in which time she had built up a strong relationship of trust. The result is extraordinarily candid, behind-the-scenes access inside the operation – from late night debriefs in motel rooms to coverage of search and rescue within the red zone.
They occupy a broken world that once belonged to the thousands who worked and lived in the central city. These rural officers hoped they would be saving lives and rescuing people, but what they discover is an eerie place full of strangeness, sadness, bizarre moments and the challenge of dealing with the dead, not the living.
5 Days In The Red Zone, TV One Wednesday 25 May, 9.30pm