Quake a year on – lost house, business and almost my son


Spare a thought for quake-hit Christchurch-based Queenstown business owner Richard Sinke – in the darkest of years, he’s had blacker days than most. 

The owner of the iconic Dux de Lux bars in Christchurch and Queenstown lost his home and business in the February 22 quake – and recently nearly lost his son Jordan in a brutal alleged assault at a Wakatipu bar. 

“It’s been pretty tough,” Sinke tells Mountain Scene, during his first in-depth interview since Jordan’s Queenstown attack one month ago. 

“If you’d have said 12 months ago, your house will be destroyed, your business gone and your son will be in a coma, I would not have believed it.” 

Jordan, 26, was put into an induced coma for five days after a blow to the head at Subculture on January 21. He had a 10-12cm piece of his skull removed to reduce brain swelling. 

Sinke says he’s deeply hurt about what happened to his son – especially since Jordan, who moved to the resort four years ago, last year took over the Queenstown Dux to revive it after the quakes. 

“The best thing that happened for me last year was Jordan taking over the Dux and running it in Queenstown. It was really building up again this summer and it’s been such a shame to see what’s happened. In a tough year it was great to see him going well in Queenstown.” 

Sinke feared the worst when he got the call to say Jordan was in hospital. 

“First, doctors told us his life was still not safe. Then after a couple of days they said his life was no longer in danger. I remember crying at the first meeting, thinking, ‘How did we get to this?’ After the whole year we’ve had. It was horrible.” 

Miraculously, Jordan – a talented snowboarder, kite boarder, surfer and skateboarder – is expected to recover from his injury and has so far improved dramatically. 

“He’s doing amazing, it’s unbelievable. But it’s going to be a long process. The part of his brain that got hurt is the part that relates to comprehension, speech and memory.” 

Sinke adds: “We don’t know when he’ll be allowed to go back to work. He’s got a huge number of friends in Queenstown who are supporting the business and supporting us.” 

Local bouncer Jonathan Dixon was arrested in relation to Jordan’s assault. He faces one charge of wounding with reckless disregard causing grievous bodily harm and one charge of assaulting Jordan’s friend Thomas Beatson. 

Dixon made headlines last year for releasing CCTV footage of England rugby player Mike Tindall partying with an ex-girlfriend at a local bar. Dixon described the behaviour of Tindall – who’d recently married royal Zara Phillips – as “unbecoming”. 

Despite facing so much adversity, Sinke remains very positive about the future. 

“I’m fortunate in many ways. The glass is half full. 

“Human beings are incredibly resilient. We still wake up and the sun rises and we hear the birds sing, and you think, ‘Life goes on’. 

“You take pleasure in the little things in life. It’s those little things that you need because the big things have gone.”
Sinke opened live music venue and craft beer bar Dux Live in Addington before Christmas and soon hopes to open Dux Dine in Riccarton. He’s still looking for a site to house the Dux brewery. 

“We want to be part of the rebirth of Christchurch.”