Queenstown has become the long-term haven for former All Black star Justin Marshall’s quake-shattered family.
Marshall – now a Sky Sport rugby commentator – brought wife Nicolle and their three children to Queenstown for a week after the February 22 earthquake made their Christchurch home unlivable.
But they were back in Christchurch in March when debris from an aftershock hit their four-year-old, Lucia.
“She got smashed in the eye and needed stitches at hospital,” Marshall says.
“The kids were just screaming, ‘we hate earthquakes, we hate earthquakes, we don’t want to live here anymore’.
“Nicolle and I just thought, ‘what are we still doing here when these kids are obviously frightened’ – that’s what pushed us over the edge.”
Queenstown had been ex-Southlander Marshall’s second option after returning last June from five years playing in Britain – his parents live in Mataura and Nicolle’s brother is local bar owner Mike Burgess.
“We’re certainly not here for a short time, more long term than anything,” Marshall says.
In the past week, Lachlan, 8, and Fletcher, 6, have started at Remarkables Primary and Lucia’s joined Frankton Kindergarten.
The boys have also started rugby training and their dad mightn’t be far behind.
“Once we get settled in, I’ll go down and have a couple of practices with the [Wakatipu Premiers] and hopefully get out and have a game.”
Coach Kelvin Middleton, another former pro rugby player, has warned Marshall that he might start him on the bench.
“I’m happy to do that, it’s not something for a 37-year-old to worry about,” the 81-Test veteran jokes.