Nathan Durkin

Nathan worked shoulder to shoulder with Sam Johnson during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and more recently with Sam in Nepal in May 2015. He also hugged Prince William!, and the student army,

Nathan Durkin looked up from unsuccessfully trying to resuscitate a badly injured person during the Christchurch earthquake and saw a group of school pupils looking on.

The chief executive of the White Elephant Trust - a youth development service - said his first thought was how the trauma would affect them.

"I was pretty concerned that they saw a scene like that and straight away I wondered 'how is this going to affect them now and later?' " It is a common thread in the "not for profit" sector response to the earthquakes recorded in a new book, Holding Hope Together.

Faced with their stories being forgotten, the sector created a book immortalising the contribution of a sector often overlooked.

Six months after the quake, Durkin had a "breakdown".

"Months later, I saw a picture of his face [the person he performed CPR on] for the first time. It was hard," he said.

This year, he will be recruiting for someone to take over his role at the trust.

His goal was to secure a youth facility post-quake. Having achieved this, it was time for a change, Durkin said.

The not for profit sector complements government services, covering areas such as drug and alcohol dependency, mental health, housing, elder welfare, youth development and child care.

The book details how on February 22, 2011, health provider Pacific Trust Canterbury had the first medical personnel at the scene of the collapsed CTV building.

The medical personnel triaged those brought to Latimer Square from the building.

"Some of the staff took off their coats and that, just to give a bit of comfort. So that gives a bit of perspective about the experiences my staff went through," general manager Tony Fakahau said in the book.

Workers put their own post-quake troubles aside and helped their vulnerable clients.

With their offices either destroyed or in the central city cordon, they operated out of cars and had hosted client meetings at a fast food restaurant.

"It is hard to get a client comfortable talking about certain things while people are enjoying a Big Mac," said the book's compiler, Council of Social Services executive officer Sharon Torstonson.

Nathan worked shoulder to shoulder with Sam Johnson during the 2011 earthquake and more recently with Sam in Nepal in May 2015.


Nathan was a great addition to our programme. He was authentic, real and very genuine. He was clearly very nervous but had done considerable preparation and understood us as an audience

I would highly recommend him to an audience interested in youth issues or community mobilisation and development. He is great! - Pathways - whatever it takes 2016