The reality of what the earthquakes did to Christchurch hit Irish carpenter John McAnespie harder than it did most workers who've come to help with our city's rebuild.
The 30-year-old, who has been working here since November 2011 when he arrived with his partner Maggie, hails from Truagh in County Monaghan.
One of the victims of February 22 was Irishman Owen McKenna, who was from the same part of the county. Mr McKenna died when a building collapsed on his car on the Manchester St-Lichfield St corner.
"I knew his family, his brothers and that,'' said Mr McAnespie. "He was married to a Kiwi.''
The local GAA (Gaelic sports) club which Mr McAnespie is closely involved with named itself the Christchurch McKenna's GAA Club in memory of Mr McKenna.
Two years after the disaster, Mr McAnespie is one of hundreds of Irish men and women working on the rebuild who are contributing to the fabric of life in their temporary home.
His partner had college friends from Ireland here before the earthquakes, and he heard about the opportunities for repair work.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying it here,'' he said. "I love the outdoors and taking in walking and snowboarding. We've just done a two-day trek around Akaroa, and we did last year'sThe Star City2Surf.''
People in New Zealand had a sense of humour quite like the Irish, he said. "The Irish and Kiwis click quite well.''
He works for HDF Builders, a father and son company, doing residential earthquake repairs and residential new building.
The pay has been the big incentive drawing Irish here. He estimates it's almost double what he'd get at home, where there was little work anyway.
The construction industry in Ireland had collapsed, and many young men coming out of school and tradesmen had gone to Australia and Canada as well as here, he said.
He misses family most - "the Irish are quite family orientated'' - but is looking forward to his first trip back home for a friend's wedding next month.
Mr McAnespie is a keen member of the GAA club and plays Gaelic football and hurling, and is one of the coaches for the club's women's Gaelic football team which is playing a series of national league matches against the Auckland and Wellington Gaelic football teams.
While most of the female players are Irish, there were four or so Kiwis, he said. "They've adjusted really well. They've got hand-eye co-ordination from netball and rugby.''
With no shortage of work ahead for a carpenter in Christchurch and right at home with his partner in the Kiwi lifestyle, he admits he's starting to get interested in the possibility of permanent residency eventually.
Another Irishman helping with the rebuild, 25-year-old painter Edmund Cullinane, has been here 10 months.
From Tullogher, County Kilkenny, he had no work at home and followed up on-line advertising for jobs here. "And I had a few mates here already,'' he said.
He works for Pegasus Roof Coating, mainly on earthquake-damaged homes around Dallington and New Brighton.
Like Mr McAnespie, he said being separated from family is the hardest part about working here, and is looking forward to a holiday back in Ireland at Christmas.
And the GAA club is also a big part of his life - he plays hurling or football several nights a week.
He hopes to work in Christchurch for at least another couple of years. "But I would like to go home in a few years. I hope things pick up back home,'' he said.