|25 February 2011
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STANDING ALONGSIDE CANTABRIANS
My thoughts and sympathies are with everyone who’s been affected by Tuesday’s earthquake, especially those who have lost loved ones. Watch or read my speech here
I’ve been down to Christchurch a few times since the earthquake. When I walked through the central city, it felt surreal. It was eerily quiet but as you looked around you knew that a real catastrophe had taken place.
It’s a disaster that has affected all New Zealanders in some way.
I’ve been heartbroken by stories of great loss and pain, and shocked by the extent of the damage. But I’ve also been encouraged by the survivor spirit of Cantabrians. It’s that spirit that I believe will get you through.
In Lyttleton, I saw a community that was devastated but rallying together in its time of greatest need. I met a woman who was cooking almost enough food to feed an army. Locals were bringing food from their freezers to her, she was cooking it, and they were sharing it with all who needed something to eat.
I met international tourists in Hagley Park who had fled from where they were at the time of the earthquake, leaving behind all their possessions including passports. They told me they were amazed by how well Cantabrians had looked after them and helped them.
That extraordinary spirit makes me proud to be a New Zealander.
This earthquake marks the beginning of a long and challenging journey for Christchurch. But New Zealanders stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you face this journey, and the Government is behind you 100 per cent of the way.
I want to acknowledge the huge amount of work being put in by so many people, particularly the hundreds of search and rescue workers, emergency personnel, and medical professionals.
Though lost lives will never be replaced, and though Christchurch will never look the same, we will help Cantabrians rebuild their lives.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE SO FAR
Our immediate focus is on search and rescue. Here’s some of what the government has done so far:
HOW YOU CAN HELP
I’d like to thank the thousands of New Zealanders, and people around the world, who are donating money and offering to help Christchurch.
If you would like to help, you could contact the Red Cross (www.redcross.org.nz), the Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.org.nz) or the Rotary New Zealand World Community Service (www.rnzwcs.org). Many banks are also offering ways to help, so contact your bank to find out more.
All other offers of help from the public should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view photos on Flickr of my visits to Canterbury this week.
Thanks John for these notes, you presence here in Christchurch is, I am sure greatly appreciated. For the first time in a long time they felt for real again.
- Christchurch earthquake: updates and useful links (inside-digital.blog.lonelyplanet.com)
- Christchurch quake: How you can help – New Zealand Herald (news.google.com)
- Christchurch earthquake: Britons advised against ‘non-essential’ travel (telegraph.co.uk)
- It’s not only words (homepaddock.wordpress.com)
- Britons urged to check Christchurch travel plans (telegraph.co.uk)
- Christchurch earthquake death toll rises with hundreds still missing – The Guardian (news.google.com)
- New Zealand, Christchurch earthquake: emergency water and sanitation measures (sanitationupdates.wordpress.com)
- Christchurch earthquake: ‘My home town has been devastated’ (independent.co.uk)