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New Zealand in mourning

25th November 2010 by Andrew Matheson, | 6 Comments

New Zealand is grieving.  The world has been watching while a tragedy unfolded at a coal mine in the South Island of New Zealand.   Families and friends of the 29 workers trapped underground waited, and hoped.

Sadly that hope was extinguished yesterday when another huge explosion ripped through the mine.   Today the whole nation is mourning.  Flags are flying at half mast throughout New Zealand and on New Zealand government buildings around the world, including the embassy and residence in Manila.

I’ve been touched by the messages of sympathy and support that have already started coming into the embassy.  Anyone is welcome to come to the embassy to sign our condolence book.

A tragedy like this shows that the world is a small place after all.  Other countries did not hesitate to provide assistance for the rescue effort.  Sadly families and friends are grieving in other countries too — in Australia, the UK and South Africa, where in total five of the lost miners hailed from.

There is a community grieving in the Philippines too as the wife of one of the miners, Richard Holling, is from this country.  I’ve blogged before about the growing links between our two countries — something we celebrate, but sadly also something that is demonstrated by tragic events such as this.

A disaster this huge has an enormous impact on a small country.  But as the Prime Minister John Key said yesterday:

“At this time of national pain, let us not lose sight of what truly makes New Zealand great.  We are a tough and resilient country.   We care deeply for our fellow countrymen and women.  We are a series of communities knitted together by a set of values and principles that have guided us together through good times and bad.

“It is this spirit that will see us through.”

6 Responses to “New Zealand in mourning”

  1. John Casey John Casey says:

    On a personal basis and on behalf of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, I would like to extend condolensces to the families of all the miners, to the community and the people of NZ, to the families of Australian, British and South African miners who also perished.
    This is a tragedy of immense proportion in particular to NZ but also to the community of miners anywhere.
    Mining is a dangerous occupation. What more can we do to improve safety and security of miners and their families’ livelihood.

  2. Gabriel (Gabby) Lopez Gabriel (Gabby) Lopez says:

    Dear Ambassador and Kiwi Kaibigans

    Last night, when the loss of lives became more evident, I tuned in to Radio NZ International to catch updates about the tragedy. I also offered my prayers for the happy repose of the departed miners and for strength and courage for their bereaved families and friends. I also emailed my Kiwi friends to express my sadness and condolences and prayers for the immediate recovery of the trapped miners.

    Godbless and peace,
    Gabby Lopez
    Quezon City, 25 Nov. 2010

  3. Rod Smith, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines says:

    To all our friends in New Zealand, and especially to the families of the miners who died in this terrible accident, we extend our most heartfelt condolences. The loss of 29 lives is a huge tragedy anywhere, the more so in a small and tight-knit community like Greymouth. We also know, as Prime Minister Key has movingly said, that Kiwi resilience and spirit will shine through.

  4. Andrew Matheson says:

    Rod, thank you very much for your kind words.

    We in New Zealand also extend our deep sympathy to the families and friends of the two Australians who perished in this disaster. Australia was very quick to offer and provide help in the form of equipment, personnel and expertise to assist with the response to the first explosion. This is in the spirit of longstanding friendship and solidarity between our countries.

    We are touched that flags are flying at half mast today in so many towns and cities in Australia — including on the Anzac Bridge in Sydney, itself a symbol of the close bonds between Australia and New Zealand.


  5. Mark Macdonald Mark Macdonald says:

    As a New Zealander working overseas a tragedy of this nature reminds us of a sense of belonging and support for the close community and especially families of the miners. Although the outcome was not how we would have hoped and prayed, the strength support and action of those concerned typifies the New Zealand spirit of which I am proud to be part of. My sympathies to families of all those both NZers and others who were tragically killed

  6. Andrew Matheson says:

    John, Gabby and Mark

    Thank you for your comments. The support of New Zealanders and friends of New Zealand around the world is much appreciated.


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