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23rd February 2011 by Andrew Matheson, | 7 Comments

Once again the support of others has been very moving.   As most of the world knows, the New Zealand city of Christchurch has been hit by a severe earthquake — for the second time in only a few months.


Central Christchurch after the September 2010 earthquake (photo: Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management)

Soon after the city got back on its feet from the trauma of last September, an even nastier quake struck.  It was closer to the city, much shallower, and happened during a busy lunch hour on a weekday.  The previous quake resulted in no fatalities partly because it hit in the early hours of the morning when most people were in relative safety at home.

As the scale and horror of the damage unfolded during our day here in Manila, expressions of concern started coming into the embassy.  Just as we experienced after the Pike River mining tragedy, messages of support are very much appreciated at times like this.  New Zealand is such a close-knit community that Kiwis everywhere are grieving over this, and everyone will know someone in Christchurch.

Many of my foreign affairs colleagues were in the city for the New Zealand/US partnership forum, a meeting of top officials, business leaders, and thinkers.  Fortunately they all escaped unscathed.  One American taking part wrote of his “tragic and horrifying” experience.  But Ernie Bower also pointed out that the experience had “created a new fraternity of Kiwi and American leaders who are and will ever remain committed to one another, to the relationship, and to helping the city of Christchurch and its incredible people heal, recover, and get on with living.”

There have been offers of practical assistance from many countries, as New Zealand’s friends around the world rallied in support.  Specialist urban search and rescue teams from several countries are already working beside their Kiwi colleagues.

Sadly, international links have a downside during tragedies such as this.  Many tourists were in town at this time of year, and an English-language school was reported to be in one of the worst-affected buildings.  Anxious Filipinos have been contacting us about relatives who were in Christchurch at the time of the quake, and we’re helping them to get in touch with their loved ones.  Several Filipinos are missing, and our hearts go out to their families and friends.

The embassy’s website has links to information sources about the impact of the quake.  The embassy has opened a condolence book in memory of those who lost their lives or who suffered in this tragegy.  It will be available at the embassy during working hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

7 Responses to “Solidarity”

  1. mr.michael angelo a. yatco mr.michael angelo a. yatco says:

    my prayers for those families affected by the recent earthquake. i was sad when i got the news., had a relative living in Auckland, nz.

  2. Walter Ty Walter Ty says:

    Christchurch, “the most English city outside England”, is totally wrenched by this tragedy. This is the most serious quake with numerous fatalities/casualties since the 03 February 1931 Hawke’s Bay/Napier earthquake. I am surprised by the collapse of the Gould Guinness building so I wonder if New Zealand’s stringent building codes has taken a beating. Christchurch will survive this – Kiwis are a resilient lot.

  3. Melds Benitez Melds Benitez says:

    I am saddened by the news and offered prayer for the victims and their families. I can’t help but be affected that this happened to a country closer to my heart. I sincerely hope for immediate recovery of New Zealand particularly the residents of ChristChurch. There is surely light after the dark.

  4. John Casey John Casey says:

    Andrew, my deepest sympathy to those who have lost and prayers to those who hope, may their hopes be realised. The magnitude of the tragedy is immense and follows the Pike River Mining disaster. How unfortunate that awareness of New Zealand follows such disasters and more than that all of what the country offers not just its beauty and lifestyle but the outgoing nature and the spirit of its people. It was a heartwarming to see the people of Christchurch risking themselves to assist others. That’s what society is all about. Their resilience is very evident.
    Australasia has been battered by natural disasters and we can only anticipate great times ahead.

  5. Bong Banal Bong Banal says:

    My heart goes to the families who lost their love ones and for those who are still in agony searching for their love ones.

    During my last visit a couple of months ago, everyone was upbeat regarding the upcoming start of the major reconstruction after the September quake. It is very heartbreaking that another major tragedy happened even before being given a chance to get up on their feet again.

    May our prayers give more strength to the grieving families, the injured and the people of Christchurch.

    I hope my good mate, Paul Clarke and his family are OK.

  6. Andrew Matheson says:

    Update: The embassy has opened a condolence book in memory of those who lost their lives or who suffered in this tragegy. It will be available at the embassy during working hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm (www.nzembassy.com/philippines).

  7. Rodney Rodney says:

    It seems that all of us in New Zealand (I live in Wellington) know someone living in Christchurch. It is certainly a hard time for the entire country, although none more than for the people of Christchurch, their friends and whanau.

    The response from our friends around the world has been most impressive. The support from around the world is much appreciated.

    Thank you for sending your people to help our people.

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