Earthquake fundraisers in Canada
5th April 2011 by Andrew Needs, Ottawa | 2 Comments
Last night was quite a night at my place a.k.a the New Zealand Official Residence. With an army of volunteers cooking, serving, clearing away, selling raffle tickets, we hosted 150 guests to support our fundraiser for the Christchurch Earthquake appeal. There was strong interest in knowing more about New Zealand’s progress toward and future plans for recovery. While the evening had a number of solemn notes, there was a strong predisposition to also celebrate the resilience of the human spirit. And in that spirit people arrived, as advised, with cash in their pockets. The evening raised over C$15,000 ($NZ20,000) toward the appeal. Our guest list was eclectic and this shone through in what was a great evening. We had a big contingent of kiwis; a large number from the relatively small but deeply passionate Ontario rugby community; a contingent of Royal Military College cadets who drove up from Kingston, presented an oversized cheque from their fundraising efforts and added some real style, fully kitted out, appropriately enough in their formal red and black uniforms (Canterbury colours); and many others with a strong desire to support Christchurch.
I was in Toronto last week to attend a KEA (Kiwi Expats Abroad) organised event downtown at Hemingway’s Bar. That was a great event as well, probably in excess of 300 people and with the proceeds of the raffle my understanding is that total funds raised exceeded C$75,000. Fantastic job. I know that there are events of various shapes and sizes like this going on all over Canada and Kiwis in Montreal have contributed some C$6,000 in contributions to earthquake appeals. I would love to hear from people and they can either respond to my blog or email me direct at the High Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am attaching below an abridged version of the address I gave to the Ottawa fundraiser.
Earthquake Fundraiser, Official Residence, 31 March 2010
I have made a lot of speeches since arriving in Canada. While I am really really pleased to see you all here tonight, it was one speech that I was hoping to never have to give. I am usually quite brief in what I say at various events, tonight I am going to ask you to bear with me for about 10 minutes as there are a number of things that I want to say.
But before I start talking about New Zealand I wanted to say that our hearts go out to our friends in Japan who are coping with an earthquake, tsunami and a nuclear emergency. My colleague the Ambassador for Japan is also holding an event this evening and I wish him all the best.
You have all followed either through the media or direct contact with friends and relatives who were in Christchurch on 22 February, the heart rending stories of personal loss as a result of the earthquake.. While lower in magnitude than the September 2010 quake, this one was so shallow and so localised, that Christchurch was shaken to its very core. Even with our strict building codes, it wasn’t just the beautiful historic stone structures that came down or were severely damaged.
Close to 200 people died, many from overseas, including one Canadian. Many more have serious and debilitating injuries. The world’s media focus, understandably, was on the human toll. I think that beyond New Zealand, an understanding of the physical and economic impact is less clear
Over 4500 buildings in the CBD have been inspected, and around 1000 of these will require demolition or major structural repairs
More than 10,000 homes in Christchurch may have to be demolished with another 100,000 having maintained damage.
Roads are badly damaged. Road closures remain in place especially in the CBD and other areas where buildings are unsafe and require demolition.
Of the 94 sport grounds in Christchurch, 41 are unusable due to liquefaction and sink holes. All 48 sports and recreation facilities are closed.
Sixteen of the 20 public libraries are closed.
Water has been restored to residents, but the sewerage system requires major repair. The city has been supplied with 40, 000 temporary toilets while this work is underway.
Estimates of the damage vary, but recent figures suggest the cost could be up to NZ $20 billion or around 15 per cent of GDP.
As Prime Minister John Key noted in launching the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, the government and people of New Zealand are fully aware that the huge cost of rebuilding will fall to the nation as a whole. That rebuilding will draw on the qualities that we as New Zealanders like to see in ourselves: close knit, caring and resilient. We are also lucky to be a relatively wealthy nation. Make no mistake though, this will be a long road to recovery.
The Appeal, that you are supporting tonight, while launched by the Prime Minister, is a non-government charitable trust, which has tax deductability in Canada. The money will go toward the vital role of rebuilding the community ethos that is so strong in New Zealand but had much of its heart ripped out in Christchurch. Facilities such as sporting amenities and community centres that took years of local fundraising to build, have been destroyed. Support for these grassroots entities is vital as communities play a role in rebuilding shattered lives.
It is cash only for the raffle, but we will take IOUs on the silent auction items. But a word of warning. Al can you come here for a minute: Al is my collection agent. You do not want a late night visit from Al. Al broke Defence Minister Peter McKay’s arm a couple of years back and Peter didn’t even owe him money.
Before we play the national anthem of New Zealand I want to make it very clear that while Christchurch has a big rebuilding job, the key services that make it the primary entry point for international visitors to the South Island of New Zealand are fully operational. You can fly in, pick up your rental car or mobile home or make a connection onto elsewhere in the South Island via plane or coach. New Zealand is very much open for business.
No one should have missed the fact we are hosting the Rugby World Cup in September and October this year. Sadly Christchurch will not now be hosting any matches. The Rugby World Cup was to be a sporting celebration, but also a celebration by New Zealanders in showcasing our country to the world. None of that changes. The only thing that has changed is that we are adding to the mix a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. I want you to join us in that celebration tonight.