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More Aftershocks in Christchurch

16th June 2011 by , | No Comments

Andrew Needs speaking at the AGM of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians

I had fully intended my blog references to the Rugby World Cup to become something of a “cracked record” in the lead up to the September/October event in New Zealand. I had not envisioned having another event of such dominance, not at least until 22 February, when Christchurch was devastated by an intense and highly destructive earthquake (with 181 deaths). That quake has been followed by after tremors, the biggest of which hit earlier this week. There were no serious casualties in the latest quake but the frayed nerves of the people of Christchurch get no respite.

I recently spoke at the Annual General Meeting of the Former Parliamentarians Association of Canada. The date for the meeting and my address had been set well in advance and I was looking forward to using the opportunity to tell the story of New Zealand, a nation known globally for its beauty, ability to produce some of the world’s finest primary produce and as a nation of innovators. It was not really a surprise when the (120) former Parliamentarians requested that I dedicate my entire address to updating them on the earthquake and the rebuild, both physically and in the context of the lives of individuals, families and communities.

Expatriate kiwis, Americans and Canadians continue to follow and support the recovery effort in Christchurch. North America’s response to the earthquake was also first on the agenda at the recent “NZ Inc” meeting in Washington DC, with discussions among the various New Zealand Missions and agencies working in North America. We were briefed by Dr Peter Watson, who has been instrumental in setting up American Friends of Christchurch (AFOC) (link). AFOC is a US based initiative that supports earthquake relief efforts in Christchurch with representatives from business, education, policy and not-for-profit groups.

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