Supporting the earthquake recovery
10 March - Column from Hekia Parata
More than two weeks on from the devastating earthquake our hearts and thoughts remain with the people of Christchurch.
After ten days of searching for survivors, search and rescue operations in have moved into the recovery phase. The priority is finding the bodies of victims and helping families through this incredibly hard time.
Prime Minister John Key has announced that a national memorial service will be held in Christchurch's Hagley Park on March 18 to honour those who lost their lives.
I have visited Christchurch and was blown away by the destruction. The power of mother nature evident and perhaps a reminder to us all that our beloved Aotearoa New Zealand does lie on a myriad of fault lines.
While in Christchurch I visited a number of ethnic groups and communities and was touched to see how people are banding together and supporting one another in these trying times.
The Canterbury Chinese Support Group, for example, is not only helping coordinate volunteers but is also helping support families who are searching for loved ones. They were also providing accommodation and shelter, and support to international students who have become displaced
Many people want to know how they can help, and donating money remains the best way. Donations can be made to the official Government earthquake appeal at www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz.
Businesses and organisations can pledge larger-scale goods and services at pledge.canterburyearthquake.org.nz.
It's great to see the people of Mana doing their bit for the people of Canterbury. Aotea College I see raised over $400 in a collection and in a unique display of support stood side by side on a bank near the school's sports ground and formed the words Kia Kaha or be strong. Kapiti College had a work day while Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, also held a Christchurch fundraiser. All very thoughtful gestures.
Beyond the recovery effort, the next priority is providing financial support to those in need. More than $6 million has been paid in emergency civil defence payments for food, clothing, petrol, and accommodation.
The Government has also announced an initial $120 million package for people who cannot work because of the earthquake.
The final priority will be rebuilding. The Government is committed to getting Christchurch back on its feet. But we have to think carefully about how we fund that. Government is still considering its options, but for now, our focus is on recovery and providing support for people and their families on the ground.
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