Monday, February 28, 2011

Helping Christchurch

Last week I wrote about the devastating earthquake that struck the beautiful city of Christchurch in New Zealand. The news has been shocking – large parts of the city including the CBD have been destroyed, homes reduced to rubble, and the number of those who lost their lives is continuing to climb.

Around the world there has been a moving response to the tragedy. International search and rescue teams from Australia, Japan, China, USA, UK, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore are helping the many New Zealanders working on the ground, underlying the international dimensions of the tragedy. Many foreign nationals have died in the earthquake, partly because one of the deadliest building collapses housed an international language school. Christchurch at the time was stacked with high ranking US trade and commerce officials who had just finished a US-NZ Council summit with their New Zealand counterparts. (I was due to attend but my knee surgery has limited my long range travel).

I have been in the US and the UK over the last week and everyone has been asking me about the situation, showing amazing concern.

There are a number of ways people can make a difference for Christchurch and New Zealand. Last night NZ Prime Minister John Key launched the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, a global fundraiser for the recovery effort. To contribute, visit the website here. John says he’s been humbled by the offers of help and assistance pouring in from individuals, organizations and governments around the world. “This new Appeal gives people another means of donating to the people of Christchurch and the recovery effort.”

Another New Zealander who has been giving international support is Phil Keoghan, the host of The Amazing Race (Season 18 premiered on CBS last night) and a New Zealander (and a Cantabrian) to his toes. His appeal – put out over Craig Fergusson’s Late Late Show on CBS on Saturday night – is for people to keep visiting New Zealand. The Scot wondered if people would feel strange about traveling to a country where one part was devastated. But Phil reassured them, “It is actually the best thing that people can do to feed the economy. The rest of New Zealand is open for business, and we need to communicate that … It’s the best thing that people can do.” See Phil’s interview on the CBS Early Show this morning.

My wife Rowena and daughter Bex have made a contribution to the appeal started by the shelter provider Habitat for Humanity; and Johnny McCabe, and ex-Saatchi & Saatchi creative director has come up with a great rugby idea we’re getting in front of Steve Tew at NZRU this week. It’s all hands on deck!!