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Memorial Day for victims of tsunami

11 January 2005

Memorial Day for victims of tsunami

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that the government is designating Sunday 16 January as a Memorial Day for New Zealanders to remember the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami in southern and south east Asia.

"The loss of life, injuries, and devastation caused by the tsunami has been felt right around the world. New Zealand mourns its own victims and injured, as well as the losses suffered by the communities through which the tsunami swept.

"In addition, there are still New Zealand families who do not know what has happened to their loved ones, and there are New Zealanders who have returned home deeply distressed by what they have witnessed.

"All New Zealanders are encouraged to take time on Sunday, be it at a formal event or in a more private or personal way, to remember the many people whose lives have been destroyed or badly affected by the catastrophe.

"Representatives of communities from those nations worst affected are being invited to participate in an inter-faith service to be held at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Parnell, Auckland, at 1.30pm. I encourage leaders of all denominations and faiths to remember the tsunami's victims again in their services this memorial weekend.

"The service at the Cathedral will incorporate one minute's silence at 1.59pm, the time the earthquake struck on the Sunday of Boxing Day. New Zealanders across the country are encouraged to observe this minute's silence. National television and radio stations are also making plans to observe it. Flags on government buildings will be flown at half-mast from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 January.

"Organisers of other public activities scheduled for Sunday 16 January may also wish to incorporate the Memorial Day into their events.

"The New Zealand government has already announced a contribution of ten million dollars to the humanitarian relief effort in those countries worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami. As well, medical, forensic, logistical and other support to the region, and to affected New Zealanders and their families, is being provided by members of the New Zealand Defence Force, Police, and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government departments and agencies. On this Memorial Day we must also remember those New Zealanders doing very difficult work on the front line of the forensic and relief effort.

"New Zealanders are digging deep into their own pockets to contribute generously to fundraising efforts by non-government aid organisations, and the government is continuing to match such donations, dollar-for-dollar.

"Further decisions on funding will be announced after Cabinet meets next Tuesday. New Zealand will continue to play a part in responding to the humanitarian relief, reconstruction, and disaster reduction needs of affected countries," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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