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PM Address at Interfaith Tsunami Memorial Service

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister Address at Interfaith Memorial Service for those lost following the tsunami on 26 December 2004

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Auckland


Sunday 16 January 2005

Three weeks ago the world began to watch in horror as a catastrophe without precedent in recent times unfolded around the Indian Ocean.

In these days of instant communications, news travels quickly and the world seems a smaller place than in the past.

That has given us the capacity to be a more intimate and interlinked international community – and indeed this catastrophe has also seen human beings reach out to support each other on an unprecedented scale.

We all identified with the desperate struggle for survival, the heartbreak of seeing loved ones and friends swept to their deaths, with the seriously injured, and with the trauma and distress suffered by survivors and witnesses of this calamity.

On this Memorial Day, we remember and honour all those who died and all others who have been so terribly affected by the tsunami.

Throughout New Zealand today, many have observed the minute's silence in recognition of what has happened and to pay their respects.

I thank all those across religions, local government, community organisations, event organisers, and the media, who have helped to make this Memorial Day one of significance nationwide.

Our thoughts are with all the New Zealanders killed, missing, or injured, and with their families; and with those who have returned home deeply distressed by what they have witnessed.

Our thoughts are with the countless numbers of people across many countries who have been killed or who are missing, injured, or made homeless by this catastrophe.

Our thoughts are with the communities in New Zealand which originate from the devastated region – and which have seen their home countries so damaged and so many lives lost.

And our thoughts are with those New Zealanders who are serving on our behalf in the relief efforts in Asia – the New Zealand police officers and civilians working in the morgues, the defence personnel in the hospitals and supporting the relief flights, the foreign affairs staff and other government personnel, and all our non-governmental workers and volunteers in the field.

The support and compassion expressed by New Zealanders for those who have been the victims of this awful tragedy has been overwhelming. New Zealanders have contributed so generously to appeals for funds for the victims and the devastated communities.

We want to help meet their immediate needs, and to support both the rebuilding, which is sorely needed, and the development of warning systems to avert catastrophe in the future.

Across religions, faiths, and beliefs; across ethnicities and national boundaries, the common humanity of people has shone through at this time of great adversity for so many.

My hope is that the permanent memorial to all those who have died, suffered, and experienced such personal and community loss will be enhanced solidarity and a strengthened sense of community worldwide.

May all those no longer with us rest in peace; may the injured be cared for and the distressed comforted; and may the devastated communities be supported to rebuild their lives.

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