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Humanity Greater Than Any Act of Nature

1 MARCH 2011

Humanity Greater Than Any Act of Nature

We sometimes wonder in New Zealand who would come to the rescue if we ever needed help. After the earthquake struck Christchurch we found out.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the first international leader to address Parliament, said in her speech that while Australia has alliances and friendships around the world “New Zealand alone is family”. Following the earthquake she pledged to do everything Australia could to assist.

The support we have received from Australia is remarkable. Within hours, 150 search and rescue personnel from New South Wales and Queensland were dispatched, along with a 20-member medical team. 300 police officers have also been sent over, relieving pressure on the local police.

Other countries have also rushed to help. Singapore has made a massive contribution; 116 Singaporean Defence personnel were already in New Zealand, and have assisted with the security cordon in the Christchurch CBD. A further 55 search and rescue personnel have also been provided.

A Japanese team arrived on Thursday, with 67 personnel. The UK sent a team of 55, Taiwan sent 24 and the US dispatched a team of 80.

Our country has never been faced with the horror of war fought on our shores. Our isolation has long been our protection. Never before have we been faced with images of a major New Zealand city destroyed.

Like Coventry and Dresden, the sight of Christchurch Cathedral in ruins is a poignant image that will remain in our memories for generations. However, whereas Coventry and Dresden symbolise the futility of war, the image of the battered Christchurch Cathedral will remind us of the support we received from around the world in our time of need.

Thousands of kilometres from our nearest neighbours, it sometimes feels like we are floating, out on our own in the middle of the Pacific. The rest of the world showed us this week that this is not the case.


The earthquake operation is now the largest domestic operation that the New Zealand Defence Force that has ever undertaken. Well over a thousand NZDF personnel are directly involved round the clock.

History repeated itself when the earthquake hit Christchurch. HMNZS Canterbury was in Lyttelton, and Navy personnel were among the first to go to the aid of the residents. In 1931 the Royal Navy sloop HMS Veronica had just tied up in Napier when the Hawke’s Bay earthquake struck - sailors were the first on the scene in that disaster as well.

As well as the immediate response on shore, the Canterbury has prepared hundreds of meals at a time for residents of Lyttelton and the surrounding area. Burnham Military Camp is also providing thousands of meals a day for Police, Fire and Defence personnel.

Army water treatment units are producing 2000 litres of fresh water an hour.

The Air Force is playing a vital role, ferrying personnel and equipment into the region and establishing an air bridge between Christchurch and Wellington to evacuate injured people and foreign tourists stranded without accommodation or their belongings.

There is a long way to go for Canterbury but the Defence Force will be there too, doing whatever it can to help.


Tracy Kirkley from my North Shore office is part of a team helping to send some assistance to Christchurch.

If anyone would like to donate non-perishable food items or bottled water, please feel free to drop these into the electorate office at 15 Anzac St, Takapuna.

If anyone would like to make a cash donation, please visit: www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz

Hon Dr Wayne Mapp

MP North Shore


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