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New Zealanders remember Boxing Day Tsunami

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

26 December 2005
Media Release

New Zealanders remember Boxing Day Tsunami


New Zealanders here and across the region will join together to remember the thousands killed and the communities devastated in the Asian tsunami that struck a dozen countries a year ago today, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said.

Five New Zealand citizens and two New Zealand citizens who were dual nationals were killed in the disaster which left nearly 300,000 people dead and 1.7 million displaced across countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

``Our thoughts go out to the families of those who died or were injured by last year’s tsunami, and also to the areas which are still rebuilding,’’ Mr Peters said.

New Zealand provided its largest yet aid contribution following the Boxing Day tsunami – a $68 million aid package – managed largely by NZAID, the government's aid and development agency, for relief, reconstruction and development for affected countries.

“As at December 2005, just over $51 million of this package had been spent. The remainder has been programmed through the Indonesian bilateral programme over the coming years, plus a major project in Sri Lanka,” Mr Peters said.

“The cornerstone of the government’s contribution to the international relief and reconstruction effort following the Boxing Day tsunami was the $20 million contribution to the specialised agencies of the United Nations (UN) and New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to transfer all money pledged.

“An example of this work is the almost $2.5 million contribution made to the work of United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in Aceh. The tsunami devastated health services across the region, a serious situation for all those living in the affected area, but especially so for the estimated 150 000 women who were pregnant at the time.

“Thanks to donations made by countries like New Zealand, UNFPA has been able to protect the health of mothers-to-be by assisting to quickly re-establish services and distribute pre-packaged essential supplies, such as safe delivery kits and midwifery kits.

“The Government was also able to support the generosity of New Zealanders by providing $19 million in matching funds to over 50 organisations and community groups who received public donations. These funds are now contributing to a range of projects across the affected region.

“Following the tsunami large organisations such as Red Cross are using matching funds to work on large projects in many countries. In Indonesia, the Red Cross is building 27 000 new houses and repairing a further 7000, while in Sri Lanka 15 000 new houses will be built.

“New Zealand’s assistance is also taking place on the community level. Several small Sri Lankan and Indonesian community groups received funding through the dollar for dollar initiative and these projects are now underway.

“The Auckland based New Zealand – Sri Lanka Buddhist Trust is supporting reconstruction efforts in a small coastal village of Sri Lanka through a project to repair and restore water and sanitation systems. Through fundraising and the Government’s matching funds 51 families now have access to clean water and toilet facilities.

“There is much more to do, and many of those affected by the tsunami have lost everything and are not yet back on their feet. New Zealand is committed to continuing our role in the recovery for as long as it takes, and delivering our assistance in a meaningful and accountable way,” said Mr Peters.

ENDS

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