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Quake Commission Meets with Bereaved Families

5 August 2011

Quake Commission Meets with Bereaved Families

Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission Chair Justice Mark Cooper and Communications Senior Advisor Robin Major have met with 24 families bereaved by the Canterbury earthquakes.

Major acted as Community and Family Liaison Officer until Kate Collins took up the role on 25 July.

Collins is arranging appointments with a further nine family members who have requested private meetings. A group meeting scheduled for 25 June was postponed due to the snow but is being rescheduled.

Justice Cooper and Major met with Quake Families co-chairmen Dr Maan Alkaisi and Brian Kennedy, whose group is made up of some of the bereaved families and includes survivors, on 18 July.

The meetings are in response to a letter Justice Cooper wrote to 207 people who lost loved ones due to the collapse of buildings in the 22 February earthquake including members of the Quake Families group and other families in New Zealand, Australia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Israel, Great Britain, Taiwan, USA, Canada, Philippines, Japan, Korea, Ireland and Turkey. His letter has been translated into the appropriate languages. Some families have indicated they do not wish to meet with the Commission but wish to be kept informed of the inquiry’s progress.

When the Coroner’s inquests resume, Collins will also be available to meet with bereaved families there.

The Commission has also met with CTV staff.

Families are also providing Counsel Assisting, Stephen Mills QC and Mark Zarifeh, with information to assist the inquiry. Counsel Assisting have had meetings with Dr Alkaisi and Kennedy.

“Significant resources are being directed at gathering information from anyone who has relevant information about how the buildings collapsed. This includes family members,” explains Mills.

“Under the Commissions of Inquiry Act the Commission has extensive powers to investigate including the power to require the provision of information and to summons witnesses. These are powers only the Commission has.”

About the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission in Christchurch was established in response to the building failure and loss of life caused by the Canterbury earthquakes in February 2011.

A Royal Commission is the most serious response available to the New Zealand Government. Under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908 it has extensive powers to investigate including the power to require the provision of information and to summons witnesses.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission is chaired by sitting High Court judge Justice Mark Cooper. The other two Commissioners are University of Canterbury Associate Professor Richard Fenwick and Sir Ron Carter.

The Commission will provide an interim report by 11 October 2011 and a final report no later than 11 April 2012.

ENDS

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