New Zealand’s population is estimated to be something just over 4 million souls living in and around the cities, towns and villages of Aotearoa. Countless further ‘Kiwis’ are scattered across the expanse of the globe, peddling the pioneering spirit of the New Zealander beyond our modest borders. Since the earth rocked beneath the city of Christchurch it has become apparent that the distances in space and time between New Zealanders at home and abroad have vanished, leaving us all as one large whanau; one large family watching, helping and hoping. During this time we have stood ready to offer assistance, to speak words of comfort and to utter prayers for our fellow Kiwis.
In New Zealand it is common to call another your mate, your bro or your cuz (cousin). At times it is nothing more than a learned response, a turn of phrase that rolls off the tongue without thought. But there is also a sense in New Zealand that we are all mates, brothers, sisters and cousins. That even strangers can find a common thread based on nothing more than that they have come from the same nest; that they are both Kiwis. At times that notion is tested, sometimes is bent to the point of breaking, but regardless it survives. It is an aspect of New Zealand’s national identity that is precious and should elicit a feeling of pride.
The devastation that has been wrought upon Christchurch has destroyed homes, claimed lives and left a city and its people shaken and grieving. True to form, New Zealanders have not let their mates down. The alacrity in which New Zealanders have responded to Christchurch’s plight has been worthy of this great little nation. Amongst others, Australia, America and Britain have come to offer their support and aid; Premier, Queen and President alike have offered words of condolence. In a moment of darkness and despair, Cantabrians can take solace that they have support not just from their fellow country men and women but from around the world.
In his address on Wednesday (NZ time), the Prime Minister John Key had these words of reassurance for Christchurch
On behalf of New Zealand let me say to all of you: We feel your pain, as only a small nation can, for none of us feel removed from this event. I am a proud son of Christchurch. I was raised there, I got my first job there, my sister lives there, my mother died there, I know what a wonderful place it is. But my connection to Christchurch is no rare thing. All New Zealanders have a piece of our heart in Christchurch. All of our lives are touched by this event. A friend or family member who lives there. A time spent studying there or a memorable experience had there. We feel connected to your suffering. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Today I want Christchurch to hear this message: You will get through this. This proud country is right behind you and we are backing you with all our might. The world is with us.
Knowing the Kiwi desire to help those in need, the Kiwi mindset to ‘look after your mates’ there is no doubting the sincerity of these words, nor the strength of the New Zealand character to overcome this disaster.
Separated by half the globe, the physical distance between the UK and NZ has been more keenly felt over the last two days. There seems to be very little that one can achieve to help New Zealand while in another country and in another time zone. However, thanks to the technology of the phone, the television and the internet the connections in this world are much strengthened and distances reduced.
For what it is worth, my contribution and assistance is these words written above and what financial contributions I can make to those organisations that are helping out back home. Personally, I don’t like to ask for money – it is one my eccentric traits – I feel uncomfortable at the thought of it and will do whatever I can to avoid its necessity. However, at this time I will ask that, if possible, readers make whatever contribution they can to those organisations back in NZ that helping Cantabrians through this period. Links are provided below.