The Kiwi spirit

One thing  i love about living in New Zealand is the Kiwi spirit, where kindness and generosity is overwhelming in times of crisis. Here are a few examples of response to the Christchurch earthquake.

Quake Escape is  dedicated to helping victims of the latest Christchurch earthquake find temporary accommodation in this time of need. The response here has been phenomenal – they are up to more than 2,000 offers, with over 8,200 beds available throughout NZ.  They have matched over 140 families and people in need with suitable offers.

The 10,000-strong student volunteer army has been gathered via social networking site Facebook to help those suffering in the wake of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch.  “We are working closely with Civil Defence in this operation. At this very early stage we are focusing on helping everyday people in their homes in low risk areas with non-life threatening situations,” student organiser Sam Johnson says.y’  The Student Army was created to help clear up after the 4th September quake last year.

A group of concerned Rangiora volunteers is running loads of water into the Christchurch suburbs most desperately in need.
The ‘Rangiora Earthquake Express’ is asking local residents to search their households for useable water containers that can be sealed, to sanitise those containers and to fill them with Rangiora tap water.

Otago’s Heidi McQuillan is planning to head up State Highway One to bake for those in need in Christchurch. Dunedin residents can bring non-perishable baked goods (appropriately packaged), baking ingredients and coffee beans to the Centre for Innovation reception, 87 St David St, Dunedin and they will be transported to Christchurch.

Dairy giant Fonterra had supplied 34 tankers with 20,000 litre capacities to provide the water at selected sites. Fonterra is also installing five milk vats filled with fresh water around Christchurch.  CEO Andrew Ferrier says the company is filling the containers – which can hold 21,000 litres each – and dropping them at school centres in the city. “We’ve got an additional 22 of these containers around the South Island and our people on the ground are currently co-ordinating with Civil Defence to get these to communities in Christchurch as quickly as possible.”

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A dark day

Tuesday 22nd February will be remembered as dark day for Christchurch and New Zealand.

Police say there are bodies throughout the central business district while the living, trapped in multiple buildings, are fighting for their lives after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck at a shallow depth 10km southeast of the city at 1pm yesterday.

Thousands of terrified city workers ran screaming from buildings around the CBD after the quake struck yesterday as brickwork tumbled, lights went out and roads uplifted.

Some were crushed by falling masonry and lay where they fell as shocked citizens staggered around them, some bleeding profusely. Buses and cars were crushed under falling building facades as the central city turned once more into a disaster zone.

Others were trapped in central city buildings, including the CTV building, PGG Building, and The Press in the Square.

The iconic spire on Christ Church Cathedral collapsed in a huge plume of dust, as did the turret on the Press building.

The suburbs of Brighton and Dallington, which were the most seriously affected in September, sustained another round of severe damage and may be without power for days.

Suburbs such as Beckenham and Cashmere, which were relatively unscathed in September, showed signs of serious liquifaction yesterday and sustained serious damage.

Outside of the CBD, worst-hit suburbs include St Albans, Sumner, Redcliffs, Lyttelton, New Brighton, and Sydenham, where more buildings have collapsed. The Ferrymead Bridge, which was under repair following the Boxing Day earthquake, is closed.

Temporary mortuaries have been set up in Christchurch and the Canterbury District Health board is looking to move dozens more people out of Christchurch hospitals to make space for those injured.

At least eight intensive care patients were evacuated by air ambulance last night to hospitals throughout the country and it is understood they will be looking to free up more beds this morning.

Some patients were being moved to Timaru. Princess Margaret and Burwood Hospitals were being used to take the pressure off Christchurch Hospital. All the hospitals were structurally sound despite some superficial damage and power outages.

Canterbury DHB has asked for support from orthopaedic and general surgeons and surgical, emergency and intensive care nurses from around the country.

Rescue efforts by hundreds of search and rescue workers from around New Zealand focused on the Canterbury Television building in Madras Street and the Pyne Gould Guiness Building in Cambridge Terrace, both of which collapsed.

Specialist search and rescue teams from Australia are already on the ground at work with more teams due to arrive from Taiwan, Japan and the UK.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) said it was sending a disaster response team that included the Los Angeles Fire Department’s urban search and rescue team.

As i sit here today, its hard to fathom how it must be for people in Christchurch- having spoken to some of my students there, i know it is very bad.

For us who live in Wellington, there is an odd feel about the city here;  we all know that what happened in Christchurch is a real probability for us. But you have to get on with life and not be paralysed with fear. You have to be prepared though too. I have an earthquake kit with water, food, medical supplies and tools; enough for 4 days. I have pre-arranged meeting plans for whan Ingrid and i are at work and i live only 10 mins walk from the Northland Civil Defence base.

I’m sure that many people in Christchurch were prepared too, but the reality is often more difficult than you can imagine.

Flying vists

We have had  a couple of  unusual visitors to Wellington Airport this week:

First off we had Air New Zealand’s news Airbus A320 in All Blacks livery to mark the Rubgy World Cup here later in the year.

The plane, branded ZK-OAB, ended its three day journey from manufacturer Airbus’ base in Toulouse, France via Gander (Canada), Denver, Los Angeles and Samoa.

The aircraft – painted black with a silver fern to mark the airline’s sponsorship of the All Blacks – was recently flown from the Airbus manufacturing facility in Toulouse, France, to Hamburg, Germany, for a fit-out of the cabin interior. The plabe is the only Air NZ A320 to be painted black.

Air New Zealand has 14 of the 171-seat aircraft on order, and this first one will be brought onto domestic routes from early February. Another three will be delivered this year and the remaining 10 progressively through until 2016, coinciding with the expiry of leases for Boeing 737-300.

Later in the week the new Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER landed in Wellington too.

The 777-300 heralds a new era in long haul flying for Air New Zealand passengers with the unique Kiwi designed lie-flat Economy Skycouch, brand new Premium Economy seating and enhanced Business Premier experience. The aircraft will service the Auckland-Los Angeles-London route from April.

Air New Zealand’s GM Airline Operations Captain David Morgan said:

At 74 metres long the B777-300ER is the longest Air New Zealand aircraft to land at Wellington Airport. We can’t operate the aircraft into Wellington commercially with a full passenger and freight payload, but on this occasion we’re able to make a special visit because the aircraft will be virtually empty with only essential staff on board.”