4 Mar 2011

Effects of Christchurch quake being felt deeply in Pacific

11:59 am on 4 March 2011

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Samoa says people there are feeling the effects of the Christchurch earthquake in a deep way.

Nick Hurley says in addition to the Samoan government's donation of more than 75 thousand US dollars to the relief effort, the public's responded very generously to Red Cross and church appeals.

He says a conservative estimate of the money raised so far through people's donations is about 60 thousand US dollars.

"I think that's one reason why they have responded with such open hearts is that it's only 18 months, less than 18 months, since they themselves were struck by the terrible tsunami, September 2009. So they feel exactly how the people in Christchurch have felt, the suddeness of the nature, the arbitrariness of the tragedy."

Nick Hurley says everyone in Samoa has a link or a story that connects with Christchurch in one way or another.

Meanwhile, Cook Islands Tourism says there's been a great response from the industry to a Tourism Ministry proposal to offer free holidays to heroes of the Christchurch earthquake.

The director of destination development says the details of holiday packages are still being worked out but he hopes it'll be possible to offer them to about a hundred people or 50 couples.

Metua Vaiimene says whenever there's a crisis in the Cook Islands, New Zealanders are the first to respond.

And we want to be able to give back to the people of Christchurch in more ways than one and one of the ways that we can give to the people of Christchurch is to offer them what we have here in the Cook Islands and that is the holiday experience of a lifetime.

Metua Vaiimene says there'll be many people who've gone beyond the call of duty during the disaster but the proposal is to offer a free holiday to Christchurch's mayor, Bob Parker, and let him choose the other recipients.

Cook Islands Tourism is also organising a concert in the national auditorium, which will raise funds for the relief efforts in the aftermath of both the Christchurch earthquake and flooding in Australia.

Mr Vaiimene says he expects the event on March 17th to attract a full auditorium of almost 3,000 people.

He says there'll be a flat-rate door entry and the musicians are offering their time for free.

There'll be food on sale because you know Cook Islanders love to eat and there'll be lots of stalls and different activities and all of the funds will go towards what will become the basis of our national appeal.