The resilience and the determination of the New Zealand people cannot be underestimated. They are rebuilding their beautiful city of Christchurch, even as new earthquakes continue. New Zealand's dynamic ambassador to Washington, the Right Honorable Mike Moore, is the leader of the fundraising efforts in the United States. He has participated in a number of fundraising activities, at the Embassy, in schools, pubs, and other venues.
On April the 15th, he hosted a gala, black tie dinner at the modern NZ Embassy in Washington, across the street from the US vice presidential residence. This event raised at least NZD200,000 for the Christchurch relief efforts. That major 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck on February 22, and killed at least 169 people. There were other large earthquakes before and afterwards, but this was the largest and most destructive.
This earthquake struck home to a number of Americans, including those who love the wonderful country of New Zealand. Over 50 influential Americans were in Christchurch at the time of the big tremor. They were attending the US-NZ Partnership Forum, a conference between US and NZ leaders. They are working to promote closer bilateral ties. Many of them now say they are more determined than ever to do so.
One of the speakers at the gala dinner was Admiral Thad Allen, who was in Christchurch when the giant earthquake struck. He said "the country's ability to recover from such an event and come together was admirable." He also complimented the diversity and resilience of the people."
Ambassador Mike Moore has repeatedly complimented the generosity of the American people. He said he was touched by the solidarity. He told the largely American audience, "This is not a small thing you are doing for us... we are all in this together." He added, "The US government, from President Obama on down, has given us all the assistance we have needed."
The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race. He was born near Christchurch, and said the city is "open for business." He implied he would throw in a free dinner with him in Los Angeles if contributions continue.
New Zealanders are generous people, and they help victims of earthquakes in Japan, Haiti, and other areas. They are also there to help others who are suffering. But their needs should not be forgotten in their crises, and they are not. The earthquakes have torn apart lives, homes, streets, businesses, and houses of worship. But they have not torn apart friendship.