Hurunui Opens Homes and Hearts to Shaken Neighbours

The people of the Hurunui District have been providing help and support to Christchurch and many of its refugee families since the devastating earthquake struck the city on February 22nd.

Mayor Winton Dalley says, “While not unexpected, it is heartening to see the district open its heart and homes to the people of Christchurch, struggling to come to terms with the loss and devastation rife in their city.

“I am proud of, but expected no less, the acts of kindness being shown to our neighbours and of the help that was immediately offered to our neighbours. Emergency services throughout the Hurunui responded within minutes to assist Christchurch, along with countless individuals who continue to give of their time and skills.”

Just as they did after the September quake, residents have offered accommodation to the homeless, trucked in thousands of litres of water from local bores to those without water, baked and delivered food, and got stuck in to help with the clean up effort.

The Hurunui District Council is continuing to provide staff to help man the welfare centres, assist with building inspections, and support the national civil defence operation. It has also offered space in its Amberley office for displaced regional council staff whose Christchurch headquarters is uninhabitable. Twelve regional council staff will be moving in in the coming weeks.

The Council also co-ordinated volunteers to assist at the Burnside Welfare Centre.

Local fire brigades, civil defence and rural fire personnel are continuing to assist Christchurch in the recovery effort.

49 Maori wardens who have arrived to help in Christchurch were initially accommodated at the Amberley Domain Pavilion.

Mayor Dalley says his district is happy to do all it can to help its neighbours.

“For the third time in recent months we all find ourselves, in a variety of ways and to varying degrees, experiencing the tragic results of an unexpected event. The effects have rippled far and wide.

“We have been extremely lucky in both the September and February events to have escaped significant damage within our own district. While we have had a few homes lose chimneys and suffer some minor damage, our infrastructure remains intact, and our people generally are able to continue to go about their business.

“We appreciate things are very different for the people of Christchurch and where we can help them we will – whether that is taking them into our homes or providing financial support – we are with them one hundred percent. Nothing is too much to ask."

Local schools are taking enrolments from displaced students and free internet is being made available at the Amberley, Hawarden, Amuri, Cheviot and Hanmer Springs libraries to help people stay in touch with friends and family within the quake stricken zone.

Christchurch residents who have sought refuge in the district are also able to join the Hurunui libraries as temporary members, at no charge.

Libraries and council service centres are also accepting donations to the Christchurch Mayoral Relief Fund.

Non perishable food, batteries, bottled drinking water, baby supplies, and non perishable pet food can be dropped off at the Amberley Transfer Station and Amberley 4 Square Supermarket for delivery to Christchurch.

The Council is also being swamped with offers of help which it is passing on to the emergency authorities.

Although Hurunui was largely unaffected by the earthquake, Mayor Dalley, says few in the district would be unaffected by the tragedy – if not directly because they have friends and family in the city – at least indirectly as residents of greater Christchurch.

“The city of Christchurch is deeply imprinted in the DNA of every born and bred Cantabrian; it is not just our centre of commerce, but also our cultural and spiritual home.

“The now shattered port of Lyttelton is where our forefathers, who chose to settle and make a life in Hurunui, originally landed before struggling over the now battered Port Hills to the infant city of Christchurch, now lying in ruins.”

He says clearly we must all now accept the city we have grown up with will never again be the same. But he has pledged “ the people of Hurunui will be doing all they can to help with the rebuild to ensure the Christchurch that rises from the ashes is one that we and future generations can continue to be proud of.”

NOTE: Residents and visitors to Hurunui are being warned not to swim in rivers or beaches in the district, as the water quality may be affected by the discharge of sewage into the sea from Christchurch.

For further information contact:

Winton Dalley

Mayor

Hurunui District Council

P: 03 314 0011

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