RM500,000 raised by Malaysia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce for quake victims

Vast: The Christchurch Arts Centre with the weekend market in operation in New Zealand.

MORE than 130 Malaysians contributed about RM500,000 to the Christchurch Earthquake Disaster Fund to help those who were affected by the tragedy last year.

The Malaysia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (MNZCC) was also the first organisation in the world to launch the fund.

Its chairman Richard Tankersley said the half million ringgit took several months to raise.

“Back then, the response was really heart-warming, ranging from many Malaysians who contributed RM5 postal orders to even RM75,000 and RM100,000,” he said.

Recently, Tankersley headed to Christchurch to hand over the cheques to University of Canterbury (UC), Christchurch Arts Centre (which was the old university campus more than 100 years ago) and the iconic Christchurch Cathedral.

“UC was badly effected by the earthquake and quite a number of their buildings were either damaged, or vacant for structural checking and they lost between 300 and 400 international students. Part of the payment was for a contribution towards a surau at the university.”

Tankersley said the cathedral was almost completely destroyed as the earthquake was the fourth most costly earthquake in history and the ground acceleration was the fastest ever recorded.

“We also met with the mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). He was extremely grateful to Malaysians and MNZCC for taking the initiative to raise funds,” he said, adding that within 24 hours of the disaster MNZCC agreed to establish the fundraising account for Christchurch.

More than 1,400 multi-storey buildings are being demolished in Christchurch to facilitate the rebuilding which would cost between US$24bil to US$30bil (RM73bil to RM91.5bil).

While the buildings at UC did not collapse, the structural damage caused a great loss to the university as hundreds of students relocated.

Tankersley said 50 temporary buildings had to be built on the sports field to provide temporary teaching facilities.

To preserve the memories and experiences of people of the Canterbury region, a special UC Seismic Digital Archive is being set up.

According to UC Ceismic programme office manager Dr Christopher Thomson, The QuakeStudies Digital Archive is UC’s major contribution to this project. “It is a research repository designed to preserve a wide variety of data and describe it with detailed metadata.

Currently it holds about 5,000 items, including reports, records, photographs, newspapers, video, audio, and transcripts. A further 20,000 items are under development, including research papers, videos, graphics and historical engineering and architectural plans,” said Thomson.

MNZCC is a private, non-profit organisation formed in 1992 with the objective of helping businesses in Malaysia, with New Zealand connection, to benefit through their association with each other.

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