Grateful: Christchurch says thank you to the rebuild workers
Where would Christchurch be today without the assistance of the many thousand of workers who have contributed to the post-earthquake rebuild over the past six-and-a-half years? We sometimes hear complaints about the slow pace of progress repairing the roads and infrastructure, and building new structures - but how much more delay would there have been if people had not come to Christchurch from around the region, elsewhere in New Zealand and throughout the world to help?
Yet - how often have we stopped to think about and recognise the contribution of these workers to our city?
We owe them a great deal.
In order to acknowledge the contribution of these workers, several organisations collaborated to hold an event of Sunday 26 March. These organisations were Streets (Methodist Church), Citizens Advice Bureau, Philippines Culture and Sports and the Canterbury Migrant Centre, with support from other groups including the Christchurch City Council, the University of Canterbury Arts Internship programme, Rotary (which provided funding for the food) and volunteers from Lions and other organisations.
The rebuild workers were acknowledged during the formal part of the event. Speakers included Arihia Bennett, Chief Executive of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, who opened the proceedings with a karakia.
Reverend Rob Ferguson of Streets then explained the whakaaro behind the event, which had been initiated following discussions he had held with migrant workers who had lived for many years in Christchurch but still did not necessarily feel at 'home' here. Rotary District Governor Arie Geerlofs reiterated the importance of this message, and Christchurch City Councillor Anne Galloway remarked that the event fitted well with the Council's newly-published Multicultural Strategy which aims to make Christchurch thoroughly welcoming and embracing of migrants and cultural diversity.
Filipino Ambassador Jesus S. Domingo concluded the speeches by noting the strong ties between the Philippines and New Zealand, not least through the many Filipino rebuild workers here. Ambassador Domingo also gave an impromptu karaoke performance with the live band, which thrilled the audience.
Alongside the formal part of the event, there was also free food (a sausage sizzle, vegetarian samosas and spring rolls and Filipino desserts) and games like football, hoola hoops and quoits.
The event was attended by approximately 150 people throughout the afternoon, despite the drizzle.
The organisers of the event would like to thank the many people who supported and volunteered at the event - and of course, to reiterate once more our message of Kia ora! to the men and women who have helped get Christchurch back on its feet.