Dozens gather to commemorate the anniversary of the Christchurch Earthquake at the New Zealand Embassy

From left: Peter Watson (AFOC), Ambassador Mike Moore and Tim Manning (FEMA). ©2012 GE Gargallo Photography

Washington, DC (February 23, 2012) – The New Zealand Embassy hosted more than 100 guests at a reception last night commemorating the first anniversary of the earthquake in Christchurch which killed close to 200 people.

Ambassador Mike Moore thanked representatives from countries that assisted in the rescue and rebuilding efforts after last year’s earthquake

“To the representatives here tonight whose people lost sons and daughters in Christchurch, we acknowledge your grief,” said Ambassador Moore. “We also thank you for your response, including the search and rescue teams which each of you deployed swiftly.”

Esteemed guests included Ambassador Zhang Yesui of China, Ambassador Chan Heng Chee of Singapore, and Timothy Manning, a Deputy Administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who was in New Zealand at the time of the earthquake. Manning said that seeing volunteers lining up to help the people of Christchurch should serve as an example to us all.

Peter Watson, the head of the American Friends of Christchurch (AFOC) project, said that to date AFOC has been the vehicle for more than US$5 million in donations and US$2.7 million in pledges to Christchurch. Watson also noted that the United States represented the largest source of foreign donations to the Christchurch earthquake relief efforts.

Also speaking at the event was US-NZ Council President, William Maroni, who announced the launch of a new internship program for New Zealand university students.  The Council will provide financial support to two New Zealand students to work in congressional offices for six to eight weeks each year. Canterbury University was selected to inaugurate the new internship program because the Council has been involved in collecting charitable donations for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

Following the reception, guests viewed the U.S premiere of the documentary film, “When a City Falls.” For additional information about the film, visit www.whenacityfalls.co.nz

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