Earthquake: Community focused action


A state of emergency remains in Christchurch today as aftershocks as large as magnitude 5.4 continued to rumble through the region.

More than 100,000 homes were damaged after a 7.1 earthquake hit at 4.35am on Saturday morning with power, water and sewerage services all disrupted. Five out of every eight homes needs to be assessed by civil engineers.

I believe the toughest days are to come. The redevelopment of infrastructure and peoples homes and lives will be the most critical

A significant number of people remain in welfare centres with the number rising to about 300 last night after two large shocks.


Cordons remain in place around the restricted access zones in the central city and in Kaiapoi. On the ground in Christchurch’s Cranmer Square—in the heart of the inner city but not completely cordoned off—is as close as ADRA staff can get on foot to some of the most severe damage the earthquake has left in its wake.

Pockets of people filter through road blocks and wind around piles of debris to survey the skeletal remains of some of the area’s oldest heritage buildings and talk to one another.

The Ministry of Education has orderd all schools stay closed until Monday next week. Mr Danny Carrasco, principal of Christchurch Adventist School, has been getting the school ready after the mess left from the earthquake. The school building didn’t suffer any structural damage.

Since the weekend, Robert Patton and Pastor Craig Gillis, South New Zealand Conference president, have been engaging with Emergency Managers to identify and address the most pressing community needs. ADRA New Zealand, in partnership with the South New Zealand Conference—are encouraging church members and volunteers to community-focused action.

“I believe the toughest days are to come,” says Pastor Craig Gillis. “The redevelopment of infrastructure and peoples homes and lives will be the most critical. We’re asking church members to look to their own neighbourhoods and communities to help those in need.”

Church leaders were urged to not only address the immediate impact of the quake, but to reiterate existing evacuation plans and work on strengthening partnerships and maintain communication to enhance preparedness for the future.

“I would like to thank the ministers, church leaders, Christchurch Adventist School principal, and representatives of Footsteps who made their way to the Conference office for the debriefing we had with Clinton Rappell, executive director of ADRA NZ,” says Pr Gillis.

Presence at the daily group controllers coordination meeting at Environment Canterbury has helped ADRA NZ to identify welfare as the top priority. From this, two main areas in which ADRA NZ can be of assistance have been deduced. 

Firstly, a shortage of mid and long-term accommodation for displaced families who cannot return to their homes. The Pascoe Park campground, owned by the South New Zealand Conference—can offer rooms and powered caravan sites to homeless residents. Secondly, although the short-term needs appear to be well covered, ADRA’s standing agreement with the Sanitarium Health Food Company can provide longer-term welfare solutions, especially once the initial response has quietened down.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church in South New Zealand is on stand-by to help as requested with food and emergency accomodation,” says Pastor Gillis.

ADRA has committed $10,000 towards the recovery effort and are taking donations from around the world to add to this amount.

Church members are encouraged to contribute to the ADRA NZ Canterbury earthquake appeal via their website