Government doubles dollar-for-dollar donation offerForeign Affairs and Trade
Foreign Minister Phil Goff today thanked New Zealanders for the generosity they had shown in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Asia.
“New Zealanders have already given over $1 million. This is a great initial response and it will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government,” Mr Goff said.
“I can announce today that the limit for the dollar-for-dollar subsidy has been doubled from $2 million to $4 million. I know that as New Zealanders watch this tragedy unfold for the millions of people affected by it, they will continue to contribute and I hope that the Government’s decision will provide further encouragement for that.
“The Ministry is getting a range of offers to assist. The best way that the public can help is by cash donation. This can be made through the appeals launched by NZ aid organisations and the Sri Lankan and Indian communities to help those affected by these terrible events.
“I also welcome the generous response from our corporate community. Fonterra, for example, has contributed milk powder to Sri Lanka, UHT milk to Thailand and nutritional formula for children. They are also exploring additional ways they might be able to assist.
“As we start to see the full extent of the devastation caused by these events, it is clear we will have to do still more to help. The international relief effort is likely to be on a scale we have not witnessed before.
“The Government has so far announced a $5 million package of aid to the affected region and is exploring further ways in which to help.
“After speaking with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Hassan Wirijuda last night, and a similar conversation between Prime Minister Helen Clark and President Bambang Yudhoyono, we are looking to make a further contribution to meet the urgent medical needs in Aceh, where over 80000 people are thought to have died.
“The Government is also working with the New Zealand group, Surfaid, which is making arrangements to take several relief boats with medical personnel up to the Nias Islands, off Aceh. Surfaid has arranged sponsorship and this will now be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government,” Mr Goff said.
Surfaid founder, Dr Dave Jenkins, said his organisation was very familiar with Indonesia.
“Taking the boat will allow a large team to go to Nias and outlying islands, without putting any strain on local accommodation. The focus of our work will be preventing outbreaks of malaria, water purification, urgent medical treatments and a surgical team is being mobilised," Dr Jenkins said.
“We have had a huge response from the New Zealand surf community, a fundraising concert in Wellington is planned, QuikSilver, one of our corporate supporters is providing the key funding for the matching grant, and other key media partners are helping. There is the possibility that we may end up taking more than one boat up, but right now we just want to get up there and see how we can help.”
Around $2 million has also been committed to United Nations agencies working on the ground in countries affected by the tsunami.
“We know a contribution to the specialised agencies of the United Nations will really make a difference. They have the expertise and relationships in place to coordinate quickly to get aid to the areas of greatest need,” Mr Goff said.
The aid package also includes funding for a New Zealand forensics team on-route to Thailand to assist with efforts to identify victims of the tsunami.