For those who didn’t realize, I live in Canterbury, a region of New Zealand that last weekend suffered a fairly major earthquake. I am a shareholder in a company that owns a fairly large commercial building, and part own a number of businesses that are tenants of that building – with reasonably significant damage there re some business impacts on those operations.

My post however is a little more general than that, this evening I saw the following appeal on Facebook:


Bear in mind some economic impact context:

  • New Zealand has the Earthquake Commission that covers domestic earthquake loss. This body has a $15 billion funding pool
  • Estimated damages to the region are around $2 billion
  • Many large New Zealand corporates have already donated large sums to a hastily set up “Mayoral fund” for rebuilding
  • Central Government has also pledged significant funding

And some human context:

  • Our 7.1 scale event caused no fatalities while the recent Haiti event (the same intensity) killed 230,000
  • We have excellent Civil Defence and community support bodies already set up
  • We have a pretty good social welfare system that will cover people impacted through economic hardship

So… given all of this context, is it really appropriate to be asking people to donate to Canterbury citizens? Especially when Haiti is still reeling from its own event and Pakistan is flooded (literately and figuratively) with natural disaster impacts.

I say no. As a community we’re more than capable of looking after ourselves. While the concern and interest is much appreciated – it’s way better directed to Haiti, Pakistan or some other location that really needs it…

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • agreed with you there 100% its a bit funny too the “i survived 4 Sept earthquake” group on fb… so did everyone else lol. Definitely contributions financially should be aimed towards Haiti and Pakistan, there’s just no comparism (which is a GREAT thing)

  • People can donate to Pakistan floods or Haiti Earthquake through organisations like WorldVision.

    You are right. They need it more than we do in NZ!

  • Hey Ben

    Given the Twitter conversation today I thought I’d clarify. I agree in principle with your thoughts here. However I think “What hour of need. Canterbury is doing fine” is incredibly disrespectful for all those people suffering.

    In reality the “macro” approach you are suggesting, while good in principle isn’t perfect. Our office neighbour in tears today having lost her business, staff having all but lost houses. They are far from fine. All those people in shelters right now, they’d certainly appreciate some support. We donated some money today to help them, correct me if I am wrong, you’re telling them they are OK and there is enough support here locally and from the government. Maybe, probably not.

    I won’t go on, and hope I am reading more into this that what it actually says.


    • Hi Lawrence

      I guess I’m saying a couple of things. Firstly that, despite this being undoubtedly traumatic, people need to try and have a bit of perspective and be eternally grateful hat no one died in this event.

      Secondly it’s a bit of a reminder that, while money is great, it’s no replacement or “mucking in” and helping each other out.

      Since my post I’ve heard a bunch of stories about communities banding together and helping each other out, that’s relaxed me a little about this issue….

      • Well Ben

        Given the day I have had, I can truly say you are full of shit.

        Glad you are feeling relaxed. Much of Christchurch isn’t. Enjoy your C4 coffee.


        • Lawrence, totally understand where the tension comes from. For what it’s worth I’m not enjoying this stuff either – looking at the possibility of having to move 8 different businesses and “ground zero” a lovely old building.

          What I am trying to do is take a little bit of perspective from the fact that no one died, there are great support services in place and we (the city) will rebuild…

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