Kiwi businesses chip in for PNG earthquake relief

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province in late February this year was among the under-reported disaster news stories in recent times.

PNG High Commissioner in New Zealand Brigarier General (Retd) Francis Agwi speaks at the fundraiser for the victims of the PNG earthquake in Auckland.

More than 160 people were reported killed in the main event alone and several more during the continuing aftershocks. Hundreds were injured with entire communities cut off for weeks in the more remote areas of the province because of massive landslides.

Earlier this week, the New Zealand PNG Business Council organised a fundraiser lunch and auction in Auckland to contribute to the continuing relief efforts in the region.

Addressing business people and individuals who had gathered to offer their support to the relief efforts, PNG Honorary Consul-General in Auckland Peter Goldsmith said according to UNICEF, more than 600,000 people have been affected with more than half needing assistance including emergency supplies like food and potable water.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand worked closely with the business council in organising the event and the fundraising auction. Michael Greenslade, PTI NZ Trade & Investment Commissioner deftly wielded the auctioneer’s gavel, raising $1800.

Many of the winning bids came from the PTI NZ table – either members of the Advisory Board or team members. Advisory Board Chairman John Crawford and members Peter Kiely and Rob Donley all won their bids of New Zealand wine, a hamper full of PNG products and a jersey signed by the Warriors team respectively.

Auctioneer Michael Greenslade works the room.

Other items up for bidding were PNG made cosmetics, clothing and headwear, all successfully bid for by guests across the room.

Brigadier General (retd) Francis Agwi, High Commissioner of PNG in New Zealand and his team attended the event, coming in from Wellington. The High Commision team also successfully bid for some of the items.

Earlier, guest speaker Mark Fox of the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) spoke of the aviation charity’s work in PNG.

The Melanesian country is among the world’s most difficult to access because of the remoteness of communities separated by vast stretches of mountains and thick forests with little or no transport infrastructure beyond the main urban centres.

The humanitarian and disaster relief services provided by MAF is therefore extremely valuable. It flies single engine planes to the remotest villages in the country as it does in 25 or so others across the world.

Mark Fox of MAF.

The planes fly relief items after disasters and also medevac services from their Mount Hagen base for the injured and the infirm, rushing them to nearest medical facility over the difficult terrain, saving critical time.

Mr Fox said that the New Zealand Government had recently signed a contract with MAF of $150,000 over a 12 to 18-month period to help with the costs of the ongoing humanitarian work that MAF carries out in the affected region.

MAF was looking for professionals with a background and experience in management, finance, human resources and information technology to work with their teams in PNG and other countries, Mr Fox said.

A total of nearly $ 6000 was raised as a result of the event.

For more information email PTI Pacific Periscope Editor Dev Nadkarni at dev.n@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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