It's time to Raise the Roof to help victims of quake disasters
The dust had barely settled in Christchurch, when an even greater tragedy hit Japan. Both nations are known for their 'we will not be beaten' approach - in life and on the rugby pitch.
In New Zealand, despair among its 4.3 million people, soon gave way to 'pitching up' - the Kiwi term for doing all you can to help in any situation.
And Hong Kong will be pitching up during Sevens week, with 2,000 people expected to attend the Raise The Roof Christchurch Earthquake Charity Appeal on Thursday night at the Valley Big Top Tent opposite Hong Kong Stadium. It is hoped more than HK$1million will be raised for the New Zealand Red Cross.
'Events like these are an excellent way to raise much needed money but they're equally valuable for us Kiwis abroad in terms of helping us connect with the tragedy and with our countrymen. It's also part of our own grieving process here,' says organiser Grant Beuzeval of Valley RFC. 'Initially, this was a fundraiser for our country, but in the aftermath of the quake in Japan, we're keen to donate 25 per cent of proceeds towards the Japan quake relief effort. We have to stand together. We're working to promote this to the Japanese community also.'
The event is being held in conjunction with the New Zealand Consulate-General, the Chamber of Commerce, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the New Zealand Society, Tradition Valley RFC and Iron Monger Events. The HKRFU has also backed it.
'We are also hoping some of the New Zealand Sevens players and former rugby greats will come out of the woodwork,' Beuzeval said.
New Zealand consul general Adele Bryant said the response from communities and friends in Hong Kong had been 'heartwarming'.
'Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city so to see much of its beautiful and historic central business district reduced to rubble was awful. The loss of life involved people of many nationalities so this was not just a New Zealand tragedy but an international one.
'Offers to help come from all over the globe. We are seeing this again with the devastating tsunami in Japan where New Zealand has sent a rescue team. Hong Kong is no exception. This is a generous city and the response of the Kiwi community and friends of New Zealand in Hong Kong has been truly heartwarming.'
The New Zealand Society of Hong Kong plus New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in association with the Eclipse Group raised more than HK$100,000 on Tuesday from a quiz night, while the Australian International School in Hong Kong is hosting a fundraising event tomorrow for both the Christchurch and Japan disasters.
'We'd only just completed a fundraising campaign at the school for the Australian floods when the Christchurch earthquake occurred,' said Alex Gibbs, the school's director of development & community relations who is also the assistant coach of the Hong Kong Sevens team.
'Many teachers and families are either Kiwis or have close friends and relatives in New Zealand so we felt compelled to do something. We also have Japanese students here, and widened our original efforts to include donations for this nation in need also. When we heard of the quake, students rallied around and suggested we give back to New Zealand as they are such an important part of our school community.'
For further information on Raise The Roof, see the Tradition Valley RFC website http://www.valleyrfc.com/quakerelief/event or email firstname.lastname@example.org. No advance booking is necessary, walk-ins only. Maximum capacity 2,000 people so first in best dressed. Tickets HK$500, students/children HK$200, open bar. Donations can also be made at http://www.redcross.org.nz/donate or http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/