Ex-pats raise almost $10,000 for Christchurch earthquake relief
BY ELEANOR AINGE ROY
Last updated 17:19 05/03/2011
Sydney based Kiwis flocked to the Chinatown bar more normally used as a focal point for All Black games, to raise cash for Christchurch on Friday night.
About 300 ex-patriate New Zealanders gathered at Jade Tavern in Sydney's Haymarket, raising almost $10,000.
The national anthem boomed out after two minutes of silence that followed the lighting of candles for those lost in the tragedy, and a screening of a video showing the extent of the catastrophe in the city.
Cantabrian Sean King has two brothers in Christchurch, as well as numerous nieces and nephews, and said while many of those he knew from Christchurch wanted to go back, there was more they could do from Australia.
He said he 'felt his head fall off' when he heard the news on February 22 and he had spent the day avoiding television and desperate to contact his family.
His frantic phone calls and texts eventually paid off when he discovered his family was safe, but he said the feelings of guilt at being away from home were difficult to cope with.
Olivia Losia flew home to Christchurch during the week to be with her family and was shocked by what she saw.
"Initially I went home for comfort but then I wanted to stay and stick it out with my family" she said.
"When I came back on Wednesday I couldn't stop crying - I was the last to board the plane.
"I feel guilty all the time. Guilty that I am not there, guilty that I can have a hot shower and they can't, guilty that I am here tonight having a drink with my friends".
Event organiser and Jade Tavern manager Paul Walker said social media sites were crucial in bringing people together.
"A lot of people here feel very removed and helpless" he said. "This fundraiser was something immediate we could do."
All Blacks Sydney Supporters Club member Warren Mathieson said the expats might not live in the country but they were still proud of it.
"We get emotional about rugby and we get emotional about our people being hurt."