Co-operatives respond to New Zealand earthquake

Co-operatives in New Zealand have pulled together following the powerful earthquake in the country earlier this week.

The 6.3-magnitude quake struck the city of Christchurch, on the country’s south island, on February 22nd.

Fonterra — the dairy co-operative — has donated $1 million to the Red Cross Christchurch earthquake appeal and they have launched a Fonterra Earthquake Relief Fund to enable their 10,500 farmer members and 16,000 staff to make personal donations, which will be matched $1 for $1 by the co-operative up to a further $1 million. The co-operative has also sent million litres of water from their Clandeyboye site to schools around Christchurch, and UHT milk and bottled water has been shipped to relief centres in Christchurch.

The majority of stores operated by the retail group Foodstuffs are open and has managed to put in place an effective supply chain of essential items. Out of 36 stores on the south island, only six remain closed due to damage from the quake.

Foodstuffs South Island CEO Steve Anderson said: "We are committed to feeding Christchurch and wider South Island residents, and are successfully managing to do this during these challenging times."

The New Zealand subsidiary of Dutch co-operative Rabobank has donated $100,000 to the Salvation Army Canterbury earthquake appeal. 

Financial services co-operative PSIS has put together a special banking package with a number of short-term cash management options for members impacted financially by the earthquake.

Bill McLeod, Chair of fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown, reported that members in Christchurch were all well, but sustained severe damage to properties. Said Mr McLeod: "I was actually in the building on the third floor when the quake struck and I can assure you it’s not something I would want to experience again. However, having got all our people out safely is something I will be eternally grateful for. We need to be aware, though, that the trauma will take a lot longer to fix than the buildings."

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, sent a message to co-operators in the country: "On behalf of Co-operatives UK and the UK movement I would like to send you our thoughts and concerns at what must be a very difficult time. We know that in times of crisis the spirit of co-operation comes to the fore. The people of New Zealand are in our thoughts as they work through their personal loss."

Charles Gould, Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance, said: "We know that many of you are concerned about the situation in Christchurch, New Zealand, as the scale and impact of the recent earthquake becomes more clear. Please keep all of the people in New Zealand in your thoughts as they work through their personal loss."

• Ramsey Margolis, Executive Director of the New Zealand Cooperatives Association, has been keeping co-operatives around the world up-to-date on the latest response from the movement through a blog. To read the latest updates visit: http://s.coop/nzquake/

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