London: thousands of New Zealanders attend service for earthquake victims

Ngati Ranana - image Wikipedia

Ngati Ranana - image Wikipedia

Never before have so many New Zealanders in London been gathered under one roof. On Wednesday evening, 1,500 were seated very quickly in Westminster Cathedral,  with another 1,000 around the side chapels and a further 1,000 or so outside in the piazza.

Canon Christopher Tuckwell  from the Cathedral welcomed everyone and led the opening prayers. The Maori choir Ngati Ranana  sang 'How Great Thou Art'  both in Maori and English.  There was a scripture reading from Ecclesiastes 3:1-14  'for everything there is a season,  and a time for every matter under heaven...'

The New Zealand High Commissioner, Derek Leask, welcomed all fellow New Zealanders and read a message from the New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, and then spoke himself about the courage of those who worked tirelessly to rescue as many survivors as they could and how a rescue team had arrived from the UK to help and support the team in New Zealand.  There was mention of how resilient New Zealanders are in the face of a crisis.  They are a people of hope and a people who will rebuild their lives and who will rebuild their city.

There had been so many offers of help from all over the world which was very gratifying, the High Commissioner said.

There followed, after a hymn sung in Maori,  “Hareruia”,  a two minute silence.

Former Councillor, Paddy Austin, read some personal reflections  from some Christchurch residents.  All of them, no matter what adversity they had faced, were glad to be alive.  One resident said that she never thought in her whole life that she and her family would end up sleeping in a tent at the bottom of their garden, eating cold tinned food, washing from a bowl and having to use a bucket as a toilet.   She said that it was a humbling experience but she and her family were so lucky to be alive even though they had lost their house and their possessions.

After the bidding prayers, Hayley Westenra led the New Zealand National Anthem   E Ihowa Atua   God of Nations at Thy feet, In the bonds of love we meet, Hear our voices, we entreat, God defend our free land. Guard Pacific’s triple star, from the shafts of strife and war, Make her praises heard afar, God defend New Zealand.

The service concluded with a prayer and a final blessing.   The whole event was very moving and it was so gratifying to see so many New Zealanders present really feeling and wanting to show solidarity for their fellow country folk .    Donations were coming in aplenty for the Red Cross as well.

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