Habitat Patron to muck in for Christchurch
Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, the Governor-General of New Zealand, is planning to experience
first-hand Habitat for Humanity New Zealand’s Rebuild Christchurch work in his new role as Patron of the housing charity
and he doesn’t want to be a casual observer.
“His Excellency has specifically requested of Habitat the opportunity to take off his tie, roll up his sleeves, and help
with the repair work when he joins us this Friday 23rd March,” says David Lawson, Habitat’s Marketing and Fundraising
Plans for the day include a morning visit to Habitat’s Breezes Road Baptist purpose-built volunteer base and workshop
and the opportunity to join Habitat staff and volunteers in action at the home of a partner family in the afternoon.
Habitat New Zealand CEO Pete North is delighted that Sir Jerry Mateparae's office has renewed its commitment to
supporting Habitat as patron to the charity for the third time.
“For a small and relatively new charity in New Zealand we are humbled and grateful to receive this nod from the top once
again,” Mr. North says, “Habitat New Zealand has never been afraid to punch above its weight when it comes to tackling
poverty housing whether it’s here in New Zealand or overseas.”
Mr. North is looking forward to showing Sir Jerry Mateparae the charity’s vital work at a grass-roots level in
Christchurch where it is repairing 50 homes in the city’s green zone following the September 2010 and February 2011
earthquakes. In keeping with its objective to help those most vulnerable to substandard housing, the charity is working
with the elderly, single-parent families, the disabled, and the underinsured.
Habitat has received more than a thousand offers from New Zealand and overseas to assist with its rebuild efforts to
date. Volunteers from New Zealand and around the world have included a team from the US Antarctic programme returning
home via Christchurch.
Believing it has a vital role to play in harnessing this goodwill and rebuilding the city, the charity appointed local
builder Paul Galbraith as its Rebuild Christchurch Project Manager and his wife Helen in a part-time capacity as
Volunteer Co-ordinator and Chef. The couple volunteered twice to assist with Habitat New Zealand’s tsunami rebuild work
in Samoa and were not spared from the tragedy of the February 2011 earthquake. Hopelessly trapped under fallen debris in
the Pyne Gould Guinness building, Helen’s brother-in-law Carey died in the arms of his rescuers.
“Paul and Helen are incredible people,” says US volunteer Anne Adele Smith. Describing her week-long experience as
“changing my life in the most meaningful way,” Miss Smith has signed up as a Habitat volunteer following her return home
to San Diego, California.
Mr North hopes Sir Jerry Mateparae will gain a better understanding and appreciation of the Rebuild Christchurch
project’s worth and importance when he visits on Friday.
The Governor-General and party will arrive at 155 Breezes Road, Wainoni, Christchurch at 11 am on Friday 23rd March
where he will be met and welcomed by Pete North, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New Zealand. Key staff of Habitat and
members of Breezes Road Baptist will also be present.
Sir Jerry Mateparae will join the Habitat volunteers in the afternoon at a repair job, where he wants to get a tool belt
on and get stuck in.
Mr. North will accompany His Excellency throughout the day and farewell him.
The Baptist Church in Breezes Road had two houses next door to the church that were not being used. These were offered
to Habitat to use for accommodation for volunteers that come to Christchurch to build. The houses were in a run-down
state and Habitat’s first job was to repair and upgrade them. The church also has a good yard where two containers have
been placed for tool and equipment storage. The kitchen has been upgraded to commercial standards to cater for the
volunteer’s meal requirements.
Funding for the infrastructure has come from Habitat Supporters. Funding for the repairs has come from partner agencies.