Masons worldwide have rallied round following the earthquake on a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter Scale on New Zealand’s South Island last September.
Geoff Rowe, District Grand Master, South Island, set up a special relief fund to assist Brethren in need as well as sending a substantial contribution to the Mayoral Fund in Christchurch which will go towards helping those most in need.
The first message he received after the event was from the Provincial Grand Master of the Irish Provincial Grand Lodge in New Zealand. Subsequently, there were responses from the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong, Singapore, Discovery Lodge in Vanuatu, the District Grand Lodge North Island, Irish and English lodges and individuals.
The cost of repairs has been estimated at £930 million and about 100,000 of the 160,000 homes in the Christchurch and surrounding areas were damaged.
Christchurch, the country’s second largest city, has a population of 386,000, but miraculously there were no fatalities. The epicentre of the earthquake was about 19 miles from the city centre.
New Zealand has more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which only about 20 have a magnitude in excess of 5.0. In this earthquake, one side of the earth lurched to the right up to 11 feet. The devastation was caused by a fault in the earth’s crust – the Pacific Plate meeting the Australasian Plate. There was further devastation resulting from around 2,000 aftershocks.
In response, the Freemasons’ Grand Charity approved an emergency grant of £10,000 to the District Grand Lodge of South Island, which was directed to the Mayor of Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity also offered to assist any of the 340 individual Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England, plus widows or their other dependants, who have been affected by these events, through Masonic Relief Grants to assist with their immediate needs.