News Release

'Mormon Helping Hands’ Volunteers Assist Kiwi Families Displaced by Quake

Many families displaced by Monday’s 7.8 earthquake in rural and remote North Canterbury are finding temporary refuge in the closest Maori maraes outside the damaged areas. (A marae is a communal place that serves religious, social and humanitarian purposes in Polynesian societies.)

The Maahunui marae, currently housing and feeding over 50 people,  needed hygiene supplies yesterday for newly arrived families and those expected to arrive in the days and weeks to come.

"Mormon Helping Hands" volunteers in Christchurch quickly responded to the need by purchasing the necessary supplies, then assembling and delivering personal hygiene kits.


Standing outside the marae, Suzanne Pitama, the senior local leader in the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Christchurch, paused with emotion when asked why she and other Church members are so anxious to help those displaced by the recent earthquake.

“Our motto is ‘Charity Never Faileth’,” she said.  “Accordingly the Relief Society, one of the largest and oldest women’s organizations in the world, is always about serving and uplifting those in need.”

But assisting earthquake victims yesterday in Christchurch was a special and emotional experience, according to President Pitama.

“This was us five years ago.  We know what it is like to have our lives turned upside down.”

Christchurch was rocked by devastating earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011, then rattled by thousands of aftershocks for over a year.  Much of the downtown area and several thousand homes were destroyed. Tens of thousands of people were displaced and 185 lost their lives.

“Those living in North Canterbury weren’t affected during the Christchurch earthquakes," Pitama says, "and they rushed food and necessities into Christchurch when we were without the basics. This is an opportunity to reciprocate in a small way.”

Yesterday the personal hygiene kits included: soap, towel and washcloth, toothpaste and toothbrush, haircare products, tissues, shaving cream and razors, lotion, and feminine supplies where needed.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often wearing their familiar bright yellow ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ shirts and vests, can be found across New Zealand and around the world performing service in local communities and helping individuals in need.


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.