Nepal and New Zealand: Wars, Mountains and Quakes

April 27, 2015

The item below was written on 23 April for delivery at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Christchurch Sunrise on 24 April, at which the club hosted 6 Gurkha Army officers in Christchurch for the 100th centenary commemoration of the Anzac landings in Gallipoli. The next day, ANZAC Day, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, with the epicentre near Gorkha, the home of the Gurkhas.

The New Zealand Himalayan Trust, mentioned in the item, is requesting urgent donations to help the people of Nepal, with whom we Kiwis have strong links.

If you would like to help please go to 

Wrap Up- Rotary Club of Christchurch Sunrise  meeting 24/4/15

With our six special Gurkha soldier guests joining us this morning we can reflect on Rotary’s international reach and our club’s military connections via some members past and present as we prepare to commemorate tomorrow the 100th anniversary of the military catastrophe at Gallipoli.

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the Gurkhas’ special role in the British Army and international peacekeeping.  Gurkhas fought  bravely alongside New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli and Cassino, among other battles.

To cap it off this year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the origin of the Parliamentary rights and free speech we take for granted in this country.

New Zealand has a mountaineering as well as a military special relationship with Nepal. In 1953 Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stood at the top of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. The work of the Himalayan Education Trust came out of that climbing partnership.

For most of us in this room the earthquakes of 2010 – 11 are the nearest we have come to facing the natural equivalent of a war. From both past wars and past disasters we can learn powerful lessons from the past as we rebuild the future.

Our seismic shakeup brought about big changes to the lie of the land in Canterbury, both physical and metaphorical.

At the end of March I ran our fourth annual Seismics and the City forum for representatives of public, private and community sector organisations engaged in the rebuilding of Greater Christchurch in the wake of the quakes.

The 2015 theme was Creating a Greater ChristchurchSketching the Bigger Picture. It connected the dots on a broad canvas and provided rare opportunities for cross-sector feedback, input and knowledge sharing at a time when the countdown has finally started for the transition of the recovery process from centralised control to more local ownership of issues and solutions.

Speakers included Hon. Nicky Wagner, Associate Earthquake Recovery Minister, Canterbury;  Russell Stanners, CEO Vodafone; Ian Simpson,  EQC; Peter Townsend, CECC; Joanna Norris, The Press;  John Ombler, CERA;  Raf Manji, CCC;  David Ayers, Mayor, Waimakariri; Stephen Collins and Nick Hunt, Investors;  Brian Parker, Spokesperson, CanCERN;  Corinne Haines, MD, Trimble; and Neil Cox, Theatre Royal.

We also had some amazing young people, including Barnaby Bennett, co-editor of ‘Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster’, which had some very timely comments about the need for us to meet in the middle:  “The success or failure of high-level institutional or community-led responses can be spun by either side to show that their way is the best way. Generally, it’s the interface between the two – the mess in the middle – where things really happen.”

We also heard the aspirations of three other young people for a renewed Christchurch and their goals for their own contribution to it. Blair Chapell,  who graduated from the CPIT on conference day had already started his own IT company linked to construction boom in Christchurch. Meagan Veitch,  a student at the University of Canterbury decided to go teaching as a result of the quakes. Tom Beaumont, through his early stage startup CleanStreams, is developing software which assists New Zealand’s agricultural industry to mitigate surface water pollution arising from farming activities. (Tom recently completed his Masters of Engineering Management via Piet Beukman’s programme).

We also had secondary and tertiary students, working on the EVOLOCITY electric vehicle project with local businesses, demonstrating what an electrifying vehicle for young talent and innovation this project, co-ordinated by Miranda Satterthwaite, CPIT, really is!

Among some ho-hum new post -quake buildings some designs stand out like the newly started Vodafone South Island headquarters in the Innovation Precinct , the completed Stephen Collins  ‘Deloitte’ ripple glass building in Durham Street  and the new Trimble building featuring seismic sensing technology and flexibly strong high-tech wood technology emanating from research at the University of Canterbury.

It would be a wasted opportunity to do things in the same old way in new buildings.  The young people I’ve mentioned and others like them have creativity and innovation in their DNA and they are our future.

Let Meagan Veitch the last word: “I think the opportunity we have in Christchurch post- earthquake is wildly exciting and full of potential as to pave the way for a brighter future in a time of rebuild, reconstruction and building back hope and enthusiasm in our community in Christchurch. I believe that we have a rare chance to pull people together, [and] work towards joining our community and neighbourhoods…”

Videos of the plenary sessions at Seismics and the City 2015 are available at YouTube . Slide presentations can be reviewed at SlideShare. Media items and at Print Media Coverage

Lyall Lukey 24 April 2015

PS If you would like to help Nepalese people affected by the earthquake of 25 April go to