Courtesy of the official Wests Tigers website:
Nu Akeripa brings some hope to Christchurch citizens
12/05/2011 11:47:56 AM
On Tuesday 3rd March, I, along with a few other NRL players flew over to Christchurch, New Zealand to raise the spirits of the locals after the devastation of the Earthquakes in February this year.
I was asked to go on the trip by the Club and after injuring my ankle in the first trial game this year and doing rehab every day I jumped at the chance to get away from training for a few days. It wasn’t until I started talking with a few people about the trip that I realised just how important our visit would be to the locals.
I flew over to Christchurch with Sam Perrett & Anthony Cherrington from the Roosters and Chase Stanley from the Storm. We were also with Nathan Cayless who was one of my idols growing up so that was a highlight. It was great to be with a few other Kiwis and share this experience with them.
The reality of the trip hit home when we got to our hotel on the first night. After settling in we went for a quick walk to get some dinner. We were only looking for a restaurant or somewhere where we could relax but there was literally only a couple of shops open in the area so we had to get a quick take out. The rest were still not functioning after the earthquakes which must be devastating for the shop owners being out of business for so long.
On the Wednesday we were up early and off to Christchurch hospital to meet some people who had been injured in the disaster. It was pretty confronting talking to these unfortunate people, especially when they’d tell us that, “I’m one of the lucky ones”, but I guess when about 180 people died in this disaster, they are lucky to be alive.
After leaving there we met Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker who was great to have a chat to. When talking to him you realise how much he has taken this disaster in his stride and provided a rock for the people of Christchurch. A lesser man could certainly not have done this job as well as he has.
While walking down some of the main streets of Christchurch it really hit home how much of a disaster this was. It was astonishing when we were told we were walking on one of the main streets of the city and we were pretty much the only ones on it. It was literally a ghost town.
We stood outside the Christchurch Cathedral which we had seen on TV so many times and it was really surreal to see what destruction had occurred. It was really surreal.
After lunch we went to a displacement centre for people who couldn’t live in their houses anymore because of the damage that had occurred. It was just amazing to hear the high spirits of all these people who were in such hard times.
We finished the day off doing some clinics with local schools which were located just outside the centre of town. Some of the fields that we were on had huge craters in the middle of them and cracks running the whole length where the earthquake had hit.
That night we attended a dinner where about 250 lucky guests were chosen to fly over to the Gold Coast to watch the ANZAC Test that Friday. This was a great thing for the NRL to do especially as the match was meant to be played at AMI Stadium here in Christchurch.
Overall the trip was a real eye opener and I felt very humbled to get the opportunity to support my fellow New Zealanders.