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Dunedin to open 'Christchurch Embassy'
21 February 2011

A "Christchurch Embassy" is opening in Dunedin to help businesses, visitors and individuals from the quake-stricken city who come to the southern city.

Dunedin City Council met today and pledged an initial fund of $250,000 to Christchurch.

Mayor Dave Cull said council had also authorised an arrival point for Christchurch people coming to Dunedin, in vacated bar and restaurant space in the northern wing of the Dunedin Railway Station.

"We're going to be one of the centres having a whole lot of people arriving: businesses, people who are displaced," Cull said.

"We're the biggest other city in the South Island so it stands to reason we'll have a lot.

"We're going to have an influx of need, all sorts of needs.

"So to that end I have authorised the setting up of what we're calling a Christchurch Embassy.

"We want everyone from Christchurch coming into Dunedin to register there so we know they are here and what they need."

Cull said the embassy idea came out of a steering committee formed at a post-quake community group response meeting held last week.

It would serve as a referral point for the arrivals, sort of a refuge centre, and be staffed by a range of volunteers and agencies including Dunedin Council of Social Services, Neighbourhood Support, Red Cross and Civil Defence and government departments.

Embassy operations were being coordinated by an appointed liaison officer, DCC community advisor Mike Laufiso.

"The council is facilitating it, but it's a community effort," Cull said.

It is unknown how many Cantabrians have moved south, but anecdotally the number is thought to be well into the thousands.

Dunedin police emergency response commander Inspector Alastair Dickie, who is in Christchurch, said it was estimated 10,000 people a day had left Christchurch in the first three days after the quake.

"When I came up there was a steady stream of traffic heading south. An Oamaru motelier said he had turned a number seeking accommodation away."

Dunedin is to host a Quake Rally in the Octagon tomorrow, starting at 12.15pm. The crowd attending will be invited to sing You'll Never Walk Alone as part of the event.

"I want all of Dunedin to be there in the same way individuals would support any bereaved friend or neighbour," Cull said.


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