NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I will start by paying tribute to the New Zealand men, women, and children who lost their lives on 22 February. I also pay tribute to the overseas citizens who lost their lives. I think many of us would acknowledge that the earthquake has been a pretty horrific tragedy for this country, and many New Zealanders might not have lost someone but will know of someone who has been lost. But in such a time of tragedy we have also seen some extraordinary New Zealanders step up. To mention just a few, I know that so many New Zealanders around the country have offered anything from a bed to some linen and some food. I acknowledge all of those New Zealanders who have stepped up.
We have also seen some extraordinary leadership come through. The Student Volunteer Army has captured the respect of the nation. I think those students have also captured the pride of the nation. One of the things about this crisis is that sometimes it takes an extraordinary crisis to change the values of a nation. That is one of the positive things that could come from this.
Everybody has a story. A lady walked into my office recently who had not known that her husband was travelling to Christchurch on the day of the earthquake. He was actually working in the Pyne Gould building. Fortunately for her—and for him—he had popped out for a coffee. So that day he lived, but he was one of the lucky ones. Her story is not unique; many people around New Zealand are sharing those stories, and I think that is a really important part of the process.
Finally, I pay tribute to the New Zealand armed forces. I had the opportunity, with our Minister of Defence, to be on board HMNZS Canterbury and to see the extraordinary support that our New Zealand armed forces were giving to the people of Canterbury. It really made me reflect, as I hope many other members of Parliament will do, on the huge contribution that our armed forces are making in Canterbury at this time.
I am very pleased to support the Canterbury Earthquake Commemoration Day Bill. I acknowledge that even though there has been an extraordinary tragedy, so many New Zealanders around the country are stepping up in every possible way, and that is making a huge difference to the lives of so many New Zealanders, particularly the people of Canterbury.