The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

New Zealand Earthquake

A magnitude 7.8 severe earthquake struck 15 km north-east of Culverden on Monday, 14 November 2016 and caused serious damage to communitiesin the South Island, including Kaikōura.

The epicentre of the earthquake was near the northern-most part of the Christchurch diocese and the southern-most part of the Wellington Archdiocese, and communities on both the South and North islands of New Zealand were impacted.


Kaikōura was one of the worst affected areas and was cut off following the earthquake, access is still limited in places. In December 2017, Cardinal John Dew, who was in Rome during the earthquake, visited Kaikōura with a message of support from Pope Francis.

He travelled to Kaikōura with Caritas' Julianne Hickey and some staff from the Wellington Archdiocese to spend time listening to the stories of the people there. They took boxes of fresh vegetables which had been hard to come by since the quake.


A number of buildings in the Wellington region were seriously damaged by the quakes, and some have since been demolished. There is still ongoing repair and strengthening work being done around the city.

Caritas/ Diocesan response

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is continuing to support the response led by the affected dioceses - Christchurch and Wellington.

The Archdiocese of Wellington, with the support of Wellington Catholic Social Services and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, is supporting the community of Kaikōura through Te Tai o Marokura, the social services organisation based at Takahanga marae. The Archdiocese has an existing relationship with the whānau at Takahanga, which is a marae with a Catholic character.

Caritas has an existing relationship with Te Tai o Marokura through the Caritas tangata whenua programme, and a historic relationship through the work of Fr John Curnow with the Kahu whānau of Ngāti Kurī.

Caritas supported the assessment of needs of the client base of Te Tai o Marokura of 450 people, and we are working to ensure the continuation of the advocacy and budget service of Te Tai o Marokura, which lost government funding recently.

The people of Kaikōura need long term accompaniment to rebuild and recover from this disaster, and the economic impact of the loss of income from tourism has had an impact on local social services. Social services in Kaikōura have been funded by profits from Whale Watch, which have been returned to the community.


We received many emails in solidarity and prayer from members of the Caritas Confederation, including Caritas Oceania, Caritas Tonga, Caritas PNG, Caritas Australia, Caritas Jerusalem, CRS, Caritas Nepal, Caritas Iraq, CAFOD and Caritas Internationalis.

Donations for the affected communities in the Christchurch diocese can be directed to the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch.

Donations for the affected communities in the Wellington Archdiocese (particularly in Kaikōura and Marlborough) are being received by Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. These funds are being disbursed in consultation with Cardinal John and his Archdiocesan team.

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust