Kiwis organise Christmas concert for typhoon-ravaged families

By Patrice Dougan

A Christmas concert organised by New Zealanders has been held for struggling families in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.

Last weekend's event in the heart of the disaster zone was watched by more than 5000 Filipinos, said Christchurch businessman, Phil Cooper, who helped plan the concert.

"Cantabrians have a unique connection with the Philippines so it was a privilege to be able to deliver some joy and Christmas cheer to the battered residents of Tacloban," he said.

"A Christchurch kapa haka group supported a range of local artists to deliver several hours of entertainment and laughter in a carnival atmosphere.

"The concert contrasted the human and physical devastation all around us caused by Typhoon Haiyan and provided an important focus on the strength of the human spirit."

Mr Cooper runs BuildTech Holdings, a company which employs close to 80 Filipinos involved in the Christchurch rebuild.

An estimated 6000 Filipinos are working in Canterbury, and many are employed in the residential and commercial rebuild of the city.

"Not only do we share a common understanding of the destructive forces of nature, but we have a large Filipino workforce helping Canterbury recover," Mr Cooper said.

"The opportunity to reach out and contribute something special to the Philippines - in addition to huge public response of money, food and essential items from New Zealanders - was overwhelming."

Funding for the free concert was provided by a number of Canterbury construction companies, online magazine World Changing, and the Christchurch Mayor's office.

- APNZ

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