Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

World leaders, including President-elect Donald Trump, call John Key following earthquake

Prime Minister John Key said several world leaders had contacted him about the earthquakes, including an attempt by US President-elect Donald Trump.

Key told Newshub it was important to try to stop earthquakes impacting on the tourism industry.

"I do slightly worry about earthquakes because the news travels around the world, this is a big one - 7.5. A lot of leaders around the world that I know contacted me so they're seeing it on their TV sets."

Speaking on Mike Hosking Breakfastthis morning, Key said United States President-elect Donald Trump had tried to call him yesterday.

"That's the message I got. I didn't see it but he's been trying to hook up.

"I suspect the combination of just wanting to make that first call and I'm sure they would have got reports of what had happened."

Trump didn't leave a number but Key said he had a number for him and expected the call would happen today or tomorrow.

Key said he would congratulate Trump.

"I know the protests and all that stuff but it was a general election and he won. Everyone might not like it but he won fair and square.

"I think we have to put our best foot forward and I'm going to work with him like I would have worked with Hillary if she'd been president."

Key said he would raise the TPP with Trump.

"I will say to him 'look, if you take a step back, I think that TPP was very much about US leadership in the region'. I still strongly believe the United States still gains more than it actually gives from free trade and I'd urge him when he gets a chance to sit back and get some advice on how we might be able to progress it."

The Hungarian President was also in Wellington yesterday and Key said he had never felt an earthquake in his life.

Key said it was important to show the international community that New Zealand was well equipped to withstand earthquakes and cope with the aftermath.

"We need to make sure those people go away and say as terrible as it was, the New Zealanders were brilliant. And that was the experience out of Christchurch."

Key believed New Zealand was capable of dealing with the quakes and aftermath.

State Highway Seven from Picton to Christchurch is open for trucks. Key had received advice that State Highway 70 to Kaikoura would be opened relatively quickly.

But he would be "absolutely staggered" if State Highway One opened any time soon, as there were huge slips and thousands of rubble above it. He believed it might be found that rebuilding it in the same place "might not be the smartest thing to do".

"The Manawatu Gorge took longer than people thought... and there's lots of Manawatu Gorges."

Key believed the closure of State Highway One was a real problem for Kaikoura.

"In the short term we can get people out... but Kaikoura is a tourist town. While people can get through on State Highway 70, it's not the same as coming up State Highway One."
He expected repair costs to be high.

Key believed cellular networks were up and running reasonably quickly in Kaikoura yesterday.

However, the temporary failure of the emergency line 111 needed to be reviewed.

"I suppose you ask the question initially that given this is the one lifeline people would call in a major event, a manual switch over feels a bit odd to me.

"The obvious question to ask 'is how earthquake safe are these emergency facilities where people are physically housed?' I do think we'll have to go away and ask some of those more difficult questions."

- NZ Herald

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