Staff at an infrastructure company in Gisborne have closed a gap of more than 9000 kilometres for one of their workmates, who has been desperate with worry for his family ever since Sunday's big earthquake in Chile.

Cristopher Navarro - "Chile" to his workmates at Fulton Hogan - comes from Pichilemu, a coastal town three hours from the earthquake's epicentre.

His concern for his mother, father, sister and other family and friends had been heightened as he has not been able to contact them.

Seeing his pain, his workmates swung into action.

When labour pool and transport manager Denise Tapp found out he was trying to get home, she put the word out and within a day the crew contributed $4370.

The total included contributions from the company, the staff social club, their union and a fellow contractors working on one of the company's sites. One staff member even came in with a $100 contribution from his church.

Their generosity overwhelmed the humble traffic controller, who has been working here for two years and eight months.

"It makes me proud to be a Kiwi...," he said.

For now, all he wants is to go home and see how he can help his homeless family rebuild.

Although neither he nor his younger brother Jose have been able to contact their family, Mr Navarro has heard there have been no deaths officially reported in his town from either the earthquake or the tsunami that followed it, but most of the buildings were destroyed by the tsunami.

His own family home is only a five-minute walk from the beach, he said.

He hopes to have enough money to take his brother, who has been working in the fields to raise the money.

But they have to wait another six long days for the journey home, because flights at short notice cost twice as much.

"I just want to go home and see my mother and my aunties and help them to start again," he said.

The long journey home starts on Thursday with a one-hour flight from Gisborne to Auckland, a 14-hour flight Auckland to Buenos Aires, Argentina, a four-hour wait for another flight to Mendoza and then a 10-hour bus trip over the Andes and into Chile.

- NZPA