Millions of dollars raised in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings – separate from the Victim Support cash – will provide medium to long-term support for Muslim victims, it's been revealed today.
The Christchurch Foundation, which has been receiving money since the day after the March 15 attack, says today marks the start of its activities to support the victims and the Muslim communities of Christchurch now that Victim Support has finished distributing its donations.
More than 18,000 gifts, ranging in size from less than $1 through to more than $2 million, flooded in, Foundation chief executive Amy Carter says.
There is currently $5m in its Our People, Our City fund and if all of the organisations and individuals that have pledged money to the fund send it, it will contain well in excess of $6m.
Four days after the attack, The Christchurch Foundation met with members of the local Muslim communities, alongside Victim Support and other organisations.
At the meeting, the foundation gave assurances that it would focus on the medium to long-term support of the families and the wider Muslim communities of Christchurch.
It also said it would begin the process of distributing the Our People, Our City funds after Victim Support had finished distributing the donations they had received.
And it also vowed that local members of the Muslim communities would be involved in making decisions about how the money is best used.
Now, it has appointed outgoing city councillor and chair of the United Nations Association of New Zealand Canterbury Charitable Trust Raf Manji to chair an advisory group. He will be joined by four or five members from Christchurch's Muslim communities, and a trustee of The Christchurch Foundation, to make recommendations to the trustees as to the best use of the money. Their appointments will be announced at the end of next month, with their first meeting in early August.
The advisory group's terms of reference says it must ensure that the longer-term needs are met, with an emphasis on education and training of the children of those who were killed or severely injured.
Carter says a range of experts and advisers may be asked to provide additional support.
The high-level outcomes of the recent consultation undertaken with the victims by Victim Support, and other information collated from around the world, will also be provided to the group, she added.
Manji said he is privileged to chair the advisory board.
"It is important that the next stage of donated funds distribution involves the affected families and communities," he said.
"Our job will be to listen, collate that feedback and present a set of recommendations to the trustees of the Foundation that will provide the best possible outcomes for the wider community."
Carter said The Christchurch Foundation has also received several large gifts from corporates and individuals outside of the fund, totaling almost $4m, which have donor requests attached to them that require the distribution of money in certain ways or to certain groups of people.
Distributions will begin in July and Carter says details will be shared publicly.
Victim Support's Givealittle page raised more than $2m in the first two days and was closed on May 30, having reached a total of $10.7m from more than 100,000 donors.
While more than $7m has already been paid out in the "emergency phase", over the past month Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso has met more than half of the 291 victims currently on the police list to hear their views on how the rest should be distributed.
However, some victims have expressed concern at how the money has been distributed.
Abdul Aziz, widely hailed as a hero for confronting the alleged gunman and chasing him away from Linwood Islamic Centre where seven people were killed, is leading a protest outside Christchurch MP Megan Woods' electorate office this afternoon.
"They're giving money to only the injured and the deceased," he said after the alleged gunman's last court appearance.
He said that everybody at the two mosques on March 15 are victims and shouldn't be treated any differently.
"Victims should not be categorised - victims are victims," Aziz said.
"Outside wounds you can see, inside wounds you cannot see."
Aziz has called for an audit to check where all of the money raised by the different groups in the wake of the tragedy is going.