Eight hundred return flights to and from Hawke’s Bay are being offered to the people of Christchurch if they “need a break”.
The Hastings District Council and Napier District Council each put up $50,000 and brokered a deal with Air New Zealand which would see all 800 return flights provided for free.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, who has recently returned from Christchurch, said around 850 Hawke’s Bay homes had offered space for Cantabrians and along with the flights, the region could provide relief at zero cost.
“The last time we gave $250,000 but because of the cost of repair [after this earthquake] we didn’t think cash was best. Some people just need a break and we thought we could basically offer free transport and accommodation.”
After surveying the damage Mr Yule realised the best that could be done immediately was offering those staying in Christchurch the ability to get away if need be.
“We are trying to make a genuine effort to improve these people’s lives in this difficult time. We’re trying to help them in their hour of need.”
A team of six will man a database comparing those wanting a break from Christchurch with those offering accommodation to ensure both parties suit the needs of each other.
“We are getting the message out that in the weeks and months to come, if the pressure gets too much they can come up here.
“The response has built up from yesterday to today but this is a long-term plan for us.
Eighty people are on the way so far.”
Families who are stuck in Christchurch will be the highest priority, though all are encouraged to apply.
For more information, visit http://svy.mk/gmrCWg.