clockOn the 24th of December this year it will be 1,921 days since the first group of earthquake affected community leaders met in Brendon Burns’ office to discuss how we could get better communication happening with the recovery officials. We were a group of about 15 and we came from Avonside, Horseshoe Lake, Dallington, Bexley, Brooklands, Kaiapoi, Riverside and the Inner City, and we also had a couple of helpful politicians whose homes were knackered and who fully understood our plight. Avondale was staying quiet about their damage to protect equity in homes but it wasn’t too long before they joined us too. The floodgates opened after the February quake and we swelled to 40 member groups.

The Canterbury Communities’ Earthquake Recovery Network was established on that evening and it wasn’t long before residents and officials knew the group CanCERN. Five years later, and the job, although not complete, is finishing for CanCERN. At the end of this year we will wind up the organisation and put some energy into capturing and sharing the many important lessons we have learned. It is also likely that our very successful Breakthrough service will continue with the same people leading it but not under the CanCERN banner.

There are many, many people who we need to thank before we leave and we hope to get through the list in upcoming newsletters. However, there is one small group of people that need a big mention that won’t get lost in too many words, so we want to honour them first. This small group has given so much and asked for nothing in return and they are our amazing funders.

We have had great support over the years from different organisations – Sharp NZ, GAMA Foundation, the Rata Foundation (formerly Canterbury Community Trust), Rotary, Community Energy Action and CERA who financially contributed to projects such as In the Know and Let’s Find & Fix. Their contribution to CanCERN was driven by a desire to see the resident voice represented in recovery. On behalf of board, staff, members, and the wider community, we thank them for their generous contribution and commitment to community-led recovery.

We have also been incredibly lucky to have long-term core funding from the Tindall Foundation, the Todd Foundation and the Hugh Green Foundation. We honestly cannot say enough about these family foundations who have over the last five years collectively donated more than $1 million to CanCERN. They have demonstrated incredible trust in our organisation and an absolute commitment to the affected people of Canterbury. Each has provided the staff of CanCERN with amazing support which goes well beyond just money.

We have to tip our hats to a couple of heroes from within the Tindall and Todd Foundations.

daveDave Richards from the Tindall Foundation has been our main man and he has challenged, nurtured, taught, and most of all, encouraged us. Dave had a belief in the staff and what CanCERN was trying to achieve and made us better for his involvement. He’s a top bloke and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.  His simple reliance on a Nokia mobile phone from the 90s is testament to the values of the Tindall Foundation because meeting face to face always superseded phone calls and emails. Like Dave, Stephen Tindall and his family made time to meet and genuinely connect with us.  The importance of Tindall’s core value of relationship building is something that all funders should not overlook.

kateKate Frykberg, formerly of the Todd Foundation was another great friend to CanCERN. Kate’s passion for making funding more responsive to community need is something we fully supported and appreciated. Kate encouraged us to be true to what we were trying to achieve, to have faith in our intuition, and to look after ourselves in the process. We want to say a massive thanks to Kate for being such a sincere believer in us and the importance of our work.

The role of philanthropy in the response and recovery has been astounding and much of it goes unnoticed. Without the generous support of many funding organisations, the community would really have been on its own. So from us at CanCERN and on behalf of all of our members who have benefited from the generosity of our funders, we say thanks.