Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Philippine Ambassador reiterates Filipino People's gratitude to Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand

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Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez made a courtesy call on the Right Honourable John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand on 21 January 2014 at the Prime Minister’s Office to personally convey the best wishes of President Benigno S. Aquino III and reiterate the Philippine Government’s and the Filipino People’s heartfelt gratitude to the Government and People of New Zealand for the generous and gratifying groundswell of sympathy, support and solidarity after super typhoon Haiyan ravaged Central Philippines last year. Words will never be enough to thank countless New Zealanders for the outpouring of the goodness and generosity and care and compassion which gave comfort, strength and hope to recover and rebuild what nature’s wrath has laid to waste.

Prime Minister Key warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez and was pleased to hear about the latest developments in the multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional reconstruction and rehabilitation in the Visayas region. He also acknowledged the continuing important roles and contributions of 40,350 Filipinos in New Zealand.

As a token of appreciation, Ambassador Benavidez presented to Prime Minister Key a painting by Paco Gorospe, a leading Filipino artist, depicting fishermen casting their net and catching bountiful fish. It is especially meaningful as among those affected by the unprecedented devastation are the fishing communities who are now being assisted in the on-going restoration of livelihood in the massively affected areas. Prime Minister Key thanked Ambassador Benavidez and admired the painting which he said would be hung in an appropriate place in the Parliament. Ambassador Benavidez also presented a special thank you message from the Filipino community who were deeply moved by the overflowing kindness and overwhelming support from the people of New Zealand.

Prime Minister Key gave a signed picture frame of the Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules plane which was sent immediately to provide the much needed airlift and logistical support delivering tonnes of relief supplies and equipment and evacuating a large number of survivors to Cebu. In expressing her deep appreciation, Ambassador Benavidez said that the Prime Minister’s gift is a much treasured one that will always be a grateful reminder of New Zealand’s humanitarian mission and assistance in the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

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