Prime Minister and Mayor come to UC to say thank you

Published by Communications and Development

15 September 2010

Prime Minister John Key has broken his self-imposed rule against endorsing election candidates and has told the University of Canterbury student who led a post-earthquake clean-up that he hopes he is successful in next month’s local body elections.

Sam Johnson, who is standing to be elected to the Christchurch City Council’s Riccarton-Wigram Community Board, organised a 1000-strong team of student volunteers to help Canterbury residents affected by this month’s quake.

Prime Minister's visit
(From left) Opshop lead singer Jason Kerrison, Auckland music promoter Paul Ellis, Prime Minister John Key, UC student Sam Johnson and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a function held at UC this afternoon to recognise the students’ contribution.

Mr Key told them they had helped people when they were in their darkest hours.

“At the worst of times you see the best of New Zealand. You are the best of New Zealand.”

Speaking directly to Sam about his political aspirations, the PM said: “Well done, good luck, I hope you win.” Adding that the Prime Ministerial endorsement meant he was in a “club of one”.

“If you lose, don’t blame me. But one day you might be prime minister of New Zealand too.”

The mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, said there were a lot of people in Christchurch who were still “up against it” and that the students’ work was not done.

But he said it was remarkable what they had achieved.

“One of the brightest moments was when all of you decided to join Sam and go out and do something.

“We’d go out to places where you all had been and people would tell us ‘we’ve had the students out here to help us clean up our street’.”

Mr Parker told the students that the Christchurch City Council would be donating 240 tickets to the upcoming concert at AMI Stadium by American rock band Metallica to the student group as a token of the city’s appreciation.

The mayor also announced details of a free public concert to be held in Hagley Park on 23 October that would feature performances by Opshop, The Feelers, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga and others.

Opshop lead singer Jason Kerrison, who was at today’s function, said the student volunteers had inspired him and his bandmates to think about how they could contribute to the city’s recovery.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr said the students had made the University and wider community proud, commending Sam for his leadership during Canterbury’s “time of need”.

The PM, the mayor and Opshop’s Jason Kerrison autographed shovels that had been used in the clean-up that will be auctioned online to raise funds for the Christchurch mayoral fund.

For further information please contact:

John MacDonald
Community Relations Manager
University of Canterbury
Ph: +64 3 364 2910
Mobile: 021 417 289