A pledge of $2.1 million has been made to survivors of the Christchurch terror attack by international associates of a Chinese businessman who found himself in the centre of the Jami Lee Ross political storm in 2018.
On Friday evening Auckland mayor Phil Goff was invited to attend a dinner for Teochew delegates who had arrived in Auckland for the 20th Convention of Teochew International Federation held this weekend.
Goff arrived late due to a meeting with the New Zealand Police and the Muslim community over the attacks in Christchurch which had happened just hours earlier.
The attacks left 50 people dead with another 34 still in hospital, 12 of them in critical condition.
When Goff explained to his hosts why he was late, the delegates together pledged nearly $500,000 for the victims. That sum has since grown to $2.1m.
Teochew are a people from the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong province in Southern China. There are more than 50 million people of Teochew descent around the world.
One of those is Yikun Zhang, the Chinese businessman who former National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross alleged made a $100,000 donation to National Party leader Simon Bridges that was unlawfully handled.
It has since become subject of police investigation into electoral fraud.
Zhang has never spoken publicly about the allegations but Bridges has vehemently denied them.
Not long before the alleged donation was made Zhang became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to New Zealand-China relations, which had been largely through the Chao Shan General Association of New Zealand, of which Zhang is founder and chairman.
The Chao Shan General Association of New Zealand is responsible for bringing the 20th Convention of Teochew International Federation to New Zealand.
About 1000 Teochew were expected to attend the conference, being held from March 17 to 19 and supported by Auckland Council and Tourism New Zealand.
The $2.1m donation will go to the Christchurch Foundation fund “Our People, Our City” set-up by Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel, to help raise money to support the families and Muslim communities impacted by the terror attack.
Goff said: “This is an extraordinarily generous offer to the people of Christchurch and the Muslim community from a small community in New Zealand and the international delegates at their conference.
“This is on top of the amazing generosity we have seen from Kiwis all over New Zealand to support the victims of this horrible attack.”
More than $6m has also been raised for victims of the Christchurch terror attacks across three other fundraisers.
Zhang can be seen in photos captured as a $50,000 cheque is being presented to Goff.
This is not the first time Teochew have helped Christchurch at a time of crisis.
After the 2011 Christchurch earthquake Aucklander Thanh Tran, president of New Zealand Teochew Nang Association Incorporated, and an associate, presented a $45,000 cheque to Christchurch mayor Bob Parker for the Red Cross quake relief fund.
Tran was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2018 for services to philanthropy and Asian communities.
The Chao Shan General Association of New Zealand has earlier said it often makes donations to New Zealand organisations, including two ambulances to St Johns worth $310,000 as well as donations to Dementia Auckland and mental health organisation Framework Services.
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