Embassy official seeks extra compensation for Chinese victims

9:42 pm on 14 March 2011

The Government has been told it should provide extra compensation for the families of Chinese people killed by the Christchurch earthquake.

More than 50 students are believed to have died in the collapse of the CTV building, many of them Chinese.

The head of the Chinese embassy's disaster relief centre, Cheng Lei, says because of China's one-child policy, parents have lost both a loved one and a major source of income after their retirement.

He says the Government should give economic assistance above what's available under provisions such as ACC.

Mr Cheng says that would demonstrate the importance attached to the Chinese students based in this country, and those who may wish to come here in the future.

But Tertiary Minister Stephen Joyce says it would be difficult for the Government to step outside of the usual means of compensation to make a special case for the Chinese earthquake victims.

He told Morning Report there is help in the form of ACC and other Government assistance and all the students were insured.

"Fair", say schools

The peak industry body representing English language schools says the Government is being fair and compassionate to the families of foreign students victims.

English New Zealand chairman Rob McKay says it's a difficult issue but he feels the Government is being fair to all nationalities.

Mr McKay believes up to half of foreign students studying English in Christchurch left the city, although some are now returning.

Relatives upset at delays in ID

The Chinese Embassy says relatives of some of the 24 Chinese people still missing following the Christchurch earthquake are frustrated by the long wait for bodies to be identified.

Family members of all but one of the missing have flown to New Zealand in the past two weeks.

The head of the Chinese embassy's disaster relief centre, Cheng Lei, says the time it's taking to confirm the identity of victims is distressing for them.

He says while he understands their emotions, he has urged them to rely on the work of the identification teams involved.

Mr Cheng says China has sent a small group of DNA experts to New Zealand, to help speed up the process.