CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, 8 June 2011
The Dalai Lama received a standing ovation before delivering an inspirational speech in Christchurch today.
About 5000 people gathered to hear the Tibetan spiritual leader speak at the CBS Canterbury Arena this afternoon.
An arena staff member said people had arrived as early as 8.30am.
The Dalai Lama was welcomed onto the stage by local iwi, and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
About 10 families of earthquake victims had been given special seating near the front of the stage, and the Dalai Lama stopped to embrace family members before addressing the crowd for about 25 minutes.
He said February’s earthquake was a “tragedy beyond control” and it was his duty “as a friend of the city” to visit Christchurch.
“When such tragedy beyond our control happens then faith does happen.”
Christchurch residents now needed to “build a new life and a new future”, he said.
“In spite of tragedy keep your self-confidence and work hard to build a new home, a new society and a new city.
“Let tragedy transform into inner strength, determination and self confidence.”
The public event concluded with a prayer session.
Spreydon resident Susie Hoggard said she struggled to hear what the Dalai Lama said because of the noisy crowd, but enjoyed his “simple words of love and compassion”.
Mark Williamson, of Dallington, said the Dalai Lama was “illuminating”.
“He just glows, he really does. It’s great someone as important as he is has noticed the quake and taken the time out to see how we are.”
This morning the Dalai Lama told about a dozen media that he was grieving alongside the broken city of Christchurch.
He said he wanted to share some of the city’s “sadness”.
At his arrival at Christchurch airport yesterday, more than 50 supporters came to greet him.
Some people were in tears, while others offered white scarves as blessings.
The inspirational Buddhist religious leader will visit earthquake victims and emergency staff at Christchurch Hospital this afternoon.