Mosque attack victim donations system too slow, unfair to families - Pakistan Association NZ

Tributes and flowers left outside Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch after the terror attacks. - Photo: RNZ / Isra'a Emhail

Money donated is taking too long to reach mosque shooting victims, and the system used to split it risks shortchanging those most in need, the Pakistan Association says.

So far, of the $18.7 million raised by three different groups, only $1.7 million - 9 percent of the total amount - has been passed on to the families by Victim Support.

Pakistan Association of New Zealand general secretary Asim Mukhtar said he admired Victim Support's commitment, but more than four weeks on from the shootings families that had lost their main breadwinner were struggling to pay for their groceries and going into debt to meet their everyday needs.

The money paid out so far has been divided up on a per injured or deceased person basis, but Mr Mukhtar said that was not always the fairest system.

He gave the example of a family that had lost just one person but where that person was the main bread winner.

A family that had lost two members but whose main income earner had survived would still get more money, despite the impact on the family's income being less.

Mr Mukhtar said every dollar that went to the wrong place was a dollar those most in need would not get.

"If you keep on paying to the wider community ... you are actually putting your hand in the pockets of the families [and] kids ... who should be paid that money."

When the Pakistan Association handed out the $60,000 it had raised, money went to each family group regardless of how many members were affected, he said.

While this was not the perfect system, it did a better job of getting the money to where it was needed most and getting it there quickly - in the Association's case, taking just one day.

"This has allowed them to pay their quick needs ... and I believe the $7000 is good enough to survive for almost a month for a family."

Victim Support's Cam Cotter said the three main fundraisers - themselves, the Christchurch Foundation and the Islamic Information Centre - were co-ordinating their approach as to how the remainder of the money should be spent and consulting with the Muslim community on the best approach to take.

He could not provide a timeframe for when the money would be given out.

"We're four weeks into this so, you know, we've spent $1.7 million in four weeks. It's a reasonably large amount out of a response that's going to take a very long time," he said.

"So it's not necessarily as simple as saying 'get it all out quickly'. We've got to make sure that we are doing it in a responsible and measured way."

The formula used to allocate the first tranche of funding was developed quickly and was now under review, he added.

"There's a really wide variety of different needs. You know - some people have permanently lost a breadwinner or suffered some permanent disablement.

"We've got to make sure that when we do provide support from limited funds that we're able to ensure it goes towards the greatest need."

In the meantime, Victim Support was willing to provide extra money for families that approached it on a case-by-case basis, he said.

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