Aroha for Ukraine: Nelson shows its support

Ukrainians in Nelson have been buoyed by the support they have received from the opposite side of the world to their war-torn homeland.

Photo: Supplied / Matt Lawrey

Today’s Aroha for Ukraine event is a chance for Nelson’s Ukrainian and Russian communities to share how they have been affected by the war, thank the community, and share that support with friends and family back home.

Nelsonian Dmytro Romanenko said the event was encouraging for those living in Ukraine.

Romanenko was born in Russia, left with his family as a teenager and has lived in Nelson for the last four years.

He said the situation in his homeland was hard to explain and brought up a mix of different emotions, but that events like this helped to increase cohesion within the community.

“For me, actually the main purpose of this event is to share the videos, to share this spirit we have in New Zealand at the moment.

“It’s surprising for them that people so far away are expressing compassion and support and at the same time it helps people to cheer up a bit.”

There are around 200 people from Russia living in Nelson and a smaller group from Ukraine.

In the last two weeks, a woman who had fled Ukraine during the conflict had arrived in Nelson to live with family.

Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy put out a call to the people of the world to take to the streets to show their support for the country.

With only 24 hours notice, Nelson City Councillor Matt Lawrey helped to put an event together on the Church Steps at the top of Trafalgar Street in Nelson.

“The local Ukrainian people that I met through that were absolutely rapt and said it would be great if we could have another event where people had more notice.”

Last week, the community raised almost $12,000 at bake sales in Nelson and Motueka for the Ohmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Lawrey said the Aroha for Ukraine event was another chance for Nelsonians to get in behind the war-torn country.

“They’ve been massively buoyed by the support they’ve already had from New Zealanders and from Nelsonians and for them, this is partly an opportunity to say thank you for the support you’ve shown us so far.”

He said it did not go unnoticed, with photos, videos and articles about the events making their way to Europe.

“They’ve told me that it means so much to people in Ukraine to be able to see people far far away in places like Aotearoa New Zealand standing with them and supporting them”

The Aroha for Ukraine event will be held in the 1903 Square at 12pm on Saturday.

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