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Officials hampered quake volunteer efforts

09:30 Thu Mar 1 2012
AAP
Sam Johnson, founder of the Student Volunteer Army , who helped with the massive clean-up operation in Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes last year (Getty)
Sam Johnson, founder of the Student Volunteer Army , who helped with the massive clean-up operation in Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes last year (Getty)

Officials showed a lack of respect and hindered the efforts of volunteers in the aftermath of the Christchurch quakes, the leader of the Student Volunteer Army says.

The army's founder, Sam Johnson, recently named Young New Zealander of the Year, was speaking at the Emergency Management Conference in Wellington on Wednesday.

He said some officials had shown a "lack of respect" towards the thousands of students who turned out to help with the clean up efforts.

"There was this large divide between paid salary employees and the volunteers, almost like they were doing us a favour to get us a little bit of information," he said.

Mr Johnson told The Press the problems weren't limited to student volunteers.

He said Christchurch City Council staff responsible for liaising with volunteers had caused problems by being "inflexible".

It had also been difficult for volunteers to get the information they needed to help quake-hit residents.

Mr Johnson said it was important for authorities to learn how to gather information about what is actually happening on the street and how best to relay that information.

Christchurch City Council city environment general manager Jane Parfitt was unaware of Mr Johnson's issues and said the council would be making contact with him.