The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, has called Australians to keep New Zealanders in their prayers after a series of powerful earthquakes hit the east coast of the South Island overnight.
Two people are confirmed to have died and there has been extensive damage to roads and infrastructure.
“Right now our sisters and brothers in Aotearoa need our prayers as they confront the effects of another serious earthquake,” said Stuart.
“Our ecumenical friends in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand begin their annual Assembly this week. We have informed them and the Methodist Church of Aotearoa and New Zealand of our prayers and concern.”
“I’m sure all Uniting Church members will join me in praying for their safety and security.”
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck about 90 kilometres northeast of Christchurch.
Aftershocks were felt as far away as Wellington, over 200 kilometres from the earthquake’s epicentre.
A number of residents on the east coast of the South Island were forced to leave their homes and move to higher ground as tsunami warnings sounded.
Authorities are still assessing the extent of the damage.