On behalf of the World Heritage Committee, I was deeply saddened by the news of the earthquake that has caused loss of life and the destruction of the beautiful city of Christchurch.  I send my sincere condolences and sympathy to the people of New Zealand.

To many of us who were present at the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2007, we fondly remember the warm welcome of the city of Christchurch and its hospitable people.

During that session, New Zealand introduced the fifth "C" (Community) within the strategic objectives identified by the World Heritage Committee to promote the implementation of the World Heritage Convention; thus responding to the need of the Convention to acknowledge the essential role of local communities in the protection and conservation of World Heritage Sites.

We believe that the people of Christchurch will overcome these trying times with the strength and courage of their community.

The thoughts and deepest sympathies of the World Heritage family are with the people of Christchurch, their families and all New Zealanders at this very difficult time.

Shaikha Mai bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa
Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee
Minister of Culture
Kingdom Of Bahrain