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"If people can give money, that can then be resourced for the likes of the food distribution centres," Salvation Army Queenstown community manager Blair McKenzie said.
"They do need to go and buy food, so money that gets donated goes directly towards those sorts of things."
He was aware people wanted to "roll their sleeves up and get up there and help", but said people needed to be patient while recovery efforts were still in the assessment stage and the region prepared to offer co-ordinated support.
"What I've been told is that we are going to need work forces of people to assist in Christchurch. Not today, not this week - there are thousands of people from Christchurch who are helping right now, but those guys are going to get tired and will need a break and there will be opportunity for support people to, if you like, do a tour of duty and get on board with organisations over the weeks and months ahead."
• People can donate to the Salvation Army online at www.salvationarmy.co.nz by clicking on the Christchurch earthquake link, or by telephoning 0800 530-000.