Rally making a statement

A convoy of more than 150 British cars will travel from Blenheim to Christchurch on the eve of the second anniversary of the city's devastating earthquake.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake that killed 185 people and damaged much of Christchurch city and suburbs, struck at 12.51pm on February 22, 2011.

The organiser of the 2013 Great British Car Rally, British high commissioner Vicki Treadell, said the rally had been planned around arriving in Christchurch today.

"Arriving in Christchurch on the eve of the second anniversary of the earthquake with some 300 people is a statement of confidence in the city going forward."

The rally started in the Auckland Domain on Sunday, travelled down the East Coast of the North Island, before catching the Cook Strait ferry to spend last night in Blenheim. After a pit stop in Kaikoura for lunch, the rally will finish in Christchurch tonight.

Last night, Mrs Treadell spoke to about 20 Marlborough businesspeople about the rally, and how New Zealand exporters could use British influence and connections to establish a presence overseas.

"Britain is a key magnet for investors from major economies . . . many major companies from the United States, China and India have a presence in Britain."

Britain provided a "soft landing" for New Zealand businesses to establish a presence, and an easier path to connecting with other international businesses, she said.

The rally had been a wonderful way to connect with New Zealanders and reaffirm Britain's strong engineering manufacturing sector.

The only hitch had been a speeding ticket near Napier, where three others in the rally had also been snapped, she said.

She pledged to match every dollar of her fine to the four charities the rally is raising money for - Starship Children's Hospital, Save the Children, Christchurch City Mission and Christchurch mental health service Stepping Stone Foundation.

The Marlborough Express