Race host Keoghan's mercy dash

16:00, Feb 26 2011
keoghan
Phil Keoghan, centre, and producer Jack Renaud, with camera, talk to C1 Expresso Coffee Shop, High St, owners Fleur and Sam Crofskey.

THE Amazing Race host and Canterbury boy made good Phil Keoghan has made a mercy dash back to his old stomping ground.

Keoghan, born in Lincoln, south of Christchurch, was yesterday making his way through the central city streets filming a first-person piece to screen tomorrow on the prime time news bulletins of American network CBS.

The quake is raw for Keoghan. He attended St Andrew's College and parents John and Beth run a bed and breakfast in Rolleston. Last night they slept on the floor of their garage – they have given up their bed to homeless Cantabrians.

"I was here eight months ago filming for Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism and we were walking down these streets," said Keoghan, 43.

"You think these buildings which you know so well, which have stood for 100 years or more, will stand forever. And here they are lying in ruins. It's like something out of a movie, but it's real.

"You realise everything we build on the earth is temporary and ultimately the most important part of a place is the people.

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"So long as there is still a Cantabrian standing you can't take Christchurch away – the buildings may be gone but the spirit of the people remains. But people here are really scared. This is brutal."

Keoghan gained rare access inside the cordons guarding the CBD, ushered in by Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism because of the audience he commands in the important US market.

The Amazing Race, in which teams of two people race around the world in competition with other teams for a US$1 million ($1.33 million) grand prize, has earned eight Emmy Awards.

Alongside his CBS news piece, Keoghan will appeal for donations to New Zealand Red Cross. But the vital thing is to get an accurate message out to Americans, he says.

At the moment the US thinks all New Zealand is a flattened disaster zone.

"The worst thing that can happen is that people stop getting on planes and stop visiting here. No matter what fundraising people do, it's a drop in the bucket compared to tourism."

Sunday News