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$44 000 for Christchurch quake boulder

07 March 2011, 13:00

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Wellington - A boulder that wrecked a Christchurch house in last month's magnitude-6.3 earthquake has raised NZ$60 050 (US$44 265) for victims of the disaster, news reports said on Monday.

The boulder, estimated to weigh 25 to 30 tons, was put up for sale on the Trade Me internet auction site by Phil Johnson after smashing into his home in suburban Heathcote when it was dislodged by the February 22 quake from an overlooking hill.

More than 316 000 people logged on in the past week to the site to view "Rocky - suitable for garden feature, or as in our case a magnificent addition to your living area", as Johnson wrote, before it was taken down on Monday.

Trade Me spokesperson Paul Ford said a North Island buyer who offered NZ$10 050 was initially told he had won the auction. It was then confirmed that a bid of NZ$50 000 by NZSki Ltd, which had been removed under suspicion it was a hoax, was in fact genuine.

Ford said an agreement was reached between the three parties that NZSki, which manages commercial ski fields, would pay NZ$50 000 for the rock while the other bidder would still pay NZ$10 050 and get a week's holiday for four on Norfolk Island, which was offered by a supporter.

NZSki chief executive James Coddington told The Press newspaper that the company would move Rocky to the car park at its Mount Hutt ski field.

Meanwhile, Betty McGrail, aged 80, was pictured on Monday sitting next to an estimated 2-ton boulder that smashed through walls of her house and landed in the lounge during the quake, which killed a confirmed 163 people in New Zealand's second-largest city although police said the final death toll would be about 220.

"It landed right by my chair," McGrail, who fled the house when the quake started, told the New Zealand Herald. "It would have given me a bit of a fright if I'd been sitting there.

"It's sitting there quite nicely, like it's happy to be there, and no one knows how to get it out."



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