Bob Parker may be dispatched to bring comfort to Haiti, Syria

Mayoral candidate Lianne Dalziel believes that Bob Parker could prove a vital disaster management tool for cities around the world.

Mayoral candidate Lianne Dalziel believes that Bob Parker could prove a vital disaster management tool for cities around the world.

Candidate and prospective frontrunner for the Christchurch mayoralty Lianne Dalziel has said today that she believes there will still be a role for Mayor Bob Parker when he steps down later this year, following his shock announcement last week that he would not campaign for re-election.

In a move aimed at making peace with her former political opponent and his supporters, Dalziel has suggested that Parker could be contracted out by the council to other disaster zones around the world, so that his soothing television presence might help them in their own darkest days.

“No matter what your opinion of Bob, he stood up and was here for us when we needed him most,” she said. “He got on TV and he smiled, he empathized, he showed us how a chemical toilet works, and he wore lots of things around his neck to make it look like something was happening.

“It would be a shame not to take what’s left of Bob Parker and share it with those who have similar needs.”

Several local government bodies in the earthquake-stricken Haitian city of Port au Prince have already expressed great interest in Parker, who they believe could help comfort their people as they die a slow, lonely death in poverty and homelessness. No such requests have emanated from Syria, but Dalziel believes it to be a region that could do with adopting a similar approach.

Parker said he was flattered by the suggestion, and would consider it a “great honour” to help other communities in their time of need.

“It was a great privilege for the people of Christchurch to give to me at that very difficult time,” he said, “and it would be an even greater privilege, I think, to be able to export that to other cities around the world. I think the process of comfort and disaster management is very universal. No matter where you go, no matter what happens, what people really like to see is someone front up, look them in the eye and say ‘Look, everyone has died. We need you to stay indoors.’”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Parker has been contracted out to bring comfort to those who might be feeling uncertain or afraid. The Christchurch mayor is already appearing in a new safety video for Air New Zealand, in which he addresses passengers against the backdrop of a destroyed cityscape.

“Hi, I’m Bob Parker, and I’ve seen death,” the video begins. “In the event of an earthquake, I want you to know that you’ll be just fine in the air. As far as airplane safety goes, I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure how that works. But rest assured, our job here at Air New Zealand is to figure that out as we go.

“The good news is we’ve only ever had one accident, and the airline tells me that, in that case, there was really nothing that anyone aboard that aircraft could have done, so…”

Passengers who have seen the in-flight video reported feeling, on average, 80% safer than they normally do while flying. This in stark contrast to the previous safety video featuring Bear Grylls, which passengers said made them feel more afraid.

Asked if he had a message to send to the people of Syria or Haiti, Parker had this to say:

“Just be sure to check on your friends and neighbours, because they’re really toughing it out there. If you’re feeling trapped or helpless, try to do something to get your mind off it all. Perhaps do some home baking, and take it to a friend. If your TV or your shower isn’t working, give it another day. And whatever you do, don’t drink the tap water. There’s a lot of sarin in there.”