Community rallies to help Tonga Relief efforts

20/01/2014

Auckland’s Tongan community has heeded the call to assist the Ha’apai Relief effort after Cyclone Ian struck the Kingdom of Tonga on January 11. One person was killed and an estimated 2000 people were displaced. Small nearby islands such as Fao and Ha’ano were badly affected. On Ha’ano Island an estimated 60 per cent of homes were destroyed.<!--more-->

In Auckland, three sea containers were fully loaded with food and supplies in two days and were headed for Tonga today (January 20). Three more containers will be ready to go by January 22. The Christchurch Tongan Community confirmed they were also sending 2 containers of building tools, goods and supplies. The costs of freight will be met by the Auckland Mayoral Fund for the Pacific, set up to assist with disasters and co-ordinate communications between families of affected Pacific countries during a declared state of emergency.

Shipping lines Matsons and PDL have donated cargo space, while Digicel Tonga has also been actively supporting the campaign effort. According to a recent media release, the New Zealand Government will supply 300 emergency shelter kits for over 2000 people and will assist the Tonga and New Zealand Red Cross with providing clean water on the islands of Ha’apai. The NZ Government has added a further $300,000 to its initial $50,000 made immediately available for specific requests.

Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) in the country’s South Island, where several Tongan nationals along with Pacific Islanders from other countries are also employed, were also keen to assist and co-ordinate relief efforts.

Apart from the urgent need for food, water, shelter and sanitation is also the need for schoolbooks and school materials. Most of the primary schools in Ha’apai were destroyed and are looking for temporary premises.

Here is how you can donate to organisations engaged in relief work in Tonga:

• Via the ‘donate now’ function on the Auckland Communities Foundation (ACF) website www.aucklandcf.org.nz

• Via direct payment to the ACF bank account (with reference ‘MFP’ to ASB Bank account 12-3028-0714703-00)

• Via cheque made payable to ‘Auckland Communities Foundation Mayoral Fund for the Pacific’ and sent to PO Box 26087, Epsom 1334, Auckland.