Ha‘apai relief effort sends first containers

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NZ, AUCK:  Pacific community in Auckland rallied to step up efforts to help victims in Tonga that devastated by super Cyclone Ian.

The most powerful cyclone ever recorded to have smashed into the Tonga Islands demolished 90 percent of all homes and at least one person killed in the kingdom’s third  largest island group of Ha’apai.  

Chairperson of the Ha’apai Relief Committee in Auckland, Jenny Latu Salesa told Kaniva News today a committee was set up to organize the Ha’apai relief effort following a meeting held last night in Mangere by the Tongan and Pacific communities.

“There are three containers now hopefully by this evening they will be available at Lotofale’ia church and they are free for the community to put in whatever they like to send to help Ha’apai,” Salesa said.

The deadline is Saturday 18 before the vessel leaves for Tonga on Monday next week.

But there was something Salesa asked the Auckland community to consider:

Just “give the basic necessity needs. At this stage we will only accept non-perishable food, water and small household tools, crockery and cutlery. No tv and  furniture", she said adding this is not the “last chance to send assistance to Tonga as the relief project was set to be ongoing and at this point in time we need to send just the immediate needs”.

Salesa said the Mayoral Disaster Fund has been activated by Mayor Len Borwn’s office following Cyclone Ian and the Ha’apai Relief Committee in New Zealand “was fortunate to get fund from it”.

“The Mayoral Fund would pay for the shipments and all costs for the transportation. That fund was intended to help the Pacific countries when there is disaster like this,” said Salesa who is the only Tongan member in the Mayoral Fund advisory committee.

The meeting was arranged by Mangere’s Labour MP Sua William Sio and Lawyer ‘Amelia Schaaf.  

National MP Peseta Lotu Inga attended  and he outlined at the meeting the “New Zealand Government's response to the disaster and encouraged local people to also take part in the relief efforts for family and friends back home in Tonga”.

Need more help

While a huge relief effort is under way in the Ha’apai Group to help victims Ha’apai Governor, Lord Tu’iha’angana said they  need a lot more help.

NEMO’s Impact report says there were 4979 people estimated to have been around when the cyclone hit.

Victims now shelter in church buildings and public halls.

The telecommunication networks was reported to be up and running since yesterday.

New Zealand 3News said it would take at least two months to rebuild the power lines which 95 percent  of it has been destroyed by the cyclone.

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