Second day of Tonga fundraiser in Auckland today

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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Photo: RNZ/ Lydia Lewis

The second day of a drive to receive emergency supplies to be sent to Tonga starts in Auckland at 9am this morning.

Hundreds queued for hours at Mount Smart Stadium in Penrose yesterday to deliver emergency goods that will be sent to their families in Tonga.

Almost six shipping containers were filled yesterday and organisers say at one point queues of more than 400 hundred cars stretched three kilometres.

Aotearoa Tonga relief committee secretary Pakilau Manase Lua said it’s been heartening to see the support and today is expected to see an even bigger turn out.

He said only vaccinated people can enter the stadium but donations from unvaccinated people can be dropped off at the stadium gates from 9am to 8pm.

Mepa Vuni said it was a long wait yesterday and many people had taken the day off work to make their deliveries for Tonga to the stadium.

“I haven’t spoken to my Mum since the eruption on Saturday. We are all doing this for the time being. We have been queing here for more than two hours. People have been queuing since 7 o’clock,” she said last evening.

Pasifika doctors ready

The Pasifika Medical Association is ready to mobilise the necessary support for Tonga, following the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.

PMA’s Medical Assistance Team is ready to send an experienced and specialized team of doctors, nurses and technical support workers.

The medical team has previously been deployed to Tonga to help with the measles outbreak and Cyclone Gita.

PMA chief executive Debbie Sorensen said they are prepared and are on standby.

She said the volcanic ash is a major concern for people with asthma or respiratory conditions, who will require extra health assistance.

Concerns about Covid threat from emergency response

Tonga’s Minister of Trade and Economic Development is reassuring the public there is minimal threat of Covid-19 being imported into the kingdom via the international emergency response to last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Emergency assistance from the international community is ramping up with navy vessels and flights arriving into the kingdom from Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

Tonga has had a strict border closure in place since the start of the pandemic and has so far had no community transmission of Covid.

Ulu’alo Po’uhila the editor and publisher of Tongan newspaper, Kakalu O Tonga, is in New Zealand and said he managed to speak with minister Viliame Latu and put to him concerns raised by the public about Covid-19 protocols around the international relief effort.

“I was asking because there is a concern throug these [emergency] aid and these people going to Tonga it might take the virus, Covid virus, to Tonga. And I was told that they, all they do is just, it is a contact-less delivery,” he said.

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