Wellington’s small but vibrant Tongan community is to be commended for its continuing efforts to help friends and relatives in cyclone-ravaged Tonga, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says.
Mr Lotu-Iiga was the guest of honour at a fundraising dinner held last night at the James Cook hotel by the Wellington Tongan Leaders Council. The council filled and sent a container of supplies shortly after Cyclone Ian hit Ha’apai in January this year.
“The Council also sent members up to Nuku’alofa to unload, then repack the contents into smaller units for transfer to a local boat which took them on to Ha’apai.
“That’s an admirable level of practical support,’ Mr Lotu-Iiga said.
The Wellington Tongan Leaders Council is now repeating that exercise and fundraising to enable delivery of a second container of supplies to Ha’apai. This will help local people re-establish normal life as soon as possible. Once again, the Council will send up personnel to help repack contents include building materials, gardening supplies and other practical items.
The New Zealand government has donated $2.27 million to the relief and recovery efforts in Tonga. The government has also sent six Tongan-speaking technicians to help restore the electricity network.
Auckland Tongan communities have fundraised and filled 10 containers of relief supplies.
“It is not easy to re-establish your life when hundreds of homes have been damaged and destroyed. I commend the Wellington Tongan Leaders Council for their assistance and support to the people of Ha’apai,” he said.