Building supplies from Fletcher Building South Pacific have arrived in Tonga to assist in rebuilding cyclone-damaged homes of people most in need.

Aside from assisting with residential repair work Fletcher Building’s South Pacific business is involved in rebuilding commercial buildings and infrastructure in Tonga. The business employs 20 people in Tonga, and 650 in the South Pacific.

Several Fletcher Construction employees in Tonga were among those who lost their homes in the storm.

The division’s South Pacific business unit leapt into action to help, asking around parent company Fletcher Building’s New Zealand building product distributors and retailers for building materials they could give at short notice to help employees and the Tongan community.

South Pacific General Manager Brent Leach says, “We wanted to make sure our teams and their communities are looked after while they rebuild their lives after this catastrophic storm.”

Fletcher Building also has employees in New Zealand with families back in Tonga who have been affected by the cyclone.

“We’re in a unique position to help being in the business of building and building products. We wanted to get a container across to Tonga as fast as possible and the response from our business managers was incredible,” Brent says. “Within a day of picking up the phone, we had 20 tonnes of donated roofing iron, which is enough to help repair around 25 homes.”

The donated supplies collected to date fill three 40-foot containers which contain roofing from Dimond Roofing and ply, timber and fixings from PlaceMakers to rebuild residential houses.

Tonga Branch Manager, Josh Collins says there’s still a lot of work to do. “With the damage to homes, schools and infrastructure the rebuild will take months if not years for some. Tongatapu and ‘Eua were the worst hit, with almost every building suffering some damage.”

The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) will be coordinating the distribution of the donated supplies as they arrive in Tonga. The Shelter Cluster (made up of international aid organisations), which supports people affected by disasters, will be distributing the materials to assist the most vulnerable people in making repairs to their houses first.

“We’re very grateful for Fletcher Building’s kind donation. Directly receiving building materials will speed up repairs and enable the NGOs who are repairing houses to spend money on other things,” say Graham Kenna of NEMO.

The contents of the first 40ft container, which arrived in Tonga on March 28, will be distributed this week.

Fletcher Construction has worked with a wide range of clients over the last 70 years to help build thriving island nations and is now permanently based in Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.