Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Pacific Island communities in Aotearoa continue sending much needed relief to Tonga

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Soana Aholelei | Reporter / Director

One month on and the help is still flowing into Tonga.

“We’ve got a lot of water and food supplies that will be going over to Tonga, this is our third container that will be going over, we’ve got staff over there we’ve got families. So were just loading our containers and helping out our families and our staff,” says Joe Vagana, Operations Manager for the Trow Group in West Auckland. 

The Trow Group are known for their deconstruction work in Auckland but they also have an operation in Tonga. Vagana says they already have a lot of building material there, much of it sent over in the wake of Cyclone Gita in 2018. 

“So, we are established over there. I think were the largest recycling center over there,” Vagana says 

Trow are not alone in their efforts, over in Wellington the Tongan community has filled two shipping containers destined for the islands and they’ve fundraised for another two containers to send more relief.

Edna ‘Ungatea Havea, secretary of the Wellington Tonga Leaders’ Council says;  “When we pack things to send home we think about all sorts of things you know, food, toiletries, bed linens.  So all the bits and pieces that you use for everyday living and to make sure that will last.

“Also, because of lockdown and the restrictions, we want to make sure that people have the goods and the resources that they need so they don’t need to go out to the shops and go out of their villages to do some shopping,” Havea says.

The growing Covid-19 cases in Tonga has also made many here more anxious.  Leaders want to reassure the community that their efforts will help people back home

Tonga’s Speaker of Parliament Lord Fakafanua says; “It’s a challenging time for all Tongans in Tonga.   Families here also feel for their families at home and want to do what they can to help alleviate the situation being in lockdown.

“We have been reassured that the assistance that will arrive will continue to be distributed to those who need them.”

Also helping boost aid efforts is Victoria University, who have donated $37000.

Chancellor  John Allen says; “We’ve got 181 Tongan students in our community and they are a very important part of that community.”

Member of the Tongan Community and Victoria University of Wellington, Dr Mele Tupou Vaitohi says; “We are very moved actually by the support and the ‘Ofa and the love we have received so far from everyone here in New Zealand, and what we want is just to showcase that the Tongan community has the leadership to make sure and ensure that these assistance and these ‘Ofa get to the people in Tonga.”

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