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The chairperson for the Waikato Tongan Community Charity Trust in Hamilton is humbled and heartened by the support received from local government and the business sector to support the people of Tonga.
That support has come in the form of monetary donations and supplies to send back to Tonga as the country rebuilds after the devastating Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami.
Trust chairperson Mefi Naufahu says, that kind of generosity and willingness to support the people of Tonga is not something he has come across often.
“I think this project has been able to bring our Tongan community together and we’ve all worked together on this project. Everybody is doing their job contributing their time and energy.
“I am in the really fortunate position like this to have people who are of the same mind wanting to help out,” Naufahu says.
Working alongside Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate, Pacific health and social services provider Kaute Pasifika and local media, Naufahu says they were able to get the word out about their efforts to organise containers of food to be transported to the Kingdom. So far the Waikato community has sent two containers that arrived in Tonga at the end of January.
Naufahu says they are hoping to ship another two containers to Tonga by February 14th with one container bound for Vavau and the other to Tongatapu.
“We will continue to ship containers but we will vary them like, one might be to send meat and probably another one will be stationery for schools,” he says.
“We will continue to send food with the understanding from families in Tonga that’s what they need.”
Naufahu added that they will continue to use the funds that have been donated by businesses in Hamilton to meet the cost of freight for the containers.
“We are so humbled by the businesses and also individuals who have donated to the trust account, it’s wonderful,” he says.
Hamilton financial co-op First Credit Union donated ten thousand dollars to the relief effort.
General Manager Simon Scott says, “Providing funding is First Credit Union’s Way of supporting the Tongan community who supports us in our time of need and also answers the call from Mayor Paula Southgate to Hamilton businesses to ‘get alongside’ the Tongan community.”