Don’t forget Tonga – they’ve been hammered

don't forget tonga

Don’t forget Tonga just because it happened a while ago – this is the message of former All Black coach, Wayne Smith.

“They’ve been absolutely hammered, a lot of them are homeless”, he told RNZ.

The island kingdom was battered by a tsunami after an undersea volcanic eruption last month.

Distribution of aid to Tonga is starting to speed up, with forklifts being used in the work to distribute much-needed supplies to families.

Rugby coaching greats Sir Graham Henry and Wayne Smith are among those sending much-needed goods on Matson shipping containers arranged by Sir Michael Jones.

Smith said it was outstanding how much people were willing to give and he wants people to keep the situation at the forefront of their minds.

St Vincent de Paul responds generously

Catholic organisation St Vincent de Paul is also responding generously to the devastation with two 20-foot containers of urgently needed materials.

Learning of the need, SVDP immediately launched an appeal to its members to put together the material aid requested by the Society in Tonga, says Arthur Schultze, the Society’s liaison person with Tonga and Oceania.

More than four-fifths of the Tongan population has been affected by the subsequent tsunami and falling ash.

Under the Society’s ‘twinning’ arrangements, the Society in New Zealand is partnered with Tonga and provides support as a donor country.

“The biggest challenge up there at the moment is dealing with the volcanic ash which is having a huge impact on the drinking water.

“They have a deep spring from which they can draw bottled water and that’s being used full-on. Emergency water supplies are being brought in from the Australian and New Zealand Governments”.

Schultze says he is in regular contact with SVDP’s National President in Tonga, Sakapo Lolohea.

“There are many families who are coming to the main island Tongatapu from the outlying islands which have been worst hit. The Society in Tonga is supporting these displaced people, along with other agencies.”

Schultze says a real strength of the Society’s aid effort is that it is meeting needs identified by the Society on the ground in Tonga. These include water bottles, water filters, face masks, water blasters, protective eyewear, wheelbarrows, blankets, clothing, chainsaws, hoses, gloves, gumboots, safety boots and batteries.

Some of the items being provided are not available in Tonga.

The first 20-ft container was dispatched from Auckland direct to Nukualofa in mid-February. A second container-load is planned for mid-March.

Schultze says the Society has a strong relationship with the Society in Tonga and the targeted approach is working very well.

Earlier, CathNews reported that Caritas is responding to Tonga’s need.


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