Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Team to Tonga following reports of ‘complete destruction’

For immediate release
14 January, 2014

Oxfam deploys team to Tonga following reports of ‘complete destruction’

Oxfam New Zealand has sent an emergency response team to Tonga today and is gearing up its aid efforts following reports of utter destruction left by Cyclone Ian to the northern islands of Ha’apai.

Matelita Blake-Hour, from Oxfam’s partner organisation in Tonga, The Tongan National Youth Congress (TNYC), is in Ha’apai as part of the Tongan Government’s assessment team, surveying the damage to determine the most urgent needs.

“I’ve never seen anything so fierce and so scary in my life,” said Ms Blake-Hour today. “In some areas I can see the path the cyclone cut through the trees, it’s complete destruction - every house has been destroyed and every family affected, but then out of the path of the cyclone some trees and buildings are still standing.

“There is about 90% destruction to the low-lying, outer islands of Foa, Ha’ano and Mo’unga’one, and about 80% to Pangai, the capital of Ha’apai.

“Houses, trees, even plants are destroyed. There’s no fruit, no crops, or anything. Some houses have been lifted up and put down somewhere else.

“Even the road from Pangai to the airport, the sea has picked it up and put it on the other side. Even the strong church building – its roof has been lifted off.

“I have seen cyclones before, many times, but nothing like this. People are homeless and living in evacuation centres, they’ve lost everything. It is good when they see us, they calm down, they know we will help.”

Ms Blake-Hour said that clean water for drinking and sanitation was a real concern as many people on the islands rely on rooftop rainwater catchment systems for drinking water, and wells for washing and cleaning water. Although water was stored prior to the cyclone in large tanks, most of it has been damaged.

“With all the roofs off houses there is no way for people to get clean water and most of the wells and water tanks have turned brown and taste salty from the sea. Dirt has got in and we are telling people not to drink it because it will make them sick,” she said.

Oxfam programmes in Ha’apai damaged

Oxfam, along with our local partner organisation the Tongan National Youth Congress (TNYC), has had programmes in Ha’apai for almost two years, including three organic coconut oil processing sites that provide a much-needed way for local farmers to earn a living exporting coconut oil to America.

Ms Blake-Hour has come across two out of three sites in her assessments with the Tongan government, both of which were found damaged.

“At one site the roof is torn off, at another the dryer is destroyed and all of the coconuts have been ripped from the trees. We need to collect the coconuts quickly and process them or we will lose a lot of oil, which means no way for people who have lost everything to make money and rebuild their lives.”

Oxfam sent two specialists to Tonga today and a third will follow tomorrow to help with water, sanitation, livelihoods and food.

Carlos Calderon, Pacific Humanitarian Manager of Oxfam New Zealand, will join the team in Tonga tomorrow. He says: “We will help with clean water, and re-establishing crops which will give people food to eat, but also to sell so they can support themselves, recover markets and re-build their lives. For people who get their incomes from the land, this is essential. We want to help them return to normality as soon as possible,” he says.

Oxfam New Zealand is appealing to the New Zealand public to generously support the Cyclone Ian relief effort.

Donations to Oxfam’s Cyclone Ian appeal can be made at www.oxfam.org.nz, by phoning 0800 600 700, or to make an automatic $3 donation, please text HELP to 4847.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Wellington.Scoop: Serco – First The Prisons, And Now It Wants To Run The Trains

As the government continues its inquiry into Serco’s discredited administration of Mt Eden prison in Auckland, here in Wellington there’s further scrutiny of the British outsourcing company – because it’s competing to take over the running of our commuter trains. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Countdown, And Mary Margaret O’Hara

To date, the Key government has been unwilling to share any information about this TPP deal until it is too late for outraged public opinion to affect the outcome... the disclosure process is likely to consist of a similarly skewed and careful exercise in spin. More>>


Australia Deportations: English Relaxed On Immigration Centre Conditions

Labour's Annette King: “There have been numerous reports from inside these detention centres on just how bad conditions are... If they were being held in any other foreign jail, I imagine Mr English would be somewhat concerned. More>>


Schools: Achievement-Based Funding Would Be A Disaster

The Education Minister’s speech to the PPTA Conference raising the spectre of achievement data driving a new funding system would be disastrous, says NZEI Te Riu Roa. More>>

  • Video Out-Link - PPTA Annual Conference 2015 on Livestream (Q+A dicussion suggests funding would be directed to less successful schools.)

  • ALSO:

    ECE Report:

    Key In NY: Prime Minister Addresses United Nations

    Prime Minister John Key has addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, focusing on a call for action in Syria and on other conflicts, reform of the veto process and on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. More>>.


    Gordon Campbell: On The Lack Of Accountability Over Philip Smith

    In New Zealand, accountability is an exotic creature rarely glimpsed at ministerial level, or among senior management. The flight to Rio by the paedophile /murderer Philip John Smith/Traynor is no exception. More>>


    More On Corrections

    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news