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Ha’apai Relief Committee Up And Running…

MEDIA RELEASE 15/01/2014

Ha’apai Relief Committee Up And Running…

The Tongan community in Auckland has set up a Ha’apai Relief Committee to co-ordinate sending of food parcels and emergency supplies to the cyclone-affected families in the Ha’apai group in Tonga.

The newly formed committee chaired by Jennifer Latu Salesa is racing against time to get their supplies on to the first ship to leave New Zealand for Tonga since cyclone Ian swept through the Haapai group late last week.

An inter-island freighter leaves for Tonga via Fiji on Monday.

Ha’apai Relief Committee chairperson Jennifer Latu Salesa says that by noon today (Wednesday) up to three containers will be delivered to the Mangere Methodist Church in Orly Avenue for families to use.

“At this stage we will only accept perishable food, water and small household tools, crockery and cutlery. We won’t be able to take clothing, heavy tools or furniture, she says.

“And we only have until Friday to get it all loaded up and ready to be shipped, she says.

The cost of sending the containers to Tonga will be met by the Mayoral Fund for the Pacific which was set up by Auckland mayor Len Brown to assist with disaster preparedness and to coordinate family to family responses from Auckland to affected countries in the Pacific in a state of declared emergency.

John Kotoisuva, who chairs the advisory committee for the Mayoral Fund was at the community meeting last night to explain that the funds will be accessed to meet the costs of sending family to family emergency supplies to Ha’apai in Tonga after the devastation of cyclone Ian.

He said that the fund was responding to calls from the Tongan community for action to be taken immediately even though to date there has been no official request for help from the Tongan government.

The Haapai Relief Committee (HRC) executive is an all-woman line-up of well-known Ha’apai women living in New Zealand.

Chairperson Jennifer Latu Salesa is a qualified lawyer working as a Principal Policy Advisor with 20 years of public service experience in NZ and the United States. She is from Foa Island, which is one of the five islands wrecked by cyclone Ian.

Her deputy, Amelia Schaaf, a practicing barrister and solicitor in Auckland grew up in neighbouring Ha’ano Island where up to 60 percent of homes were destroyed.

Secretary Makalita Kolo is married to the Kolo family of Foa and is the electorate secretary for Mangere MP, Su’a Viliami Sio who called and chaired last night’s meeting.

ENDS

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