While New Zealand helps out the Cooks Islands in the
aftermath of Cyclone Pat, it is waiting to hear if it needs
to divert resources to Tonga, which was battered by Cyclone
There have been no reported injuries or fatalities as a
result of Cyclone Rene which was a stroppy category four
storm when it slammed into the northern Tongan islands
yesterday and the main island of Tongatapu overnight.
It has, however, brought down trees and powerlines, lifted
roofs, and knocked out communications between the islands.
Crops have been hard-hit, with winds tearing down banana
palms and fruit from mango and breadfruit trees.
Staff at the New Zealand High Commission in Nuku'alofa
reported very high winds, squally rains and heavy seas last
night. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) said
today that with power and communication down it was difficult
to get an accurate assessment of damage, but the New Zealand
government was monitoring the situation closely.
"We are talking to the Tongan government, as well as our
partners Australia and France about the best use of our
collective resources in planning for a possible response," a
New Zealanders with immediate plans to travel to Tonga were
advised to contact their travel agent in case flights had
Based on its current track, the now-downgraded Cyclone Rene
is likely to begin affecting eastern and southern parts of
Fiji later today.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules is in the Cook Islands
and will fly to the northern island of Aitutaki today with an
engineering team on board to help with the clean-up after
Cyclone Pat hit the region last Thursday.
A state of disaster was declared on Aitutaki where about 60
percent of houses were damaged. The team will be based in
Aitutaki and the Hercules will fly supplies between Rarotonga
New Zealand had made an initial contribution of $200,000 for
relief and recovery efforts in the Cook Islands and would
continue to work with authorities there, he said.