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And Rowan Dixon is no stranger to relief efforts.
As part of his master of planning degree at the University of Otago, in 2007 Mr Dixon travelled to Aceh, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, after the province was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2004.
During his two-month tenure, he helped in the aid effort and studied the reconstruction of the local fishing industry, a livelihood for the local people.
Mr Dixon, an assistant planner with the Dunedin City Council, said he decided to take two weeks' leave and go to Samoa "to offer another pair of hands".
"This is something I just want to do."
He would contact aid agencies after landing in Samoa tonight.
While there, he planned to distribute items donated by colleagues.
"I have been overwhelmed by people's support."