Pasifika groups desperate to obtain container

Pasifika aid groups in the South responding to the volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami which struck Tonga earlier this month are desperate to secure one important item.

Dunedin Tongan Community co-ordinator Finau Taungapeau said the focus for her group right now was obtaining a container to ensure donations collected could be transported to the affected communities.

So far the group had been unsuccessful in having a shipping container donated, and had been quoted a price of $10,300 to buy one.

Mrs Taungapeau said she had two brothers living in Tonga, but had only been able to speak to one of them since the eruption.

While she understood her other brother was confirmed to be safe, it was still tough not being able to make contact.

Family members on the island were telling her that food supplies were what was most needed right now, with tap water able to be boiled for consumption.

Samoan Advisory Council chairman Afamasaga Pavihi said his organisation was doing everything it could to assist in the search for a container.

The Samoan community was very motivated to help their Tongan neighbours however they could.

"Samoa is Tonga and Tonga is Samoa. It’s our brothers and sisters."

Collecting food and essential supplies for victims of the Tongan volcano and tsunami at Dunedin...
Collecting food and essential supplies for victims of the Tongan volcano and tsunami at Dunedin Hospital yesterday are (from left) Samisoni Molia, Tiare Makanesi, Kym Makanesi, Taufa Makanesi, Tonga Ngaluafe and Iosefara Fereti-Boot. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Local Samoans remembered the generous support received from Tongans when Samoa was hit by a tsunami in 2009, and would be keen to repay the kindness now.

While the search for a container continued, Taieri MP Ingrid Leary had volunteered her electorate office on Hillside Rd to act as a collection point for donations this week.

People who wished to give food, money or other essential items to the relief effort could do so between 7pm and 9pm today and tomorrow.

Bottled water and non-perishable food items were being sought, alongside other essential items such as toilet paper, masks, detergent and torches or candles.

Meanwhile, another collection of non-perishable food and other essential items at Dunedin Hospital got off to a flying start yesterday.

Organiser Kym Makanesi said by lunchtime donations had already filled the three boxes at the collection point, and more boxes had needed to be urgently acquired.

Assorted canned goods, sacks of rice and bags of pasta were received alongside other useful items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Cash donations were also being accepted.

The collection point at Dunedin Hospital would be open daily from 9am to 3pm until Friday.

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