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Let’s help Tonga

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, January 19th, 2022 - 12 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, disaster, Environment, International, Pacific - Tags:

The news over the past couple of days from Tonga has been really disturbing.  A volcanic eruption that was heard through large parts of the world has generated tsunamis that have wrecked considerable damage.  To top things off the Islands have been coated in heavy volcanic ash, making such basic events such as the collection of water almost impossible.

Up to 80,000 people , or four fifths of the population, have been affected.

Communication is slowly being resumed allowing local Tongans to lower anxiety levels by confirming that their Tongan whanau are ok.

The Government has sprung into action and ordered aerial surveillance and two RNZN ships into the area. From the Beehive website:

New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today.

“Following the successful surveillance and reconnaissance flight of a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion on Monday, imagery and details have been sent to relevant authorities in Tonga, to aid in decisions about what support is most needed,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“However images show ashfall on the Nuku’alofa airport runway that must be cleared before a C-130 Hercules flight with humanitarian assistance can land,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“In the meantime two Royal New Zealand Navy ships will depart New Zealand today. Communication issues caused by the eruption have made this disaster response particularly challenging. The delays mean we have taken the decision for both HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa to sail so they can respond quickly if called upon by the Tongan Government,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“HMNZS Wellington will be carrying Hydrographic Survey and Diving Teams, as well as an SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopter. HMNZS Aotearoa will carry bulk water supplies and humanitarian and disaster relief stores,” said Peeni Henare.

“Water is among the highest priorities for Tonga at this stage and HMNZS Aotearoa can carry 250,000 litres, and produce 70,000 litres per day through a desalination plant.

“The survey and diving teams are able to show changes to the seabed in the shipping channels and ports. They will also assess wharf infrastructure to assure the future delivery of aid and support from the sea”.

Fundraising has stepped up.  The Aotearoa Tonga Relief Committee has been formed and is led by Labour MPs Jenny Salesa and ‘Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki.  They have a facebook page here.

From the Spinoff:

Kanongata’a-Suisuiki told The Spinoff that they’re currently waiting for a response from Tonga regarding what items are required, as well as finding avenues to have the containers transported to Tonga. “Our role is to provide opportunities for families here to send goods to their loved ones. We do accept monetary funds as well, in case people don’t want to buy items to donate.”

The Red Cross Society has also stepped up.  Again from the Spinoff:

The non-governmental organisation aims to prevent and alleviate human suffering in Tonga. One of its main focuses is on disaster management and it supports communities throughout Tongatapu, Ha’apai, Vava’u, ‘Eua and Niuas.

Donations will go towards providing access to safe and clean drinking water, as much of Tonga’s drinking water has been contaminated by saltwater inundation caused by tsunami waves and ashfall from the eruption. Shelter is also a concern, particularly for those communities near the coast line.

Tonga Red Cross teams are on the ground supporting evacuations, providing first aid if needed and distributing prepositioned (procured locally) relief supplies such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, shelter tool kits and hygiene kits for immediate need.

Donate to the Pacific Tsunami Appeal via Rīpeka Whero Aotearoa.

Tongan generosity as well as their commitment and contribution to Aotearoa New Zealand is legendary.  In 2010 the poor but proud Island Nation raised $705,000 to donate to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Fund.  If New Zealanders were to reciprocate their generosity we would donate over $30 million.

12 comments on “Let’s help Tonga ”

  1. Ad 1

    An advantage of Labour's Cabinet with lots of Polynesian origin leaders is speed of communication, rapid informal networks, and greater implied trust.

    Also an event playing to Ardern's strength in crisis management. Its 2022s first political gift, and when she needed it.

    • Patricia Bremner 1.1

      The swift response is because all the way through this Government has looked at the Pacific as our home area. The inclusion has been a pleasing part of governance. As with vaccination programmes, relief programmes will get good support from us. $6 a head is not too much to ask. That seems highly likely. The cost of a coffee.

      To make up for families who can't contribute, fortnightly donations until they are on their feet again seems the way to go, as in these times other types of fundraising prove difficult.

      The big concern is the people on the outlying islands closer to the blast. It is a frightening wait for families here.

      • GreenBus 1.1.1

        A door to door collection would be very well supported by kiwi's, especially by those with little to give. Tonga is like a distant state of NZ and the P.I population are great supporters of NZ. We should help them every which way we can.

      • Jilly Bee 1.1.2

        Countdown are running a Red Cross fundraiser – they are asking customers to top their amount up to the nearest dollar with a donation. My donation was about 40cents, so I made a separate donation as well today.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Yes this is AU/NZ's chance to make a real difference in the Pacific and at a crucial moment. Cyclones are bad enough, but this is a crisis beyond and demands our fullest support possible.

    Thanks for the post Mickeyyes

    • Tricledrown 2.1

      NZ and Australia need to look after their own backyard China will step in if they can.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        It's kind of sad to drag in politics into immediate human suffering like this – but yes you're right.

        • Jilly Bee 2.1.1.1

          Yes, but don't forget the monetary contribution the people of Tonga made to the Christchurch relief effort after the earthquake – in the vicinity of about $700,000.00. I saw a comment to this effect somewhere, yesterday, can't recall where.

          • fender 2.1.1.1.1

            The 705,000 dollar Tongan donation is mentioned in Mickys post above ^

            On a separate note, I hope Ken Ring(piece) is ashamed of his claim on his FB page that the tsunami was fake news.

  3. mary_a 3

    Pacific Island people have played a big part in contributing to NZ's industrial production sector for many, many years. They still are.

    Time for us to return some aroha and assist Tonga at this terrible time any way we can.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    The Pacific folk have always played fair by us – we support them however we can.

  5. Jenny how to get there 5

    Charity is good and we should give as much as we can.

    But let us do something even more immediate and practical to help those whose lives have been shattered by this disaster, and offer them refuge here.

    Imagine if a magnitude scale of disaster hit our nation. Because of our strong historical and familial links I would expect that our Pacific neighbors, especially Tonga, would welcome New Zealand refugees seeking shelter from the disaster.

    Lets us do the same. Let's welcome all Tongan refugees whose livelihoods and homes have been destroyed.

    I would like to see Prime Minister Ardern, working the local expat Tongan community here, immediately announce that all Tongan residents in imminent danger and hardship, in the wake of this ongoing disaster will be taken in and given residence here.

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