Cyclone Gita

NZ taxpayers funding repairs to 300 storm-damaged homes in Tonga

It was described as the worst storm to hit Tonga in about six decades. 

Melino Maka, a leader of Auckland's Tongan community, says he's struggled to access information about aspects of the work being done to repair damaged homes in Tonga. 

Maka says he's been contacted by about 20 people in Tonga who have questions about the efforts and he's tried unsuccessfully through various channels to get them answers, he says. 

“When people don't get information they start to speculate. 

Digicel Tonga helps rebuild staff homes

The employees were given vouchers from Pacific Timber Hardware by Digicel Tonga CEO, Ben Kealy.

They will be able to pick up building supplies from PTH to rebuild their homes. 

Digicel Tonga employee, Asiate Vaka expressed her appreciation to Kealy and the company for the assistance.

A cake was cut to acknowledge the new journey that the staff would be embarking on as they rebuild their homes.


Photo by Digicel Tonga      

Tonga to invest US$15 million to fix cyclone-damaged schools

The government said 109 of Tonga's 150 schools were damaged affecting 23,000 students at all levels of education.

It has announced a strategy to repair, retrofit and reconstruct both government and non-government schools so they can return to normal for their students as soon as possible.

So far half a million US dollars has been spent on the repair of government schools and a relief grant of $US1.5 million has been given to non-government schools for minor repairs and fixing water and sanitation.

Gita caused $US156 million in damages in Tonga

The ministry's chief executive Balwyn Fa'otusia said 5,499 properties received minor damage, 1,028 were majorly damaged and 469 houses were completely destroyed.

She said the government was providing material and labour for repairs, while about 250 damaged properties are still yet to be fixed.

Matangi Tonga reported the six month emergency period when people can import duty free construction materials, runs for another three months.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Education said 29 school buildings in Tonga will have to be rebuilt.

Tonga’s central bank assesses impact of Cyclone Gita on economy

According to the National Reserve Bank it will reduce financial growth in the short term, but will also boost foreign reserves.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr. Sione Ngongo Kioa told the bank’s board of directors’ meeting earlier this month that domestic economic activities in February 2018 were affected by the devastation by tropical cyclone Gita.

Kioa said this would also be reflected in the economic activities of upcoming months.

Māori King calls for aid to help Cyclone-struck Tonga

King Tuheitia Paki's son, Te Ariki Tamaroa has just returned from the island kingdom.

Now Waahi Pa in Huntly has opened its doors to receive donations.

Feeding and caring for people is a traditional practice at Waahi Paa.

“Since the inception of the Poukai, our practice is to help the widows, destitute and needy,” says spokesperson Hone-Haunui Rapana.

“So we as Māori are fortunate to have this opportunity to help our Pacific Island relations”.

Tonga A's Pacific Challenge campaign hampered by Gita

The Tongans have lost consecutive games handsomely and sit at the bottom of the four team table with one round to go.

But Fatani said the cyclone really disrupted their preparation and led to a less than ideal tournament.

"Hurricane Gita hit us and affected our preparation.

"That whole week we didn't have any training at all," he said.

"So I was concerned about fitness, a lack of fitness, we had no time to catch up with the boys and train before we came to the tournament."

Grant from ILO for Tonga Gita victims

The grant agreement has been signed by the Ministry of Labour CEO, Edgar Cocker, for the first batch of the Community-Based Emergency Employment pilot programme.

Mr Cocker said the objective was to support those who had lost income and to improve food security.

The Nukunuku district officer Sione Kata said many people in 'Utulau earned money from selling produce.

Mr Kata said the financial assistance would help the growers to get back on their feet following the storm.


Food quality, education concerns weeks after Gita hit Tonga

Health officials have inspected 48 shops on the island of Tongatapu, and found more than 20 have food items no longer fit for human consumption.

About two tonnes of meat products have been disposed of because they were not fit to be eaten.

Crops have also been severely affected. 55 hectares of cassava plantation and 15,000 coconut trees have been destroyed, according to the assessment.

Meanwhile, an education report says nearly 300 students need help getting to school, after some schools were moved to other locations.


Europe gives more post-cyclone assistance to Tonga

Gita hit Tonga a month ago as a category four cyclone, leaving widespread destruction, particularly to the country's agriculture sector.

The EU gave an initial $US120,000 in post-cyclone assistance to Tonga last month.

A European humanitarian aid operations expert was also deployed to take part in a rapid assessment of the situation.

According to a statement from the EU's regional office in Fiji, the assessment indicates there are still many humanitarian needs to be addressed.