Tonga

Shelter for people in Tonga the top priority

Cyclone Gita swept through the Tongan islands of 'Eua and Tongatapu leaving most people without power and water and others without a home, three days ago.

Nearly 200 homes were completely destroyed on the islands of Tongatapu and 'Eua but Emergency Management director, Leveni 'Aho, said he knows there were a number of other people whose homes are without a roof.

It has been raining intermittently in the country since Cyclone Gita struck and Mr 'Aho said this made it even more important to reach those people.

Tonga's parliament to meet at new venue

The recovery effort continues in the Kingdom after Cyclone Gita tore through the Tonga on Monday.

The Speaker of the House, Lord Fakafanua, made the announcement saying in the spirit of resilience, the parliament would temporarily sit at the Nuku'alofa based convention centre.

The now destroyed parliament had been used since 1892 and was in the past also used as a judicial court house.

The next session of parliament is set to begin on March 5.

NZ sends disaster relief supplies

The New Zealand Defence Force said agriculture tool kits, family hygiene kits, collapsible water containers, tarpaulins, generators and chainsaw packs were all on board.

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said he hoped the supplies would provide basic power, water and sanitation for people.

He said there was also equipment to clear fallen trees.

Most of Tonga remained without power and running water in the wake of Gita.

Derek Leonard owns and runs a coffee plantation in Veitongo - a small rural village in the middle of Tongatapu.

Transparency trumps speed in Tonga relief effort

A convoy of eight trucks manned with Emergency Management personnel, military, National Youth Congress members and Caritas aid agency staff wove its way to the north-eastern districts of Tongatapu on Friday.

Half of the villages that needed assistance were still waiting, and Emergency Management Office Director Leveni 'Aho had already expressed concern about the speed of the distribution.

But transparency trumps speed in the process at the moment.

Taufatofua's result a success for Tonga

Competing in only his sixth major race, the 34 year-old completed his run in 56 minutes and 41 seconds.

Pita Taufatofua, who took up cross-country skiing just over a year ago, finished ahead of four other competitors in South Korea, and more than 23 minutes behind the gold medallist, Dario Cologna from Switzerland.

Head of Sport for the Royal Tonga Ski Federation, Steve Grundmann, said it was a fantastic race by the double Olympian.

He said Pita Taufatofua paced his way perfectly around a difficult course and even had a smile on his face.

China provides disaster relief assistance to Tonga

The fund will assist in rehabilitation following the devastation of Cyclone Gita on Tongatapu and Eua earlier this week.

China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Wang Yi sent a message to Prime Minister, a day after Cyclone Gita hit Tonga extending heartfelt sympathy to the Government and people of Tonga, vowing that China is ready to provide emergency disaster relief assistance within its capacity, and believing that with the joint efforts of the Tongan government and people, Tonga will be able to overcome the disaster and rebuild the country.

From Rio Games to Winter Olympics, Pita Taufatofua takes on cross-country ski

Two years ago, he was marching into the Rio summer Games carrying the Tongan flag shirtless and sporting an oily torso - last week, at sub zero temperatures, he did the same in South Korea at the Winter Olympics.

His taekwondo dream ended in a 19-1 opening-round defeat in Brazil and having turned to the snow Taufatofua's ambitions are to "finish before they turn the lights off" and "don't ski into a tree".

Fears over deportations to cyclone-ravaged Tonga

Immigration New Zealand said today there were no imminent planned deportations to Tonga, and it would take a pragmatic and compassionate approach to the issue.

"INZ always takes into account all the circumstances in an individual case before going ahead with any deportations, including the effects of Cyclone Gita," a spokesman said.

But Richard Small said while deportations may be suspended for a short period, officials needed to think about how long it would take for countries to recover from natural disasters.

'We need to prepare ourselves to rebuild and renew'

Despite this, people in the kingdom are still maintaining good spirits.

In the main street of Nuku'alofa, Tafi led a group of half a dozen young men, sweeping the road and collecting debris from the footpaths.

Tafi was doing this despite the fact his own house was completely destroyed by Cyclone Gita.

"We've been looking for and seeking assistance from our family overseas - if they can provide financial support to build a new house," he said.

Tafi didn't mind doing what he regards as his civic duty while he was effectively homeless.

Tonga's King calls for closer cooperation to tackle cyclone damage

In his royal address to the kingdom, King Tupou said the normal procedure for him is to receive information before and after a severe tropical cyclone.

Radio Tonga reports this time he listened together with everyone else in the country to the information provided by radio stations.

King Tupou said he waited until the roads were cleared of branches and debris before he toured the eastern villages on Wednesday, and yesterday he visited the central districts eastern villages of Popua, and Patangata and Nuku'alofa.