24 Feb 2011

Christchurch's Pacific community leaders say people seem ok after earthquake

3:43 pm on 24 February 2011

Leaders of Christchurch's Pacific community say although there's been damage to homes, people themselves seem have come through this week's earthquake.

Representatives of the Tongan and Fijian communities say help is being provided to those in need and a senior minister from a multi-cultural Pacific church says he's doing his best to arrange help for his congregation.

Annell Husband reports:

According to government figures from 2009, more than 62 percent of the South Island's Pacific population live in Canterbury - just over 11 and a half thousand people.

Poeple of Samoan ethnicity make up about half of that number but those of Cook Islands, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian and Tokelauan descent are also counted among Pacific people living in the city hit by Tuesday's magnitude six point three earthquake.

The vice president of the Tonga Canterbury Community Trust says although his organisation's still checking on Tongan people living there, he believes most are ok.

Petelo Moale says the community's spread all over the city but some people living in the Brighton and Aranui areas have badly damaged homes.

He says when he drove around those areas many of them had already left.

"The roads over there is not very good. It's big bumping and got holes on the road there yesterday, we were taking the truck there, the car can't go there, you need a four wheel drive to drive around there. So some of us today will do the same again, doing the rounds again to check up those we never see them yesterday. But some other Tongans, we not know, where they are so we going to find it out from the other people where they are to try and see if they are all right."

Petelo Moale says as aftershocks continue the 14 families camping at two centres in the suburb of Addington are glad to be together.

He says as well as checking whether people are OK he's in charge of delivering food and water to the centres.

Mr Moale says he's had to drive to Ashburton, a distance of 87 kilometres, to get supplies.

Because the bread at the supermarket here is all so empty, the supermarket in the water, so we had to go there yesterday and try to get some stuff from there. And we try to get some meat because meat is all so expensive.

The head elder in the Christchurch Fijian Seventh Day Avdentist Company says the majority of the Fijian population are well.

Abraham Wilson says between five and six hundred Fijians are registered with churches of different demominations in Christchurch and they're pretty much accounted for.

He says some of them have retained either running water or electricity but the church is looking after those in need.

The majority are OK, they are well, they have things that have been able to cater for them for that first day and evening. But by yesterday then they were told that you can go to certain places like Sanitarium, there were things that were being provided for them as well but otherwise in general they have been catered for.

The congregation of St Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church is made up largely of Samoans but also includes people from the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, and of Maori and European descent.

Its senior minister, Reverend Lapana Faletolu, says it's been difficult to get in touch with congregation members.

I know there are some people who have moved away from their homes, especially in the Bexley and Aranui area, which we are part of as well. And I know that people have shifted away from their homes and lived with friends or with members of the congregation or with their relatives and those are the people who we want to target and we want to see what we can do to help them.

Reverend Lapana Faletolu says in his view the St Paul's church building, which is registered with the Historic Places Trust and survived a fire in 2009 as well as last year's earthquake, is now a write-off.