15 Jan 2014

NZ Tongan group creates own cyclone relief fund

3:01 pm on 15 January 2014

The Tongan Advisory Council in New Zealand says it has set up a Ha'apai Relief Committee following the Tongan government's refusal to ask for help after Cyclone Ian.

The chair, Melino Maka, says its members are concerned about friends and family there, so have taken relief efforts into their own hands.

Mr Maka says it is working with the Auckland Mayor's Fund to organise shipping containers of food to leave New Zealand on Monday.

He says it will also eventually send tools needed for the rebuild, and is planning fundraising concerts in Wellington and Auckland.

Mr Maka says the Council does not want to get involved with Tongan politics but is surprised at how long it is taking the government to assess the damage and ask for help.

"We were hoping that the government of Tonga start to think about the victims of Cyclone Ian before anything else, but i think our community has decided to do our own stuff by organising some containers and we are planning to send them leaving Auckland by Monday."

Melino Maka from the Tongan Advisory Council in New Zealand.