14 Apr 2016

Many Fijians forced to live in 'unsafe' houses

9:06 am on 14 April 2016

Families in some Fijian villages are still waiting for tents and remain in badly damaged homes they say are dangerously unstable.

Solid concrete walls came down in Lavena Taveuni Island Fiji

Solid concrete walls came down in Lavena Taveuni Island Fiji Photo: Alex Perrottet/RNZ

In Lavena village on Taveuni island, Australian and Fiji government aid has been arriving, but so far only tarpaulins have been delivered, which need to be taken down when winds pick up.

Kelera Mere, the manager of the Lavena Coastal Walk and Lodge, said the New Zealand Rotary Club had pledged to rebuild the primary school, and currently children were learning under tarpaulins and in a small shed.

But Ms Mere said around 20 families had to recently find shelter with friends when Cyclone Zena hit.

"Maybe 20 families are living in that kind of building that is already shaken from the cyclone and last week we just had a little cyclone warning so they tried to move into the community hall and the church so their houses now are not secure. It's a very dangerous situation."

Remote Fiji village needs building supplies as tourists return

Kelera Mere said tourists were starting to return to the area but they had not been able to stay in the damaged lodge.

Ms Mere said the village needs a chainsaw to cut local timber for new homes.

She said around 50 visitors have come to visit the waterfalls, but they haven't been able to stay in the damaged lodge.

The income from the lodge helps local families, many of whom have lost their homes and are still living under tarpaulins.

Ms Mere said iron roofing supplies have run out and the village is also looking to build homes from local produce.

"Most families will need a tent, and we are running around looking for supplies from hardware, especially the roofing iron. The whole of Fiji's supply of roofing iron is running off. And we need a chainsaw to get the timber because there's a lot of timber in the part of Lavena and it's very expensive to get the timber in town."