15 Jan 2014

NZ council sets up Tonga fund

10:05 pm on 15 January 2014

The Tongan Advisory Council says it has set up a Ha'apai Relief Committee because the Tongan government has not requested any formal international help following Cyclone Ian.

The chair of the council, Melino Maka, says its members are concerned about friends and family in the Pacific nation, 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. It is also 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.

The category five storm, which killed one person and injured 14 others at the weekend, has displaced more than half of the population of 8000 in the country's northern Ha'apai islands and wiped out most of the food crops.