Sadly, our Tongan neighbours are having a devastating start to the year.
Over the weekend of the 15th January, the violent eruption of the underwater Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano caused a major catastrophe for Tonga. The powerful eruption triggered tsunami waves and a gigantic ash cloud. With minimal communication from Tonga we are left worrying, and waiting to hear how widespread the destruction and damage may be.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Tonga at this time, and the Tongan community here in Aotearoa desperate to hear from friends and family.
Habitat responded to both Cyclone Gita and Harold with major repair programmes in Tonga. Once we have a better understanding of the needs on the ground we will be ready to support the people of Tonga with the reconstruction. Already, 23% of adults and 33% of children live below the poverty line. It will be these families hit hardest by the damage to shelter, infrastructure and access to necessities.
Habitat is a key non-government organisation providing disaster responses in Tonga. We are committed to the long-term building of shelter resilience within Tongan communities. In recent years we have worked alongside our partner, Caritas Tonga, to improve housing and construction skills with many Tongan families. We have been there before, and we will continue to support the people of Tonga to rebuild and foster resilience in the face of disaster.
We will keep you informed as we receive more information about the conditions and immediate needs for the people of Tonga.
Together, we will continue to support our Pacific neighbours in any way we can. Please join us in sending thoughts, prayers and best wishes to many thousands affected by this disaster.
To make a donation, visit: Tonga Appeal – Disaster Reponse – Habitat for Humanity New Zealand
Image: Defence Force Aerial