POPUA, TONGA – With the rainy season approaching, Habitat for Humanity is celebrating the first of many cyclone-resistant homes built in Tonga today, together with homeowners the Taufa family, and project partners the Kingdom of Tonga, Tonga Development Bank and Caritas Tonga.

Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Solaveni joined Habitat for Humanity, the President of Caritas Tonga, Cardinal Mafi, and Tongan government staff, volunteers and the Taufa family at today’s celebrations. “I am very grateful indeed to Habitat for Humanity New Zealand, Caritas Tonga, NEMO and the support from the Tonga Development Bank, in orchestrating this huge effort to implement this pilot project for the communities of Popua and Halaovave, including this house for the Taufa family. This is a major step forward in developing resilience and addressing poverty” he said.

Habitat NZ Chief Operating Officer Alan Thorp said that, alongside our commitment to addressing housing need in New Zealand, the NZ team also has a commitment to preparing Pasifika communities with stronger and safer homes to make them less vulnerable to the devastation that can come with each Pacific cyclone season. He thanked Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Solaveni for his significant support of this work.

This cyclone-resistant Habitat home is the first for Tonga, and also the 57th of Habitat’s 100 Homes for the Pacific programme. But “Habitat still needs support for this valuable work in Tonga” Mr Thorp said.

“We’re excited to say we’ve passed the half-way mark, and we’ve had hundreds of New Zealand volunteers sign up to help. With the memory of Tropical Cyclones Winston and Evan still raw, the time to act is now, before disaster strikes.”

Habitat is still looking for volunteers to help build homes in Samoa in November this year, and in February and March next year. See www.100homes.org.nz.

Saane Taufa said, “I am very thankful for this opportunity for me and my family… In our old house we were very scared of what might happen in a cyclone; even just in heavy rain we would get wet inside. But the building of this new house for our family makes us feel we will be safe with all our grandchildren. We want to thank all the organisations who have helped our family.”

Mr Thorp said Habitat was pleased to be able to work alongside the Taufa family and encouraged more New Zealand volunteers to put their hands up to help families in the Pacific.

Donate to the Habitat Fund for the Pacific: http://www.100homes.org.nz