NZ weightlifter David Liti waits to hear from family in Tonga

Source: 1News

The tsunami which hit Tonga has sent shockwaves through the sporting community in New Zealand.

With communications down, a number of athletes are trying to track down relatives in the islands, such as Olympic weightlifter David Liti.

Liti, like many, hasn't heard anything from the Kingdom after the eruption of the underwater Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano, about 65km north of the capital Nuku'alofa on Saturday, which shot thick ash and steam 20km skywards.

It also generated a tsunami, with Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu – where Liti’s mum and dad are – the worst hit by the natural disaster.

“You just hope they’re okay,” Liti told 1News before losing his words.

“You keep going online because you can’t sleep,” his sister Finau Funaki added.

“There were a few posts on Facebook [from Tonga]… it sort of calms us when they say there’s not much damage but you never know until you get official announcements.”

When he's not representing New Zealand on the global stage, Liti spends most of his time with his parents in Tonga.

They sent videos just after the eruption showing rocks raining down on their house but then the communications went down and the waves rolled in.

While they wait for any kind of sign from loved ones, Liti has a message for those affected.

“We might be small in numbers and small in land but we conquer a lot of things in life,” he said.

“[Saturday] was a tragic day but it just shows that it's another day to win a battle.

“I don't think a lot of people understand how much love we have for our small nation.”

Other sports stars were waiting for news last night with Tongan Olympic hero Pita Taufatofua also losing contact with his family on the islands of Ha'apai.

His father - the Governor of Ha'apai - was securing their home when the tsunami struck, with no news on his whereabouts.

"Still no word from my father or family," Taufatofua has posted on Instagram. "All communications from Tonga are still down after yesterdays volcanic eruption and tsunami."