Mt Smart to be a drop off centre for Tonga care packages

Source: 1News

A newly-established relief committee is calling for donations and care packages to be sent to the people of Tonga.

Tonga was hit by a tsunami following a large eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano on Saturday.

Communication with Tonga has been limited due to power cuts and an undersea communications cable that was impacted.

The Aotearoa Tonga Relief Committee has been created to help families in New Zealand send care packages and support to their families back home in Tonga.

Jenny Salesa, the Tongan born-and-raised Labour MP for Panmure-Ōtāhuhu, is the co-chair of the committee, and told 1News they were establishing a base for care packages to be dropped off at Mt Smart Stadium.

They have received containers from Sir Michael Jones and Matson, which will be located at the stadium later in the week ready to be filled with supplies.

Salesa told 1News she expected the drop off site to be up-and-running "within the next two to three days".

While the main focus of the appeal was to assist Tongan families in New Zealand to send packages to their families in Tonga, Salesa also appealed to non-Tongans who wished to assist.

"We can take the likes of bottled water, grocery items, things to assist with cooking and in the garden, which can go to families in the villages that don’t have any relatives overseas.”

Grocery items could include rice, sugar and other pantry items that are long-lasting and unlikely to perish.

The committee are also open to monetary donations, which will be used to buy grocery items to be sent to the Tongan people.

New Zealand is sending two naval ships to Tonga, after ash on Nuku’alofa airport's runway prevented the landing of the Hercules flight that was scheduled to bring in aid.