Tongan Airbnb Evilla House ‘barely standing’ after tsunami

Rebecca Moore
Source: 1News

A home currently being used as an Airbnb, located on the waterfront in Nuku’alofa, has been in the Fetu’u family for more than 100 years. But a tsunami caused by a volcanic eruption near Tonga at the weekend gutted the beloved family treasure inside and out.

Evilla House Tonga Air BnB after a tsunami hit.

Photos show the extent of the damage to Evilla House Tonga Airbnb, which is now too unsafe to enter.

Eloise Po'uhila, who owns the lease on the property of her husband's cousin, told 1News they were devastated.

"We put our heart and soul into this family home which has been in our family for over 100 years, and are devastated it has been destroyed inside and out," she said.

"Even though we can rebuild and redo it, it's more so just the love of the house and the history behind it and how much it means to my husband's family, extended family members."

The tragedy comes soon after the building was renovated, with the intention to be for their families from overseas to visit Tonga and enjoy the "beautiful house in a beautiful location on a beautiful island", Po'uhila said.

"We spent all our last money on Evilla House... now it's gone. Yes, it is very sad for our family, our kids watching our dream just disappear just like that.

"We love it with a passion and taken nine months to renovate it and have it up and ready, but obviously the borders have been closed so it hasn't been utilised, and, yeah, and then this tragedy has happened.

"We would love to to rebuild but at this stage we don’t know what the future holds."

A before and after of Evilla House.

Po'uhila, who is from Auckland but now living in Brisbane, expected the damage to cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars but said she was fortunate to be insured.

"The house is non-repairable, it's barely standing," she said.

"We would love for the house to be there but it's only barely standing at the moment, there's only a couple of walls that are holding it up.

"The debris from the waterfront and the rocks from the foreshore have basically gone through the house and there's nothing in there basically, there's only a few walls holding it up."

Evilla House Tonga Air BnB damaged by a tsunami.

The home has a deep history for the family, having been one of the first BnBs and guest houses in Tonga.

But Po'uhila said when she first heard of the eruption and evacuations that followed around the waterfront via Facebook, her mind immediately went to friends and family who live nearby.

"We were really concerned for them and we couldn't really get through, and then we were basically just waiting for days to see what had happened.

"We were worried about our family and all our family and Tonga and different parts of Tonga too because we just didn't know the extent of it."

Thankfully, they had no family or friends injured in the tragedy.

However, three people have been confirmed dead after the tsunami struck the capital Nuku'alofa, following the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano on Saturday night.

Po'uhila was able to reach family in Tonga on Thursday to talk to them, who gave them the update on Evilla House.

"Tongan people are very resilient and I'm sure they'll get through this. It's just going to be a long process and Tongan people, they've got a lot of love from their families and everyone will pull together in different countries to help everybody out."

New Zealand's military is sending fresh water and other much-needed supplies to the island nation.