Vodafone NZ's philanthropic wing has given $15,000 to the Red Cross for emergency Tonga eruption relief.
And, with its parent, it has also pledged to match donations to a Givealittle page in a drive that could see up to $600,000 go to the disaster-hit country.
Vodafone and Te Rourou (the Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation) will both match donations made to the Pacific Tsunami Appeal Givealittle page meaning any public donations will effectively be tripled.
The pair will match donations up to a $200,000 cap.
Te Rourou head Lani Evans says the emergency grant will help the Red Cross, which has teams on the ground supporting evacuations, providing first aid if needed, and distributing prepositioned relief supplies such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, shelter tool kits and hygiene kits for immediate need. "Our emergency grant will help to ensure supplies are restocked, helping as many people as possible."
This follows similar, previous emergency fundraising efforts by Te Rourou and Vodafone such as in July 2021 when the two raised almost $470,000 for the Unicef Covid-19 Crisis in India Appeal by each matching $156,650 in donations, Evans says.
The Givealittle page and fund-raising drive come after Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees waiving charges for calls and texts to Tonga this week.
Communication with Tonga is remains difficult, however. The undersea cable that links the country to the outside world is offline, with initial analysis indicating a likely break some 37km offshore.
The closest repair ship is in Port Moresby around 4000km away. It is likely to take around a week to prepare and reach the site of the probable break, with actual repairs likely to take a further week – although Tonga Cable director Samiuela Fonua warns that further disruptions could delay the work, as the break is near the volcano.
A section of the cable network linking the main island of Tongatapu to other islands in the archipelago had also been cut about 50km from Nuku'alofa.
Fonua says backup satellite communications have been interrupted by the dust cloud.
The Tonga Cable director said the repair vessel, the CS Reliance, operated by US company TE Subcom, would repair both the international and domestic cable breaks.
Canterbury University Disaster Risk and Resilience researcher Thomas Wilson said earlier today that when there is about 2cm of volcanic ash fall, which is being reported on Nuku'alofa, roads would become sticky and ash could short circuit electrics.
"Giving that there was heavy rain yesterday, that was probably a good thing given that it would have washed a lot of that ash off electrical infrastructure," Wilson said.
- by Chris Keall