Queues taking four hours to process as generous public turn out for Tonga

Vaimoana Tapaleao and Zoe Holland, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 21 Jan 2022, 1:58pm
Western coastal area from Ha'atafu to Vakaloa in Tonga. (Photo / Supplied)
Western coastal area from Ha'atafu to Vakaloa in Tonga. (Photo / Supplied)

Queues taking four hours to process as generous public turn out for Tonga

Vaimoana Tapaleao and Zoe Holland, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 21 Jan 2022, 1:58pm

Hundreds of families have turned out to a fundraising appeal in Auckland to give food, water and supplies for the people of Tonga. 

The queues are taking three to four hours long to process - and, as a result, members of the public are being asked to come tomorrow morning instead. 

Tongan-born Kiwi MP Jenny Salesa posted a notice on her Facebook page just before midday, thanking those who had turned out to the event, at Mt Smart Stadium. 

"A general notice to all Tongans in Auckland who are heading to Mt Smart to send bottled water and non-perishable foods and grocery items to Tonga. 

"Please come back tomorrow morning instead. The queue and line of cars are 3-4 hours long already, so it would be better that you come back when we open up again in the morning. 

"We are truly grateful to all Tongan families who have come here today in their hundreds to send care packages to families affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami. Malo 'aupito moe 'ofa." [Thank you for your love]. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has pledged $25,000 to support disaster recovery efforts in Tonga following the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami. 

The support is provided from a charitable trust fund, set up for the purpose of disaster relief in the Pacific, which over time businesses, individuals and Auckland Council have contributed to. 

Goff said he is mindful that many in Auckland's large local Tongan community are concerned for family in Tonga. 

"When a natural disaster strikes those in our neighbourhood, it is the right thing to do to give a helping hand to those in need," Goff said. 

"We are mindful that with our large local Tongan community in Auckland, there are many in our city with close family ties to Tonga who will be concerned about their families' ability to meet basic human needs." 

Over the weekend, a volcanic eruption and tsunami rocked the Pacific nation and resulted in a large portion of the island being cut off from the outside world, with communication networks down. 

Goff said the council has offered technical expertise to help in the recovery, but this donation will support families and villages. 

The donation was made at a relief drive at Mt Smart Stadium attended by a number of MPs and councillors. 

Goff also delivered a personal donation of foodstuffs at the event to support those in need. 

New Zealand is one of the nations aiding Tonga after the eruption and tsunami. The New Zealand Defence Force's Hercules aircraft left Aotearoa for Tonga today, filled with urgent aid supplies, including water containers, temporary shelters and generators. 

Two RNZN ships left on Tuesday with supplies and survey equipment. 

Defence Minister Peeni Henare announced today a third Navy ship will go tomorrow to help in the relief efforts. 

Manukau councillor Alf Filipaina said thoughts were with everyone who has been affected. 

"Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the volcano and tsunami and our hearts go out to those families who have lost loved ones in this disaster or have sustained damage to their homes." 

How to donate - and what to donate 

The donation drive was organised by the Aotearoa Tonga Relief Committee, which is urgently seeking donations of non-perishable food and bottled water for the people of Tonga. Priority will be given for family-to-family donations. 

Donations can be dropped off at Mt Smart Stadium - via the Maurice Rd entrance - again tomorrow from 9am to 8pm. 

Basic food items and bottled water will be a priority, with donations of the following items preferred: 

  • bottled water
    • rice
    • flour 
    • cooking oil 
    • sugar 
    • cabin bread 
    • canned foods especially tinned fish and meat 
    • toilet paper 
    • tents, kerosene lamps, torches, rechargeable lanterns. 

Members of the public are reminded that vaccination passports will be required to enter Mt Smart Stadium. 

Red Cross NZ 

The New Zealand Red Cross has a fundraising appeal set up for Tonga and other tsunami-affected Pacific Island nations. 

"This is one of the worst eruptions the Pacific has experienced in decades. The eruption triggered a tsunami that destroyed homes and livelihoods along the coast of Tonga. 

"The full extent of damage to Tonga and many nearby islands is yet to be determined," the appeal page says. 

Anyone wishing to donate monetary funds via NZ Red Cross can go to: The tsunami appeal page on its website.