CYCLONE WINSTON: Peseta and Jenny Salesa at the coalface – helping Fiji and Tonga recover
At the cabinet level, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has dedicated his Ministry of Pacific Peoples portfolio to support cyclone Winston relief efforts for Fiji.
“I have instructed my ministry to work with communities in Auckland and around the country to co-ordinate that help and ensure the right aid is being directed to where it is needed most,” Peseta announced late yesterday.
While at the coalface, getting her hands dirty amongst the Fiji and Tongan community is Manukau East and Labour MP, Jenny Salesa.
Mrs Salesa together with Fiji Association chairperson Mr John Kotoisuva are the principal contact points in a special working group that has been set-up. The two, who are members of the Auckland Mayoral Fund committee, were chosen by a 150-strong meeting of the Fijian community on Monday.
“We have formed a taskforce to work closely with communities here and co-ordinate the response from Auckland. The taskforce is providing logistical support and containers to transport goods collected by families here to their families in Fiji and Tonga,” said Mrs Salesa.
For Fiji, where the need is great, “we are also seeking donations from the public. We have identified the worst-affected villages and will send those contributions directly to those areas,” she said.
“Past experience shows that the most useful items to send are non-perishable food and bottled water, small garden tools, pots/pans, cooking utensils and fishing gear.”
There are two collection points at which families can deposit their donations she confirmed. Donations of goods from the community at large can also be left there to be shipped up to affected areas:
- City Impact Church, 385 Mount Wellington Highway, Mount Wellington, Auckland 1060; Tel (09) 477 0300
- Church Unlimited, 3 Te Atatu Road, Te Atatu, West Auckland 0602; Tel (09) 836 1294
The working group met for the first time Wednesday night to finalize the details of what items the working group would accept to load on to containers and other logistical details.
As the Tongan rep on the Mayoral fund, Mrs Salesa called a meeting of the Tongan community last night. Tonga also need help to recover from the impacts of cyclone Winston.
Mrs Salesa has become a critical contact point at the coalface in response efforts to the Pacific over the past years.
She was involved in when cyclone Ian caused major damage to Tonga’s Haapai community in January 2014.
“The Tongan community in Auckland elected me as Chair of the Ha’apai Relief Committee (HRC) and in that role, we filled 10 containers that were sent to Tonga and distributed on the ground in Ha’apai under supervision from members of HRC,” she told Pacific Guardians.