Pacific island community rallies after Cyclone Gita

GISBORNE SUPPORT FOR CYCLONE FAMILIES: Gisborne Pacific Island Community Trust life member Theodosia Niania says local families are doing what they can to help their loved ones who were affected by Cyclone Gita earlier this week. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell.

GISBORNE'S Pacific island community has rallied to help loved ones affected by Cyclone Gita.

The tropical cyclone smashed its way through the South Pacific this week, hitting Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, sweeping past Vanuatu and is now heading towards New Zealand.

Gita hit Tonga the hardest, and it was the worst storm it has had in 60 years. The island was left in ruins with buildings flattened and many trees had either fallen or snapped.

Samoa suffered widespread flooding and many trees were brought down.

Fiji avoided the destruction seen in Tonga, but in the southern islands homes were razed and damaged and crops lost.

Gisborne Pacific Island Community Trust life member Theodosia Nia Nia said it had been a nerve-wracking time for local families as they watched the news and tried to communicate with their family back home.

“When we first heard the news, everyone was very nervous," she said.

"But when we heard from our families, and heard that they were safe, it was a huge relief.”

Despite the amount of damage to buildings and vegetation, families were grateful there was no loss of life.

“They’re still breathing and that’s what we are most thankful for,” said Mrs Nia Nia.

Gisborne church groups, especially from the Tongan community, have gathered daily for prayer services and meetings.

The Tongan community is the largest of the Pacific island communities in Gisborne.

“The various church groups we have here in Gisborne have been looking at ways to help. This is mainly by sending money back to our families, villages and church groups.

“I love the spirit of the Pacific island community. They’re always willing to help. That’s what we do. We always like to look after our own.”

Prayer is an important part of Pacific island culture, and it has been vital in lifting the spirits of the people, said Mrs Nia Nia.

“Faith is the main thing that has got everyone through. That spirit has spread throughout the whole of the Pacific.

“The worry was there for our families back home and for us here, but because of our faith, we got by. They’ve lost so much but they’re just so grateful to be breathing.”

Asides from local churches, the trust’s office has been another place where Gisborne families have found comfort.

“People come in just to talk and share how they feel, how relieved they are to know their families are safe.

“We support one another and show encouragement. It uplifts our communities and families.

“It’s just amazing when you see and hear of the amount of damage. It’s hard to believe that they survived. But now there is a long road to recovery and we will continue to do what we can to support our families.”



GISBORNE'S Pacific island community has rallied to help loved ones affected by Cyclone Gita.

The tropical cyclone smashed its way through the South Pacific this week, hitting Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, sweeping past Vanuatu and is now heading towards New Zealand.

Gita hit Tonga the hardest, and it was the worst storm it has had in 60 years. The island was left in ruins with buildings flattened and many trees had either fallen or snapped.

Samoa suffered widespread flooding and many trees were brought down.

Fiji avoided the destruction seen in Tonga, but in the southern islands homes were razed and damaged and crops lost.

Gisborne Pacific Island Community Trust life member Theodosia Nia Nia said it had been a nerve-wracking time for local families as they watched the news and tried to communicate with their family back home.

“When we first heard the news, everyone was very nervous," she said.

"But when we heard from our families, and heard that they were safe, it was a huge relief.”

Despite the amount of damage to buildings and vegetation, families were grateful there was no loss of life.

“They’re still breathing and that’s what we are most thankful for,” said Mrs Nia Nia.

Gisborne church groups, especially from the Tongan community, have gathered daily for prayer services and meetings.

The Tongan community is the largest of the Pacific island communities in Gisborne.

“The various church groups we have here in Gisborne have been looking at ways to help. This is mainly by sending money back to our families, villages and church groups.

“I love the spirit of the Pacific island community. They’re always willing to help. That’s what we do. We always like to look after our own.”

Prayer is an important part of Pacific island culture, and it has been vital in lifting the spirits of the people, said Mrs Nia Nia.

“Faith is the main thing that has got everyone through. That spirit has spread throughout the whole of the Pacific.

“The worry was there for our families back home and for us here, but because of our faith, we got by. They’ve lost so much but they’re just so grateful to be breathing.”

Asides from local churches, the trust’s office has been another place where Gisborne families have found comfort.

“People come in just to talk and share how they feel, how relieved they are to know their families are safe.

“We support one another and show encouragement. It uplifts our communities and families.

“It’s just amazing when you see and hear of the amount of damage. It’s hard to believe that they survived. But now there is a long road to recovery and we will continue to do what we can to support our families.”



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