Invercargill community pitches in for Tonga

    Invercargill Tongan Trust members (from left) Taneisha Fifita, Soa Manu, Asipiuela Talakai, Tevita Taufa and Makalita Maka organise donations received by the community, which will be sent to Tonga.

    INVERCARGILL’S Tongan community has come together to collect more than 40 drums of donations to be sent to families affected by the devastating volcanic eruption in Tonga in January.

    Members of the Invercargill Tongan Trust gathered on Saturday to pack about 45 barrels with non-perishable foods water and clothing to be sent to Tonga by the end of the month.

    In January, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano off the coast of Tonga erupted, leaving the island nation dealing with the aftermath.

    Trust secretary Fuai’api Fiefia was pleased with the effort of the community.

    ‘‘We feel very blessed, knowing that we are living in a community in which everyone is looking out for each other.

    ‘‘People around the community, at work, were worried and asking how our family was — which was really comforting, to know that people care for you and were aware of what’s going on back home. It is beautiful to live in a community like that.’’

    Everyone in the Tongan community was connected through spirit, but it was really hard when they were not able to communicate with their loved ones some days, she said.

    A few months after the tragedy, Ms Fiefia said things were calmer there now — but people still needed a lot of help.

    ‘‘The feeling I got is that everyone [from the Tongan community] was affected by what happened.

    ‘‘We are doing the best we can from abroad with hope that what we are giving offers a bit of comfort for them.’’