‘We are all connected in spirit’

    Makalita Maka, of Invercargill, is anxiously waiting for news about her loved ones back home in Tonga.

    “WHATEVER happens, we stand together.”

    That is the feeling of Tongan woman Makalita Maka who has been living in Invercargill for more than 30 years.

    Born in Fasi, Mrs Maka is among thousands of people throughout New Zealand who are anxiously waiting for news from loved ones back in the island nation.

    Information remained scarce this week after Saturday’s large volcanic eruption and tsunami forced people in the island kingdom to rush to higher ground.

    Communications could be restricted for days or weeks after the potential rupture of a subsea communications cable.

    With tears in her eyes, Mrs Maka could not describe what she had been feeling in the past days.

    Her family’s home was on the waterfront in Nuku’alofa where family members were still residing.

    “I can only imagine they would be affected.

    “The waiting to hear and talk with our families in Tonga is hard. I cannot explain the feeling and the emotions our families are going through just here in Southland but all over the world.

    “Our faith is keeping everybody strong and we are all connected in spirit.”

    Mrs Maka works at Pacific Trust Otago and in the past few days she had been supporting families in the region.

    She has been trying to focus on her work as a way to cope with the anxiety of the whole situation.

    “I have to be together to be able to work and help them because if I pound on the emotion of still waiting to know… I would not be able to be here.”

    Major events like this affected the whole Tongan community across the globe, she said.

    The Tongan people were a tight-knit community so when someone was affected, everybody was affected and empathised with them, she said.

    “Whether it is my family or other families, the people in the islands, we feel for them.

    “Ko e fe’ofa’aki’ a kainga’ – through love, faith and as one family, we will support each other in this difficult time.”