Transport needed for Tongan aid

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 12:00 23/01/2014
Lyal Brenton,  of Methodist Social Services Goodwill shops, left, and Wesley Church parishioner Havea Langoia
DAVID UNWIN

GOODWILL CLOTHING: Lyal Brenton, of Methodist Social Services Goodwill shops, left, and Wesley Church parishioner Havea Langoia need a helping hand to get cyclone relief clothing to Tonga.

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New Zealand is providing another $1.4 million in aid as Tonga finally admits it needs international help, but getting a "warehouse full of clothes" from Palmerston North to cyclone victims is proving no easy task.

Methodist Social Services Goodwill manager Lyal Brenton said yesterday a search for space on a container had so far been unsuccessful.

"We haven't heard from anybody," he said.

The Manawatu Standard reported at the weekend that the Methodist Social Services Goodwill shops had a warehouse full of clothes and the volunteer resources to sort, select and pack them, but Mr Brenton was looking for a way to transport them.

He had hoped someone would allow the clothing to be piggy-backed with another shipment, or would pick up the freight cost. "We're definitely still looking," he said yesterday.

Mr Brenton said he had a meeting scheduled today "with somebody who's high up in the army", and he hoped there was the possibility of sending the clothing through them.

He said if there was space in a container leaving the port at Napier, he was able to drive the clothing there.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said yesterday New Zealand was providing another $1.4m to help Tonga, bringing the country's cyclone support to $1.9m.

Cyclone Ian struck Tonga two weeks ago, killing one person and leaving thousands homeless.

"Following a request from the Tongan Government, New Zealand will provide equipment and materials to help restore the electricity network on the affected islands of Ha'apai," Mr McCully said.

He said an offer had also been made to send New Zealand-based technicians.

"The cyclone has caused significant damage to electricity infrastructure, including power lines and transformers. Our contribution will cover resources needed to reconnect villages, including those on small outer islands."

His announcement came after Tonga's government formally asked for international help, admitting it lacked the resources to deal with the devastation.

National Emergency Office director Leveni Aho told Radio New Zealand Tonga had received aid through donor partners, but it had made an official appeal so agencies, including the United Nations, could help.

Mr Aho said there was a need for international expertise in food, water, sanitation and shelter.

Anyone able to help Mr Brenton transport the clothing can phone him on 06 350 1464 or 027 478 3760. He can be emailed at manager@pnmgoodwill.org.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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