A wave of support to Samoa from Nelson

Phil Fa'avae with a copy of the Samoa Observer with the article on the donation from Nelson to the Poutasi Development Trust.
Marion van Dijk

Phil Fa'avae with a copy of the Samoa Observer with the article on the donation from Nelson to the Poutasi Development Trust.

A final gift from the Nelson community has brought closure to a heartfelt campaign to help Samoa.

While the 2009 tsunami that killed more than 140 people, injured hundreds and wrecked villages may seem a distance memory to many, it's only now that closure has been brought to a relief fund in Nelson.

Filemoni (Phil) Fa'avae has just returned to Nelson from Samoa after delivering a $10,000 donation to the Poutasi district.  At the presentation of the giant cheque for 18,000 tala to Poutasi Development Trust representatives, Fa'avae and his sisters Tua and Miriama held a framed photograph of his wife, Jan.

Jan Fa'avae was the driving force in the relief fund, Star, Samoa Tsunami Aid Relief.
Phil Barnes

Jan Fa'avae was the driving force in the relief fund, Star, Samoa Tsunami Aid Relief.

It was Jan Fa'avae who was a driving force in the campaign, forming a relief fund called Star, Samoa Tsunami Aid Relief.

``When the tsunami hit we asked al Samoans in Nelson to get together to do something to help in the islands - it was devastating what happened," he said.   ``When we watched the scenes on TV everybody's hearts were there."

It wasn't just Samoans who wanted to help, other Pacific islanders in Nelson came forward and the whole Nelson community, he said.

They filled three containers with building supplies and household necessities which were shipped to Samoa.

Fa'avae said they decided to hold the $10,000 until the crisis settled down so they could work out how to use it wisely.

However, another tragedy, the car accident in which Jan Fa'avae died in 2013, meant a delay.

Last year Poutasi chief Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale came to Nelson and presented the Fa'avae family with a plaque in memory of her support of the people in Poutasi.

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"She was always helping," said Filemoni.  "That was how I met her, she went to Samoa as a teacher and started kindergartens."

Back in Samoa he was able to visit the kindergarten teachers and children.  He also saw the concrete scars of buildings destroyed by the tsunami, and said people had moved inland, not wanting to live on the coast.

The Nelson donation will be used to furnish a big hall that has been built for the Poutasi district. 

"Jan would be proud," he said.

He said he wanted Nelson people to know how the money they donated was being used, and that the Poutasi people were grateful.

"It's taken a long time for things to happen, with the accident that cost Jan's life.  Now I feel it's time clear Jan's name, and time to move on and put a bit of closure."

 - Stuff

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