Chiefs join quest for cyclone aid

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 21/01/2013
Chiefs Super Rugby
Peter Drury/FAIRFAX NZ

Chiefs Super Rugby players Tim Naini-Williams , Fritz Lee, Moahonri Schwalger, Lelia Masanga, Back row August Pulu, and Bundee Aki.

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Tim Nanai-Williams is a self-proclaimed "mummy's boy", so when the Chiefs player found out Cyclone Evan had hit Samoa, his thoughts went straight to his beloved mum.

When he tried to contact his mother and couldn't, the 23-year-old immediately feared the worst.

"I just really wanted to hear her voice," he said. "I really couldn't function, I couldn't stop thinking about it."

More than a week later, when he finally got in contact with his mum, he felt relief, but the love he feels for the country has prompted action to get Samoa back on its feet.

The devastating cyclone claimed the lives of at least 15 people, injured thousands more and has left large parts of the country without homes, water or food.

The connection of many of the Chiefs to the country has led to the launch of an appeal for basics needs such as water, canned food and clothing.

The project is being driven by Chiefs players, former Samoan captain and hooker Mahonri Schwalger and Tim Nanai-Williams.

Schwalger spent two weeks in Samoa after the disaster and said he was shocked by the trail of destruction that Evan had left.

"I wasn't expecting it to be that bad. Instead of a cyclone it looked like a tsunami. The river blocked, so the water came out like a massive wave and we all lost our houses, it was just devastating."

The team asked fans to contribute anything they could, from clothes to canned food, but in particular, there was a desperate need for water.

"The biggest issue is that there is still no clean water and there was no power. We had over 100 people living in one house for a few days, not knowing what to do," Mr Schwalger said.

The pair are hoping to get a sponsor to fly the donated goods over to Samoa because shipping them over will take an extra couple of weeks.

"We really want to get it there as soon as we can," Mr Nanai-Williams said.

Former Chief Sonny Bill Williams has also arranged to donate a large number of his rugby boots to auction for the cause.

To donate bottled water, canned food, clothes, shoes or non-perishable items please send or deliver them to the Chiefs headquarters at Ruakura Research Centre,

East St, Hamilton or send to PO Box 4292, Hamilton East 3247 by Friday, January 25, labelled Samoan Appeal.

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