Volleyball gets a hand up - Tue 16
Taio ships goods free - Tue 16
Aitutaki fund hits $200,000 - Tue 16
Govt urged to go with Habitat - Sat 13
Call for clothing - Tue 9 March
Appeal fund wants maximum benefit - Mon 8 March
Radiothon funds missing - Thu 4 March
Cyclone appeal banks $127,000 - Wed 3 Mar
Aitutaki a critical fire hazard - Sat 20 Feb
Food stall fundraiser a huge success
Manihiki and Melbourne join the appeal - Fri 19 Feb
Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Update - Thu 18
Aitutaki relief committee to consolidate fundraising - Wed 17 Feb
On Wednesday February 9 Cyclone Pat struck the island of Aitutaki with winds travelling at 100-180-knots-per-hour. Government’s initial estimate of the damage is NZ$12million but this is expected to rise.
Aitutaki is the second most visited island in the Cook Islands, second only to the main island of Rarotonga Many will remember Aitutaki and her 2000 people for its lagoon and beautiful beaches, since tourism is the backbone of the economy.
On February 14 the leaders of the Aitutaki Association on the main island of Rarotonga put in place an Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal committee, led by George George, to spearhead a national and global fundraising drive.
Chair: George George (682) 55898
Vice-Chair: Vaitoi Tupa 55957
Sec/Media: Flo Syme-Buchanan: 55944;
Media: Ulamila Kurai Wragg: 55999, Vaine Marsters: 72029
Friends, families and admirers of this beautiful island are invited to lend a hand to this fundraising drive. Donations can be forwarded to:
||Westpac Banking Corporation, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
|| Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal
Chair: Aitutaki Enua Society Inc
27 Grove Rd, Papakura
(64) 027 676 288
Chair: Cook Islands Community State of Victoria
The chances of holding this year’s much anticipated Aitutaki Volleyball Tournament looked pretty grim following the cyclone.
But thanks to sponsorship by Cook Islands News – the event will be staged and be a “wonderful boost for the islands’ morale and our young people,” says ACA chairman George George.
“Cook Islands News has been behind the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal from day one, has been really supportive of our initiatives and introduced one of their own, that 50 cents from every newspaper sold over a certain timeframe would go towards a Aitutaki community project.”
George says the gesture by the local daily newspaper is “really charitable...the community has been devastated and through the island-wide tournament, they can all get some welcome, healthy diversion from their experiences and the damage that cyclone Pat wrecked.”
George says the rest of the country would love to see wide photographic coverage of the sports event in the local paper and on the ACA webpage, also made possible and hosted by Cook Islands News.
Three pick-up trucks full of clothing, linen and footwear were loaded on board Te Koumaru and are bound for Red Cross in Aitutaki.
Aitutaki Red Cross will be responsible for distributing the goods which were donated by “...generous people on Rarotonga who responded to a call for clothing, bedding and shoes,” says Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal committee vice-chairman Vaitoti Tupa.
He says the ACA was advised by Aitutaki Red Cross of the need for these items and thanks to the support of Taio Shipping, the goods are expected to be on the way Tuesday March 16.
“We asked Josiah Taio (Taio Shipping manager) if he could help us get the stuff across and he didn’t hesitate at all to ship it all at no cost and also offered to provide bins so the goods would be safer.”
The ACA committee is grateful to all the people who answered the call for support and delivered their goods to the Aitutaki Hostel. Meitaki atupaka!
| Taio Shipping lends a hand to ship secondhand clothes to Aitutaki for Red Cross. 10031521
The Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal fund now stands at a total of $200,095 – understood to be the largest amount of money raised in the country through public donations.
The ACA committee is aiming to hand over all accounts to the audit office to examine and verify by the end of this week.
There is $185,065 banked in Westpac Bank, with a further $15,030 in the ACA account at BCI. ACA treasurer Nga Takaiti says the BCI account was set up to make it easier for the outer islands to transfer their donations.
Takaiti says outstanding radiothon pledges now total around $10,000 down from $24,000. He confirmed that the committee is writing off any pledges that have not been honoured.
“We are now making double checks and finalising our report for the audit office, and once checked by audit we plan to publicise the results.”
Funds raised by Aitutaki communities overseas have yet to be deposited into the ACA account.
Takaiti confirmed that some cyclone relief fundraising activities, such as that held at the Pasifika Festival in New Zealand, are without the knowledge or input of the ACA committee.
“So we can’t be certain how they intend to manage the funds which they have raised for Aitutaki cyclone relief from public donations.”
Aitutaki appeal group member says avoiding delays is critical
Outspoken Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Committee member Doreen Kavana Boggs says government is urged to make a commitment to the Habitat for Humanity Aitutaki rebuilding programme to avoid delays in getting people housed.
She says the government can inject much needed cash into the local economy by paying the wages of locals to work on the building project.
Boggs believes that if government chooses to rebuild homes another way, it is likely that the project will need to be tendered.
“We’re talking about the need to tender for the supply of building supplies, the actual building of close to 80 homes, this will most likely take months to be resolved and in the meantime, people have no homes.”
She reiterates an earlier warning made by police that keeping the morale of people positive must be ensured so they remain on the island.
“Unnecessary delays could see them become despondent.”
According to Boggs, people need to be motivated to “move on” and the rebuilding programme would help them do that.
“Business people are making a huge effort to get things back on track and there are pretty good tourist numbers. Those business people are really committed to seeing the island back to normal.”
Boggs returned this week from a three-day visit to Aitutaki to assess the current situation and report back.
“The stories I was told by people of their frightening experiences, it was very traumatising for many,”
She says at the height of the cyclone, people described the noise similar to the roar of a huge jet aircraft being outside their homes.
“Because of the sheer force of the wind, some big men were telling me they were unable to close the doors to their homes, doors and windows were being ripped out and huge mango trees snapped like toothpicks.”
Boggs’ visit was planned to coincide with that of representatives from Habitat for Humanity – a non-profit Christian organisation that has offered to initiate a rebuilding programme similar to that undertaken in other disaster areas. Habitat built a total of 66,000 homes last year.
“They are ready to commence rebuilding the category four homes, a total of 78 houses that need to go up for families without shelter anymore, but they are waiting to see if government will approve their assistance programme.”
The ACA committee is also recommending that government insist on stringent quality control for materials and workmanship during the mass rebuilding programme.
“People were showing me the roofing iron that they purchase locally and which had been ripped off the houses, they were slicing through it with a machete...that tells me that it’s not strong enough.”
Boggs reports that the island has no fruit or vegetables on the island, but an agriculture programme is well underway and vegetable seedlings
are being planted all over the island.
The Seventh Day Adventist school has suffered extensive damage with just a blackboard left standing in one building. Meanwhile Araura College needs to be secured to ensure it is safe for students, says Boggs.
The Aitutaki Red Cross office says secondhand clothing and footwear in good condition would be very welcomed by families there who lost everything during Cyclone Pat.
Aitutaki Red Cross coordinator Leon Tuara says they will be having an “open day” later this week where families can get clothing from the organisation’s office.
Anyone in Rarotonga with secondhand clothing they wish to donate can drop these off at the ACA office at Aitutaki Hostel after 1pm each day. People are asked to ensure that the donated items are clean and in good condition.
Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Committee will close the books on March 10
A simple process and policy is now being developed to ensure that the usefulness of funds collected by the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal committee is maximized for the cyclone damaged island.
Using the funds wisely and to maximum impact is what the committee wants to achieve, reassures chairman George George.
To date $146,935 has been raised and banked in the ACA Westpac account. About $15,000 in unpaid radiothon pledges remain outstanding.
George says the committee wishes to close its books at the end of the business day on Wednesday March 10 with a final reconciliation done on Friday. Any outstanding radiothon pledges not received by Wednesday will be written off.
“There’ve been some negative comments and gossip about the fund – the public are reassured that it is safe and will be used on an area where our people in Aitutaki will gain the most benefit.”
The committee has sought advice from Aid Management head Garth Henderson who is familiar with dealing with funding projects.
“Being part Aitutakian, Garth also has a vested interest in
seeing that the money we have raised is used in the best
possible way or ways, and he
has given us some excellent advice.”
Henderson has told the committee to proceed cautiously and to choose a project or projects that will benefit those in the most need and are long lasting. He is assisting with the development of a process and policy that the committee will use as a guideline for fund distribution.
Committee member Doreen Boggs, who is also on the finance team, is scheduled to be in Aitutaki on Monday March 8 to meet with Aitutaki Red Cross, schools, island council and will assess the current situation. She will report back to the committee on her return. George says this will help the committee make a more informed decision on how best to assist. Boggs is travelling at her own expense on a special fare kindly provided by Air Raro.
Cost estimates of total damage and labour is approximately $21 million. “What we have managed to raise through the generosity of our people is like a drop in a bucket, so we must target it to the best use, make a big difference and lasting impact,” says George.
“The most important thing is to make wise, good choices, we on the committee are all accountable.”
George confirmed that a master list of all donors and the amounts they have contributed is being completed so that everyone who has given to the appeal is recorded.
People wishing to honour radiothon pledges they have made are asked to please take their donation to Nga Takaiti upstairs at the Westpac Bank by Wednesday.
An estimated $24,000 in pledges made during the national Radiothon on Radio Cook Islands remains outstanding and an urgent request is being made by the Aitutaki Cyclone Committee for callers to honour their commitment.
Chairman George George says his team is now phoning people who made pledges to ask them to please bring them in as soon as possible to ACA treasurer Nga Takaiti at Westpac bank.
“The public responded very enthusiastically to the Radiothon and were very generous which resulted in the Radiothon raising $55,000 in pledges but $24,000 of that still has to be paid,” George said.
The Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal’s bank account now stands at $127,239.26 and a decision is yet to be carried out by the islanders on how the
money would be spent.
Appeal committee treasure Nga Takaiti says $24,292 is yet to be collected from the radiothon out of the total $71,630 that was pledged to the
three local radio stations during the radiothon.
The appeal committee was formed by the Rarotonga Aitutaki Association a few days after Cyclone Pat ravaged Aitutaki last month.
Takaiti and his finance team will table an interim financial report to the committee this Friday paving the way for the parent body to start
discussions on how money would be used.
Takaiti says that so far they have collected and banked some monies from radiothons, food sales at the Atukura Ground, donations collected at the
Punanga Nui Market, contributions from taperes or villages and some odd donations from members of the public and tourists.
“Our appeal committee will not make that decision as to how money will be spent. We were tasked by the big association to carry out a
national and global appeal to collect funds and we are doing just that.
“We are collecting monies and organising donated goods on behalf of the people of Aitutaki,” said Takaiti.
“Once we finalise our books and interim financial report is given and approved by the cyclone appeal committee, we can then say that the
money is there please proceed with finding ways to use the money on the island.”
Takaiti says the biggest challenge is reconciling all receipt books given the high number of donations.
“We want to make sure that all monies received are receipted that’s why we have so many receipt books to cross check with the money
collected. We do not want to miss out any name. They are hard earned money and those donating must be appreciated.”
However, Takaiti said they have yet to work on donations that went into the bank account directly from overseas.
| Emergency Management director Charles Carlson (left) with Aitutaki Hospital doctor Ko Ko and Air Force Squadron Leader Kaveriri Tamariki at the Aitutaki hospital where the army is stationed for 14 days. 10021606
Aitutaki cyclone appeal update 3
While Aitutaki makes some progress towards recovery from cyclone devastation, widespread fire is the new potential disaster that now faces the decimated island.
With extremely dry conditions, most vegetation destroyed and huge uprooted trees scattered all over the island, Superintendent Taivero Isamaela says the biggest concern now is fire.
“The whole island is brown and barren and this is a very real potential disaster for Aitutaki...the fire danger is critical and people need to be extremely careful at this time.”
Four extra police officers have been stationed on Aitutaki, boosting numbers to seven. Isamaela says their primary focus now is to keep warning people about the extremely high fire risk and maintain a constant watch.
“We have warned that there must be absolutely no unnecessary lighting of fires, if this has to be done, do it in a cleared area away from any danger of spreading and monitor it all the time,” cautions Isamaela. He says police in Rarotonga will be regularly broadcasting this reminder to Aitutaki residents.
Following an inspection of Aitutaki this week, Taivero estimates that 80% of trees were ripped out or stripped bare by cyclone winds. The surviving 20% he says are coconut trees.
Aitutaki airport has two fire trucks of 2400 and 9000 litre capacity. Airport Authority CEO Joe Ngamata says the fire trucks are specifically designed to deal with aircraft fires and that is their first priority.
He confirmed that the trucks would be available to attend to fires in the community if there are no planes landing or taking off at the time.
Giving permanent shelter to the Aitutaki families who lost their homes is essential to keep their morale positive so they don’t leave the island, says Superintendent Taivero Isamaela.
“Obviously they all appreciate the temporary shelter arrangements, the tents and tarpaulins that have been provided, but it would take just a 30 knot wind to blow these down.”
Iron roofing he says is one of the priorities for the island.
Isamaela says islanders are trying their best to clear the island of the enormous amount of debris, but the magnitude of the task is quite overwhelming. “They really need the help of more able bodied people on the island to help with clearing.”
He says while the recovery programme is underway, “of course it is not happening as fast as the people on the island would like, they really need their lives to get back to normal as quickly as possible.”
After visiting the island this week, Isamaela says it was evident that many people were still traumatised. It’s been reported that children are the worst affected and counsellors have been flown in to the island.
“My first reaction when seeing the island was one of shock, it was one of the worst scenes of destruction I have seen.”
- Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Media Team
| Lined up for raffle. 10021922
The Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Committee called yesterday’s fundraising efforts hugely successful.
The food stall at Te Atukura drew a sizeable crowd and people were queued up waiting for lunch by 11 am. Aitutaki MP Teina Bishop dropped by to support the cause. Drummers and singers added a lively, up-tempo soundtrack to the event, where T-shirt stalls and raffle booths drew long queues.
| Appeal base – from left, Florence Syme-Buchanan, Vaine Marsters, Caroline Poko and George George with a donated banner and cartons of gifts behind them. 10021834
Gifts of food, money and kind have flooded the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal committee, since its formation on Monday.
Yesterday, cartons of chicken, paper plates, paper cups, fresh salad vegetables, frozen mixed vegetables and jars of mayonnaise were delivered at the Aitutaki Hostel in Rarotonga, where the fundraising coordinating team has set up office.
All these donations will be sold or used today at the Atukura Ground, running parallel with the radiothon on the three radio stations: Radio Cook Islands, Matariki FM and 88FM.
Committee secretary Florence Syme-Buchanan said they have also received communication from the Cook Islands community in Melbourne of their fundraising efforts.
The Cook Islands community in the state of Victoria is led by James Henry, a Reureu villager, from Aitutaki.
Henry said their fundraiser would be in two parts: “one fundraiser will be organised solely by the people of Aitutaki, while the second part will be by the Cook Islands.” The fundraisers will include a radiothon on Sunday (February 21), followed by a concert in April. Also, Aitutakians who are employed will contribute AUS$100 per person.
Meanwhile the Manihiki Island Council has organised an island-wide fundraising tomorrow to be carried out by the henua today.
The fundraiser will start at 12pm at the Tukao CMC with all sorts of hokohoko, then continue on to the local television station at 6pm till midnight.
aAppeal Media Team
Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Update
Cook Islands delegate to the PIDC and chairman Poloma Kimiti present Aitutaki cyclone appeal committee chairman George George and secretary Florence Syme-Buchanan with a donation.
Rarotonga support for the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal is quickly building momentum with donations coming in from local businesses and inviduals.
Even the regional Pacific Immigration Director’s Conference which ends today in Rarotonga passed the hat around participants and donated $700 in cash. Chairman Auseugaefa Poloma Komiti said they hoped the cash “...contributes in a small way to your recovery efforts.” The gesture by the regional conference is much appreciated by the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Committee. The Committee says the donation is testament of the Pacific spirit – “when one of our islands is down and needs help, we are always there to lending a helping hand to help our neighbours get back on their feet.”
Equally generous of spirit was a $1,000 donation by Tuata and Tina Kauvai of Muri, Ngatangiia towards the appeal. In keeping with the Committee’s policy, all donations are being receipted. Committee George George says they have all endorsed that accounts will be audited at the end of the appeal.
“Even the assistance we are receiving like the technical help we have received from Pacific Computers to get our office up and running has been very appreciated,” says George.
House to house
Ngatangiia, Matavera and Titikaveka villages have opted to carry out a house to house collection instead of asking residents to provide and cook huge quantities of food which then have to be sold.
Ngatangiia spokesman James Mapu says, “We understand the urgency of getting assistance to our people in Aitutaki and for us, a household collection was the easiest approach to be able to quickly collect funds and get it back to our Committee.”
Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal Food Day
Meanwhile, five villages will be busy cooking for hundreds beginning Thursday evening in readiness for the Aitutaki Food Day this Friday. All food is being locally donated and people are giving freely of their time to prepare and sell it. The Prime Minister Jim Marurai has been formally requested by the Committee to give those public servants living in the villages of Avatiu, Arorangi, Nikao, Tupapa and Takuvaine the day off with full pay to allow them to help the Aitutaki Appeal.
Aitutaki relief committee to consolidate fundraising
Vice president Vaitoti Tupa and chairman George George at Tuesday’s meeting.
A Westpac representative introduces the fundraiser account number at yesterday’s meeting.
A new group has formed to promote and coordinate fundraising efforts for cyclone recovery on Aitutaki.
At Monday night’s meeting, the Aitutaki community on Rarotonga elected a committee to oversee and consolidate all cyclone fundraising efforts.
Florence Syme-Buchanan, secretary for the cyclone relief committee, said that the committee is advocating a coordinated approach to fundraising so as to properly account for all donated monies.
“The accountability issue is really important and we want to get it out to the general public that this is the committee coordinating all fundraising activities,” she said.
“We want to be sure that all funds are accounted for, everything’s done transparently and people are given receipts for the monies they donate.”
Committee chairman George George added that anyone is welcome to raise funds for the Aitutaki cause but “it must be done all above-board and individuals or organisations wanting to raise funds should liaise with the committee. This is the official body set up to oversee that all money received is accounted for and is used for what is intended – to help the people of Aitutaki.”
George, Syme-Buchanan, vice chairman Vaitoti Tupa and treasurer Nga Takaiti intend to set up a cyclone appeal office at the Aitutaki hostel in Avarua today, and will use it as a base from which to field calls and emails, handle accounts and process donations.
The committee is working closely with communities of Aitutakians overseas and is maintaining communication lines with groups in New Zealand, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Syme-Buchanan said she has made a formal request to minister of foreign affairs Robert Wigmore to use an office on Symonds Street in Auckland, the High Commissioner’s office in Wellington and the Cook Islands Centre in Mangere as fundraising centres where overseas Aitutakians can deliver gifts and goods.
The relief committee has also established a Westpac account so as to consolidate donations from local and overseas donors and to “make sure funds go to the right place,” George said. If you’d like to make a donation, the name of the account is Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal, the number is #2000256327 and the swift code is WPACCKCR.
Syme-Buchanan said that the committee will host follow-up programmes to satisfy donors. They have also pledged to work with the media to ensure that financial transactions are honest, public and transparent.
Aside from coordinating donations and managing relief organisations throughout the region, the committee is busy planning a number of fundraising events.
All Rarotonga villages will meet individually today to discuss Friday’s food stall in Avarua, and will come together on Thursday to synchronise their efforts.
All three commercial radio stations will run radiothons on Friday. Callers can contact Cook Islands Radio on 20100, Matariki FM on 25999 or 88FM on 22888.
The committee is also planning an open-air concert at Punanga Nui Marketplace this Saturday from 9 am until 12 pm, featuring Aitutakian dancers, drummers and singers. It has plans to run another church service on Sunday alongside Bishop Tutai Pere.
The committee plans to combine all the funds they raise and to use them to send “nonperishables, building materials and tradespeople” directly to Aitutaki, Syme-Buchanan said.
“We’re asking our Aitutaki community out there to help us,” George said. “Let’s work as a team. I think that’s the only way we’re going to go forward.”
To contact the cyclone relief committee, ring the Aitutaki hostel on 29910 or email email@example.com –RR
The devastation left in the wake of cyclone Pat
A young boy rummages through the remains of a home in the village of Amuri in Aitutaki.The limestone home was destroyed by cyclone Pat which hit the island on Tuesday night causing widespread devastation. 10021109
This pick-up truck was damaged after the limestone house it was parked by crumbled onto it. 10021110
The Mitchell homestead in Amuri lost its kitchen and front roof which was tossed into the backyard. 10021111
Huge trees including this old mango trees were toppled like play things. 10021113
The Vaipae hall were a number of families are now living after their homes were completely destroyed. 10021115
Red Cross officer Charlie Numanga talks with locals who lost their homes during the cyclone on Tuesday night. 10021119
Araura College – this was the only damaged classroom at the school. 10021122
Roofing iron ripped from homes litter villages across Aitutaki. 10021128
The Aitutaki harbour building is nothing but a pile of mangled roofing iron. 10021134
There’s no avoiding the extent of damage on the island of Aitutaki. 10021135
Government officials were floored at the extent of the damage on Aitutaki left by cyclone Pat. 10021141
Seven-year-old Mau Monga (left) and his nephew Ino Monga (8) in front of what use to be their home before it was destroyed by the cyclone forcing them to run along with other family members to their grandparents home nearby for shelter. 10021124
Distressed visitors anxiously wait for their flight out of Aitutaki. 10021147
A group of young men on Atitutaki take a break from their clean up on the porch of what is possibly one of the few homes still standing in Vaipae. Whistles and a request for a photo put a smile back on my face knowing that they still had a sense of humour despite the devastation. 10021117
Vaka Te Au O Tonga seemed to have weathered the cyclone with just a roofing iron wrapped around one of the ropes the only evidence of it being in a cyclone. 10021132
The Royal New Zealand Defence Force comes to the rescue
Disaster Emergency Management director Charles Carlson with Aitutaki Hospital doctor Ko Ko and Air Force Squadron Leader Kaveriri Tamariki at the Aitutaki hospital where the army will be stationed for the next 7 to 14 days. 10021606
Red Cross chairman Nga Jessie discusses offloading gear with an army personnel from the Royal New Zealand Defence Force. 10021607
Emergency equipment on the ground in Aitutaki. 10021611
More emergency equipment was shipped to Aitutaki aboard the Air Force Hercules. 10021608
Red Cross and local officials help the army load boxes of tents ready to be rigged up for people who had lost their homes completely. 10021609
The Aitutaki Resort and Spa restaurant on motu Akitua where the clean-up is progressing. 10021612
Emergency equipment being prepared for delivery to people across Aitutaki. 10021613
Soldiers head to the Air Force Hercules to offload another delivery of emergency equipment for the island of Aitutaki. 10021617
Engineering team leader Sergeant Glenn Abbot (front) is leading a team of soldiers on the island of Aitutaki. 10021622
Acting New Zealand High Commission Nicola Ngawati with Squadron Leader Kaveriri Tamariki awaiting their departure to Aitutaki. 10021629
Tarpaulins have been distributed to homes with partial roof damage as an interim measure before the rebuilding phase begins. 10021521
While much of Aitutaki is beginning to emerge from under the debris caused by cyclone Pat, some areas like on the outskirts of Reureu where this power pole was lying in the middle of the road still need a lot help with the cleanup effort. 10021522
Disaster Emergency Management director Charles Carlson at the Aitutaki Hospital which suffered structural damage during cyclone Pat. 10021524
An Aitutaki mama does her best to clear her yard of rubbish. 10021526
Aitutaki island ingenuity! A coconut tree felled by the cyclone makes for a great temporary power pole. 10021527