Monday 1 March 2010 | Published in Regional
Pacific Islanders living in Wairarapa have thrown their weight behind a regional appeal to help cyclone victims in Aitutaki.
Riversdale woman Sylvia Scott last week launched the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal after Cyclone Pat devastated the island on February 11.
Scott said the Salvation Army in Masterton had donated essentials to the appeal that are to be sent to Aitutaki and Masterton firm Printcraft had donated a run of 250 posters highlighting the campaign.
Masterton community worker Tere Torea, who was born on the island, said the Wairarapa Pasifika Association is supporting the appeal, which now has a focus on raising funds to help cyclone victims recover.
He told the Wairarapa Times-Age newspaper that members of his family who lived in Aitutaki were not injured in the cyclone but were, like their neighbours, now struggling to rebuild their lives and homes.
“Islands like Aitutaki and Rarotonga are a place of relaxation for a lot of us and I agree with Sylvia when she says that we need to help,” he said.
“Some of the people who lost their homes are older people on a pension.
“They can’t afford to rebuild just like that and they really do need our help.”
Torea said he realised the Aitutaki appeal came on the heels of similar calls for generosity in past months to help earthquake survivors in Haiti and tsunami victims in Samoa and that people in Wairarapa may be “tapped out”.
“But it would be great to see our community dig a little deeper and show their generosity at least one more time.”
Scott said she posted a 20kg consignment of requested sheets and towels to a friend in Aitutaki, who will distribute the goods to those in greatest need.
She said tarpaulins were now the islanders’ main form of protection from the elements and the island was now facing serious threats from dengue fever and fire hazards made worse after wide swathes of trees and vegetation were flattened.
Donations to the Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal can be made at the National Bank branch in Masterton.