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Trader Jacks staff donate their tips to fire victim

Thursday 6 October 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Trader Jacks staff donate their tips to fire victim
The family whose home burnt down, Maata (left), Joseph and Ngamata Ahiao accept a check from Trader Jacks organised by day shift manager, Hinano Siulepa. 22100501

Trader Jacks is the latest business to rally around a family who lost everything in a house fire last month.

Trader Jacks’ day shift manager Hinano Siulepa organised the $1200 donation for the owners of the home that burnt down behind the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM).

“They lost their house, basically everything, and I thought we could give them a donation,” Siulepa said.

“I had a chat to the staff and instead of us keeping the tips we should donate it to the family.

“We did this in roughly nine days, it started off with day shift and then I got night shift involved, so all our customers that gave us tips went all into this envelope (for the family).”

Siulepa said customers would drop $20 and $50 bills into the bucket dedicated to helping the family.

Home owner Ngamata Ahiao said she felt blessed by the community’s response.

“It’s been so overwhelming having the love and support from the community from friends, family,” Ahiao said.

She said a temporary shelter from a shipping container had been built to house the family. 

“It’s just for us to stay temporarily and when we’re ready to start building we will be building up on our own land.”

Ahiao said the reality of the fire had now sunk in.

“For me personally it’s like, ‘shucks it happened’, everything of ours that we worked so hard for is just gone.”

Some of the other fundraisers for the family have come from the MFEM, friends and Cook Islands Party put a call out on its Facebook page asking for supplies to be donated.

The Rarotonga fire services believe the blaze was caused by overloading of electrical equipment.

Cook Islands Airport Authority fire services manager George Nicolls said it would have been caused by the fact the house didn’t have a fixed power board, while a temporary box was left outside.

The Government is now proposing regulation prohibiting the importation of substandard electrical equipment.

MFEM senior microeconomist Sally Wyatt said the proposal at this stage is that the Competition and Regulatory Authority would take over responsibility for developing (or adopting) standards for electrical equipment, and investigating compliance (or non-compliance) with equipment standards.