News, Events and Culture

Relief fund set up for victims of Cyclone Winston

Friday February 26 2016

A Charitable Trust Account is now available to receive donations towards helping those affected by Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

Photo shows the mayor donating cash to two members of the local Fijian community who are raising money for the cyclone relief effort.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith has made the first deposit of $100 and added a $100 donation from the Mayoral Relief Fund. He challenges all other Mayors and Councillors from across the region to make donations.
Deposits can be made at any KiwiBank. Account number: 38-9012-0501671-00
Locals Mike Sahayam and Koli Sewabu, both, who have family in Fiji, are behind the community fundraising scheme.

"I have family living on Batiki Island," Mr Sewabu said. "The island took a direct hit from the cyclone and 10 foot tidal waves surged across the island and took everything with them except the church and concrete water tanks. Thankfully there was no loss of life on Batiki."

Mr Sahayam said the neighbouring island of Koro was not so lucky and as well as losing everything they owned, several lives were lost as well.  

"There is a large Fijian community in Palmerston North and several members have family living in devastated areas such as west and on Koro Island. It has been a very stressful time," Mr Sahayam said.

"With previous cyclones, parts of Fiji were affected, but with Cyclone Winston so much damage has been done in many parts of the country that many families have absolutely nothing. As of yesterday more than 40 people had died as a result of the cyclone. They have to start building their lives again."

The men are hoping that monetary donations as well as goods will be donated and were thankful for Mayor Smith's donation.

"I am happy to contribute in any way I can," Mayor Smith said. "Fiji is one of our closest neighbours and many extended families live in our community. If I can help, I will."

Mr Sewabu said that if anyone has camping gear they no longer need, including tents, camp stretchers, cookers, villagers would be extremely grateful for them. "They have absolutely nothing, not even clothes."

However, they are not collecting food items as so many of them spoil before they reach those who need them.

A Fijian evening is planned and the men are looking for businesses that would be able to donate items as prizes for an auction.

If members of the public would like to drop off goods (not food), they can contact: Brian on 027 612 0787 or Luisa on 358 6388 or 021 201 5878