Fam­ily re­pair crew to help Tonga

Taranaki Daily News - - News - JANE MATTHEWS

As cy­clone Gita de­stroyed his home in Tonga, all Veni Uhila could do was watch it on tele­vi­sion.

The New Ply­mouth based builder had a sleep­less night on Mon­day but it was only when he got hold of his po­lice­man cousin at mid­day on Tues­day that he re­alised how bad it re­ally was in Tonga.

So now Uhila and his sons Taani, 22, and Siaosi, 10, are put­ting their New Zealand lives on hold to head to Tonga and help their fam­ily re­build.

‘‘My plan is to go and just make sure it’s safe,’’ Uhila said. ‘‘We’re just do­ing this from the good of our heart.’’

Uhila grew up in the Ton­gan vil­lage of La­paha, just one of many largely de­stroyed by Gita.

He said as soon as he re­alised how wide­spread the de­struc­tion was he wanted to ‘‘give back’’ to his home and or­gan­ised the trip with his sons.

That has meant pack­ing nine bags full of tools, which is cost­ing them $800 to take over.

They plan to buy the ma­te­ri­als they need to fix the homes when they get there. Uhila is un­der no il­lu­sions build­ing ma­te­ri­als will be short sup­ply.

Since let­ting peo­ple know he was head­ing over to Tonga to help, he had been in­un­dated with mes­sages from fam­ily and friends ask­ing for help.

‘‘I said ‘look, you can only do so much’,’’ Uhila said. ‘‘It’s only me and my boys.’’

New Ply­mouth’s St Pius X School com­mu­nity, where Siaosi is a stu­dent and Taani a grad­u­ate, had given the fam­ily $1000 to help with their ex­penses over­seas.

De­spite the fact Siaosi, 10, has min­i­mal build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence he was look­ing for­ward to help­ing in Tonga.

‘‘We’re go­ing to be trav­el­ling around the whole vil­lage and go­ing to the most dam­aged houses,’’ he said.


Taani, 22, Siaosi, 10, dad Veni Uhila are go­ing back to Tonga to help re­build af­ter cy­clone Gita.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.