11 Feb 2015

Tonga Red Cross wants urgency on Ha'apai rebuild

5:22 pm on 11 February 2015

The delays in rebuilding homes in Tonga's Ha'apai island group have been put down to legal issues and "finger-pointing".

Cyclone Ian devastated the group in January 2014, and there are still 80 percent of people affected living in tents.

The newly-appointed governor of Ha'apai, Mo'ale Finau, says there are complex legal issues regarding ownership of land, but the new Government's policy is to get on with the job of building.

Massive damage remains after Cyclone Ian.

Massive damage remains after Cyclone Ian. Photo: Richard Small

The secretary general of the Tonga Red Cross, Sione Taumoefolau, says he is concerned about side-effects such as sanitation and disease.

"I think there's a lot of finger-pointing at each other now. So I believe they shouldn't blame each other, they should sit down and see how they can go, but the new government is dealing with it now, hopefully by the end of next month, to commit to those 400 houses they are looking for."

Sione Taumoefolau says the Red Cross had started to build temporary houses last year but the Government told them to stop, in light of its World Bank-sponsored project.

He says the donor funds were then used in the Solomon Islands.