7 May 2015

Vanuatu's Mataso gets shelter two months after Cyclone Pam

8:26 am on 7 May 2015

A New Zealand company has provided a semi-permanent meeting house, church and some housing for the 120 people living on the Vanuatu island of Mataso, which was badly hit by cyclone Pam.

Mataso people had no water, shelter or medicine for six days.

Mataso was devastated by Cyclone Pam in March Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

The managing director of Shelter Stations, Daniel Thompson, says the structures are steel-framed with heavy PVC coverings, and will be able to be used for a number of years.

He says all women were evacuated from Mataso after the cyclone, but will go back there this weekend now that they have shelter.

Mr Thompson says he offered the shelters to aid agencies to distribute, but they did not want them, so he went to Vanuatu himself.

"I scratched around and found out Mataso had a need, loaded up what I thought was correct shelters and in hindsight turned out to be the correct ones, had them shipped over there then my son and I jumped on a plane and went over there. It was a complex logistical exercise to get them out to the island, we had to load them onto long boats and off we went into the deep blue ocean and later that day we turned up at Mataso."

Mr Thompson says a conversation on how aid is distributed following disasters is needed.

"In the past, New Zealand aid and Aus Aid had been very good in using our shelters, but this time around it was a little bit different and we were pushed off to the NGOs like UNICEF and Red Cross and so on. UNICEF said that they didn't buy Australian made products, Red Cross said yeah, they'd take them, but once I gave them to them I had no more control over them and they would do with them what they chose."

Mr says all women were evacuated from Mataso after the cyclone, but will go back there this weekend now that they have shelter.

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