3 Nov 2009

New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga says tsunami destruction on Niuatoputapu heartbreaking

4:16 pm on 3 November 2009

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, Christine Bogle, visited the tsunami devastated island of Niuatoputapu at the weekend and says it was heartbreaking to see the level of destruction that occurred, but she says the islanders are beginning to get on with their lives.

Ms Bogle accompanied the Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele, several Cabinet Ministers and the Australian High Commissioner to the remote northern island.

Nine islanders were killed, and much of the three villages, Hihifo, Vaipoa and Falehau were wrecked by the waves when the tsunami struck on September 30th.

Ms Bogle says the islanders are resilient, but recovering from the disaster will take a while.

"They don't get many visits by boats anyway, so they know to a certain extent, they are are used to living a semi subsistent life, but obviously they are shocked by this terrible experience that they have had, and they are now starting to get back to lead their lives but it is going to take a while."

The delegation was on Niuatoputapu to assess the destruction and talk to the residents about moving to higher ground.