17 Jan 2014

NZ government working closely with Tonga in cyclone recovery

5:07 pm on 17 January 2014

The New Zealand High Commission in Tonga says it is working closely with the Tongan government to provide short and long-term relief to cyclone damaged Ha'apai.

Mark Talbot says he met with Tongan officials last Saturday when the cyclone hit to discuss what needed to be done, and has provided assistance accordingly.

He says things are beginning to move along in Ha'apai, with relief such as shelter, fresh water, food and assistance with sanitation coming in.

"This week the government of Tonga has really been focussed on getting a good assessment of the damage, determining what the immediate needs are and filling those immediate needs. We're beginning to move into that phase of examining how to recover Ha'apai. It is going to take a long period of time and be reasonably costly for the government of Tonga but we really are just at the beginning of understanding what has to be done up there."

Mark Talbot says it is too early to say when the re-build will begin.

Mr Talbot says schools have been severely hit in some places and will be unsafe to return to, but the government is working to provide temporary classrooms for when children are due back to school in a couple of weeks.