20 Oct 2009

NZ continues aid efforts in tsunami-hit Pacific

10:12 pm on 20 October 2009

The New Zealand Defence Force team will leave Samoa for Tonga on Wednesday as it continues to deliver aid to islands devastated by a tsunami.

An 8.0 magnitude quake triggered the devastating waves in the Pacific on 30 September, killing at least 184 people in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Wing Commander Karl Harvey says the Defence Force has worked for 20 days in a row to provide supplies to the local people, repair infrastructure, give medical help and search for bodies.

Wing Commander Harvey says New Zealand's close ties to Samoa have made the operation challenging but rewarding for personnel.

However, he believes the team is leaving the country in a good position to continue rebuilding.

New Zealand's assistance to Samoa continues with a $NZ6.1 million contribution to a trans-Tasman aid package announced by the Government last week.

It is not known how long the Defence Force will remain in northern Tonga.

Meanwhile, work to rebuild houses in Samoa that were destroyed is to begin before the end of this week.

The Samoan government is to pay for the rebuilding of about 600 houses at a cost of almost $NZ10,000 each. They will be designed like a typical fale and strong enough to withstand tsunamis and cyclones.

NZ concert raises $300,000 for victims

A benefit concert to raise money for tsunami aid for Samoa is thought to have raised almost $NZ300,000.

The concert, held at Vector Arena in Auckland on Monday night, saw New Zealand's top musicians join the cause.

The idea for the fundraiser came from hip hop stars Savage and Scribe. Along with Tim and Neil Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga and other artists, they played to an almost sold-out crowd.

Four more benefit events are scheduled for New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin over the next week.