The number of Defence Force personnel helping with the relief efforts in Fiji will triple when 300 staff tomorrow travel to the cyclone-struck country.
Tonnes of food, water and building supplies are being loaded onto the navy supply ship Canterbury, which is due to sail from Auckland.
Defence Force staff began loading pallets of food and building supplies and huge tanks of water onto the Canterbury earlier today.
Hundreds of engineers, drivers, medical and support staff are heading to the islands, which have been devastated by Cyclone Winston, as part of a joint task force.
Follow RNZI reporter Alex Perrottet in Fiji
Ship commander Simon Rooke said the Canterbury would most likely head to the northern islands where the damage was worst, and where they can offload supplies using helicopters and boats.
The crew were very keen to get to Fiji and make a difference, he said.
"It's not a joyous occasion because the reason we're going is tragic, but our neighbour friends in the Pacific need our help so everyone's really excited to get up there and contribute as part of the government's effort to help our friends in Fiji."
The crew of the Canterbury would be in a good position to assess the priorities for relief efforts.
"Primarily what I'm carrying on board is humanitarian assistance, but also the engineering capability to get in and rebuild schools and hospitals."
Nearly 60,000 people in Fiji have been forced into evacuation centres by last Saturday's category five tropical cyclone, according to official figures.
The death toll remains at 42, with two people missing.
Meanwhile, a team of 25 New Zealand engineers and members of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) are already in Driti helping clean up trees felled by the massive storm and rebuilding schools and homes.
Local Usenia Nemai said she was thankful and happy New Zealanders were helping his village.
"I can't believe it when my five-year-old daughter told me that New Zealand soldiers have come to help our village. I rushed out and true enough, the Kiwis were clearing the fallen trees and removing other debris," she said.
"Without them, it would have taken us more than a month to clean up."
Driti was one of many villages directly in Cyclone Winston's path and bore the brunt of its destructive power.
Up to 90 per cent of homes, schools and other buildings in the village were destroyed, according to the RFMF.
By the time the cyclone moved on, Mrs Nemai's two-bedroom home had been reduced to a heap of firewood.
"My husband and I huddled with our five kids in one bedroom. We braced for the worst but until the storm ripped the roof over our heads and knocked over the entire house, we had no idea how horrifying it could be.
"We were scared and we ran as fast as we could to my parents' house nearby."
Corporal Glenn Hayes, an engineer from the New Zealand Army, said the Fijian soldiers were "well-motivated hard workers".
"This is the first overseas deployment for some of our engineers and sappers so it has been a great learning experience for them. Partnering with other militaries is an opportunity to learn about other cultures and adapt to new ways of working," he said.
Community leader challenges aid approach
Back in New Zealand, Auckland Pacific community leader Melino Maka said the city's large Pacific community wanted to send private contributions of aid on the two naval vessels being sent to Fiji.
Mr Maka, who is the chair of the Tongan Advisory Council and part of the Red Cross' Pacific team, said he couldn't understand why this wasn't allowed.
"Given that there is a huge number of Pacific people here in Aotearoa ... It is an appropriate way to engage our Pacific community here because even though those people in Fiji have lost their lives, we also feel it here. That's the Pacific approach to this."
The community could not organise private transport because many companies were not yet shipping to Fiji, he said.
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they appreciated communities in New Zealand wanted to support family and friends who had been affected.
However, it said the priority was to supply aid requirements specifically sought by Fiji's government - and relief flights had so far all been full.
Money was the best thing to donate to an emergency appeal, not clothing, food or other goods, the ministry said.