Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

City helps to clothe and house Fijians

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Break Free Expeditions rebuilds a rugby dorm in Fiji. Photo / Break Free Expeditions
Break Free Expeditions rebuilds a rugby dorm in Fiji. Photo / Break Free Expeditions

Tauranga residents have banded together to help the people of Fiji after the devastating cyclone Winston hit in February.

After Fiji was battered by the cyclone, the Tauranga Sports Rugby Club had people from "all over" Tauranga come to their clubrooms to donate clothes on Saturday.

Ati Aaifou-Olive, Club captain for Tauranga Sports Rugby Club, said they were amazed by the community spirit, and estimated the bags of items, which were still being collected, amounted to "two piled up van loads, and three car loads".

Tauranga Sports Rugby Club's donated haul on Saturday.
Tauranga Sports Rugby Club's donated haul on Saturday.

Mr Aaifou-Olive said they were "over the moon" with the amount of rugby strips and boots, clothes, sports shoes and household items donated going to their families and village.

Read more: Rugby club seeks donations for Fiji

The club was originally going to ship the items from Auckland, but due to the large amount collected, they were looking to see if there was someone to "jump on board" to help get the donated items to Fiji in a shipping container from Tauranga.

Meanwhile, Break Free Expeditions, based in Tauranga, completed the first phase of building a new dorm for the Yamacia Youth Development Programme, which assisted young Fijian men on and off the rugby field.

Breakfree Expeditions founder and managing director Diana Judge said the trip had been "phenomenal".

The team of 10 included Tauranga builder Peter Scott, former New Zealand rugby sevens representative Hayden Reid, as well as a plumber and electrician

They built the concrete block dormitory "with a couple of toilets, a couple of showers and a wash tub. We also hooked up running water and electricity for them," Ms Judge said.

According to Ms Judge, the boys who lived in the original dorm, which was destroyed in the cyclone, were left with only "what they were wearing as all of their clothes blew away, so we got given some money to go and buy some undies ... the boys were so excited when they were given the undies.

"They had been in borrowed accommodation, they just think it's amazing they can sleep with all the windows open and they're under their mosquito nets and they're not being eaten.

"They've got a cross breeze, running water and electricity is hooked up."

Read more: Cyclone won't stop dorm build

Break Free Expeditions was beginning the second phase of the dorm building in April when students from Tauranga Boys' College would help with the latter part of the rebuild.

Ms Judge had organised a container of wood to be shipped to the country because of the huge demand in Fiji, and Break Free Expeditions was trying to source a generator for the programme.

Can you help?

* For more information about the Tauranga Rugby Club clothes collection, go to www.facebook.com/Taurangasportsrugbyclub, and for the Break Free Expeditions go to www.facebook.com/BreakFreeExpeditions or www.breakfreeexpeditions.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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