Cyclone hits as workers arrive

By Jonathan Dine

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SHOW OF SUPPORT: Aporosa Tui from Fiji is drawing on the support of friends while his family are coping with the effects of Cyclone Winston. PHOTO/Paul Taylor
SHOW OF SUPPORT: Aporosa Tui from Fiji is drawing on the support of friends while his family are coping with the effects of Cyclone Winston. PHOTO/Paul Taylor

When Aporosa Tui left Fiji on Saturday the weather forecast didn't look too bad.

But when he arrived in New Zealand he learnt his family home had been destroyed.

Mr Tui is one of 12 RSE workers who arrived in Hawke's Bay on Saturday.

The men's families are still dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

The category five storm claimed 20 lives with more feared dead, and prompted Fiji's government to declare a 30 day state of emergency.

Mr Tui recalls the weatherman saying it "wouldn't be too bad".

"When we got to New Zealand we heard it was a category 5 and knew what that meant."

Mr Tui's house, which was home to his elderly mother, brother, wife and young daughter, was destroyed.

"It's the biggest one (cyclone) we have ever seen. My heart just wanted to be back home."

He said the support from Hastings Intermediate and his brothers keep him going forward.

"Like earthquakes are part of life for you here, it's the same for us and cyclones back home."

He said he and his fellow Fijian friends had accepted what had happened and will now move forward.

Mr Tui will stay in the Bay for seven months working on a Twyford orchard sending money home to his family for the rebuild.

"We will fight on," Mr Tui said.

Hastings Intermediate has sprung into action following the cyclone.

Principal Andrew Shortcliffe yesterday met with the seasonal workers, the majority whom hail from Wayalailai, Fiji.

The Hastings school has a very close connection with the island. The leadership academy visit their sister school on Wayalailai each year to help improve life on the island.

Joining Mr Shortcliffe yesterday were eight of the prefects who visited the small island of Wayalailai back in 2011 as part of the school's leadership academy.

The group wanted to show their support for the men, their families and the Wayalailai community.

The small island was badly affected by the cyclone, which had made a "challenging life even harder" for its people.

Wayalailai has a population of just 250 and a small school with just 50 students.

Mr Shortcliffe said there hadn't been any casualties, but there had been plenty of damage done.

The school is launching a cyclone appeal to raise money for food, clothing, and medical supplies for the island's 80 families who have lost everything.

"At the end of the term a team will be sent to Wayalailai island with the fundraised money and supplies to give to the island's families," Mr Shortcliffe said.

Former Hastings Intermediate prefect Yvaan Hapuku-Lambert, now at Karamu High, said while the situation was terrible and he was glad he could extend his support to the men who were so hospitable to him back in 2011.

"They are such amazing people, they don't have much but whatever they do have they offered to us.

"I'm happy to return that favour now."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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