Vanuatuans living in the Bay have been desperately trying to contact family after tropical Cyclone Pam ravaged the island nation.

Packing winds of 320km/h, Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu, leaving a trail of destruction and unconfirmed reports of dozens of deaths.

Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer in Port Vila, said officials from Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office confirmed to her agency that at least eight people in and around the capital, Port Vila, had died during the cyclone.

Bay of Plenty Vanuatu Association interim president Joseph Toara.
Bay of Plenty Vanuatu Association interim president Joseph Toara.

Bay of Plenty Vanuatu Association interim president Joseph Toara said he had still not been able to contact his family in Vanuatu.


"I am a bit nervous. I haven't heard from anyone. Having grown up in the islands, I know what the cyclones are like."

Mr Toara said he had never witnessed a category-five cyclone but knew too well the damage a category-two or three cyclone could unleash.

"Port Vila is a bigger island but on the smaller islands they will be getting hit by wind from every direction no matter what. If it's northerly, southerly, they will get the wind."

Mr Toara said communication had become difficult with cellphone towers and internet connections damaged in the cyclone. There would be about 20 migrants from Vanuatu living in the Bay.

However, each year would bring in about 500 seasonal workers to the kiwifruit industry, he said.

Vanuatu native Rex Maranda said Cyclone Pam would have been the biggest cyclone to have hit his home in his lifetime.

"We get cyclones every year but not like this. The damage will be very bad."

Mr Maranda had been unable to get hold of his mother during the weekend.

"I got a hold of my sister in Vila at 11pm last night. I got through but then I got cut off again. The phone lines are very patchy."

Mr Maranda said he was worried about friends and family back home.

"The only way we know how to communicate with them is to phone them but all the phone lines are down. No airports are open to fly there. There is not much you can do."

Both Mr Toara and Mr Maranda were raising money through a sausage sizzle at Bunnings Warehouse at the Mount yesterday. Funds will be sent home to the devastated nation and help fund Vanuatu Independence celebrations in July.