Nine months after cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu the community continues to rebuild.

To help the efforts, a group of men have left their families for another season of orchard work in Hawke's Bay.

Graham Nawia had returned for the sixth consecutive year to work as a Recognised Seasonal Employee (RSE). This year, Mr Nawia's earnings would go towards finishing his family's home that was destroyed by the cyclone.

The 24-year-old was working in Hawke's Bay last season when the cyclone upturned his family's lives March 5.


"My wife called me, said it was coming," he said as he recalled the anxiety he felt.

The category five cyclone forced evacuations and caused huge destruction. A number of people died, many were displaced, and crops, animals and livelihoods were destroyed.

Mr Nawia's wife, one-year-old daughter and five-month-old son survived. He returned home to Tanna in April to help rebuild his home. It took him one month to rebuild the roof and the front of the house.

The men supported each other while away from home and they sat in the shade, talking, laughing, and enjoying their morning break.

When the group was asked how their morning's work had been ,replies came in Bislama, the common language in Vanuatu, and was littered only with few English words. The language barrier did not affect their work, however.

The Bostock Orchard foreman said the men from Vanuatu were the hardest workers they had.

"We have to make them have a break," he said. "We wouldn't be in business without them."

It was Wilson Loyalty's first year working in Hawke's Bay and he was planning to return again next season. He had chosen to come because he needed money, like Mr Nawia, to rebuild his family's home.

The 41-year-old's wife and young son had crowded into his brother's house, which was concrete, in the meantime.

Mr Loyalty had lived through other cyclones but said this one was the most destructive.

"There were leaves blowing everywhere, branches, everything was just gone.

"One of our main root fruits, cassava, was ruined."

The Port Villa resident said one good thing that had come from the cyclone was the growth of crops afterwards.

Prior to the storm, crops would only grow in some places, but after it they were appearing everywhere.

The men said they contact their loved ones daily but enjoyed working hard to earn money to take home.