Four generators donated following an appeal by a Northlander to help families affected by Cyclone Winston in Fiji are on their way to the island nation for distribution next week.

Whangarei pensioner Roy Alder made the plea in early June after his return from Fiji where he saw, first hand, people in rural areas without power. They were unable to preserve food and children were having difficulty studying at night. Worst affected are the western cane belt areas of Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki.

Since the Northern Advocate ran a story about the appeal on June 16, three generators were donated by families in Whangarei and one from Auckland. Mr Alder described that as a "good response" in a short time.

He tested all the generators, including the largest of the lot - a 1200 watt machine - and replaced its fuel tap before they were transported to Auckland by a freight company. Mr Alder paid about $250 for the transportation.


His next challenge was to negotiate discounted shipping rates.

"I looked up in the Yellow Pages and rang a shipping agent in Whangarei who suggested I ring someone in Auckland. I rang and the man who answered sounded like someone from Fiji," he said.

Mr Alder paid $245 for shipping and paperwork and the generators left Auckland on Monday and should have arrived in Lautoka yesterday.

His next challenge is to get them cleared at Customs at a discounted rate on Tuesday next week.

Mr Alder is flying to Nadi on Monday and has come up with about $1200, including airfares and transportation, during the whole fundraising campaign.

He will take with him articles the Northern Advocate ran on his appeal, which he intends to show to Customs while clearing the generators.

He plans to drop one generator in Ba and three in Rakiraki during his three-week stay.

"I am happy with the response. These generators are as good as new. One had done only two hours and another, four hours, before they were donated and I sincerely hope they are of good use to needy families," he said.

Cyclone Winston ravaged the island nation in February, causing widespread devastation.