Tongans living in Northland are pleading for public help to assist loved ones back home impacted by the giant volcano eruption and accompanying tsunami that wiped out homes along the coast.
With power outages and communications down due to the disabling of the Southern Cross cable, Northland Tongans are being forced to rely on updates from the New Zealand Government about the plight of family and friends.
An underground volcano erupted 65km north of the capital Nuku'alofa on Saturday night, sending ash and steam spewing into the sky while sonic booms have been reportedly heard as far away as Alaska.
It also sparked tidal waves and tsunami warnings around the Pacific, including the tsunami surge at Tutukaka, with evacuations in Japan, Chile and Australia in low-lying coastal areas.
The United Nations co-ordinator in the Pacific Jonathan Veitch today confirmed three people have died, including British woman Angela Glover.
The natural disasters came shortly after the appointment of Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni as prime minister of Tonga.
Wesley Methodist Church minister Reverend Kuli Fisi'iahi of Dargaville said at this stage, local Tongans were pleading for cash donations and a meeting was to have been held yesterday to decide other forms of help Northlanders could render.
He hails from Niutoua, 20 miles east of Nuku'alofa and has two brothers and two sisters living in different areas of the main island, Tongatapu.
"There have been no injuries or deaths reported so far and that's a huge relief for us. I was speaking to my sister who's a nurse and the internet connection died. Since then, I haven't been able to connect with anyone on the island," he said on Monday.
Fisi'iahi organised a Zoom meeting with Tongans in New Zealand and abroad on Saturday evening and a prayer service on Sunday morning with Methodist ministers from across Aotearoa.
"We encouraged people worried about their families back home to pray for them. At the moment, people are most in need of water but we'll see how else we can help.
"We watched videos of the eruption of black ash and stones blowing inland and images of the Asian tsunami came to mind," he said.
Those wishing to donate cash can do so at www.donateresponsibly.org.
The Council for International Development (CID), the umbrella organisation for New Zealand's aid charities, is running the fundraiser which is being co-ordinated with the New Zealand Government's response.
CID said the most effective response was to donate money rather than send goods that may not be needed.