Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni has brought back a Cyclone Gabrielle relief gift from Fiji - 34 defence and emergency staff to help with our clean-up.
Sepuloni, who was in Fiji for a Special Leaders’ Meeting of the Pacific Island Forum on Thursday, arrived back in New Zealand yesterday with extra luggage.
“I arrived back from the Pacific Leaders meeting in Fiji this evening. It was so difficult scrolling through the stories and messages of the rain hitting New Zealand before I left Nadi and on arrival back in New Zealand. I’m feeling for all the families that may be impacted and also all the families feeling anxious about what the weather might mean for them and/ or their loved ones,” Sepuloni said.
“I was moved by the response from the Pacific Leaders Forum for New Zealand. The sentiment expressed by our partners/ family across the Pacific was that, over the course of many years New Zealand has been there to help them during cyclones and other natural disasters and that they want to reciprocate that alofa and support by assisting us.
“It is truly humbling to be on the receiving end of this level of love from all our Pasifika aiga.”
Sepuloni said the first part of the assist came with 34 Fijian defence and emergency staff joining her flight back to Wellington.
“The first offer has been taken up. I returned tonight with 34 defence force, emergency services and disaster relief personnel from Fiji. When we arrived back in Wellington, they sang hymns and said a prayer on arrival.
“On behalf of New Zealand, I expressed again our sincere gratitude for coming here to assist us, during our time of need.
“Vinaka vaka levu VIti and all of our Pasifika family.”
Many workers from Fiji and across the Pacific in the RSE scheme were displaced during the cyclone, now helping with the community rebuild.