The Rotorua community can help raise funds for cyclone-hit Tonga by coming together for cultural and arts performances this week.

A Play On reading will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday at The Arts Village, following a performance at 6pm by the Rotorua Vai Ko Latai Support Youth Group to raise funds.

When Category 4 Cyclone Gita hit last week it was the fiercest storm in the Pacific Island nation's recorded history.

The eye of the storm tore through the main island, Tongatapu.


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Winds of up to 260km/h destroyed buildings, toppled trees, cut power and water connections and flooded the low-lying islands with large sea swells.

Rotorua Vai Ko Latai Support president Paea Napa'a said it was amazing to have this support from The Arts Village and Play On.

He said they had been fundraising since the cyclone hit.

"I can't explain the feeling - the way the whole community is helping, we are getting heaps of donations."

Napa'a said there were two groups within the Tongan community sending containers back to Tonga.

He said any money Rotorua Vai Ko Latai Support received which was left over, once container expenses had been paid, would go towards buying big bags of sugar, flour and rice.

He said the group would mostly perform Tongan cultural dances, but also some Samoan, Fijian and Tahitian.


Napa'a said the fundraiser was all about love - "we are humans and we love each other".

Anything people can donate, whether money or items such as food, would be a help, he said.

Play reader Simone Walker said it was a fantastic opportunity to help out our local Tongan community.

"It's going to be a great night out of entertainment for the last official day of summer."

The play a cast of six will be reading is Rubber Turkey by Eli Kent.

Walker said it was a dark comedy about four comic muses who were losing their ability to be funny.

"It's something a wee bit different but everyone loves a laugh and this play examines why we laugh and what comedy is."

She said the play reading would feature fantastic local talent, and she encouraged people to grab a blanket and their friends and go along.

"We look forward to another wonderful audience and supporting the Tongan relief effort."

The Arts Village manager Mary-Beth Acres said those at the village knew how difficult it could be to raise money for things.

"Obviously with any disaster the quicker the response the better."

She said they were thrilled with their recent Arts Night Out event and had such great feedback about the play reading, so it was a great opportunity to leverage off that and provide a fundraising event.

"We never have much to give in way of actual funds ourselves but we've definitely got time, and it's nice to have a performance before Play On, to have something we haven't had before.

"It is an opportunity for Rotorua public to come out, have a night of culture and art, and koha towards something that's going to really make a difference for this community and their village."