Heavyweight boxer David Tua stands solemnly at the beach he knows well, looking defeated.

The Sinalei Resort has for many years been his choice of residence when visiting his homeland of Samoa, and he has become a well-known guest.

Now, it is in ruins.

"I don't know what to say," he says, shaking his head slowly.

Tua touched down at Faleolo Airport on Wednesday night after he and cousin Va'aiga "Inga" Tuigamala decided to come to see how they could help those affected by the tsunami.

Scanning the beach - where piles of rubble and dirt now lie - he surveys the damage and stands in front of a large post, looking out to sea and seemingly trying to come to terms with the damage caused only by water.

He approaches villagers and hotel staff, who stop doing their chores for a second to shake his hand and congratulate him on his win over Shane Cameron in Hamilton last weekend.

When he offers his condolences, the locals nod and smile softly, knowing that Tua lost an aunt in the tsunami.

"He's a good man," Margaret Schuster says, after meeting the Tuaman.

"He really feels for us and that's what he said. We are all going through the pain together - him too - because he lost his aunty. But we - the whole of Samoa - is in pain."

Fa'ailoa Savea, leaning on her broomstick, has tears in her eyes after meeting her familiar guest.

"He told us to be strong and to have faith," Mrs Savea says, wiping her eyes with her shirt.

"Seeing him here gives us strength and it gives him strength, too, to come here and see everything and meet us."

Being a regular guest, Tua had quickly befriended the owners of the popular resort, Joe Annandale and his wife Tui.

Mrs Annandale died last week, when the tsunami struck the resort, while she was trying desperately to save a number of children who were on the beach.

Tuigamala, at seeing the destruction for the first time, said the damage was a hard thing to look at.

"What are you supposed to feel?

"It's just tragedy after tragedy - there's so much damage. It's unbelievable."

The pair are also accompanying the Fa'ataua o le Ola - Lifeline Samoa - organisation, offering counselling services to villagers affected by the tsunami.