Whanganui's Fijian people were waiting in fear through Saturday night and Sunday to hear how relatives had fared in Cyclone Winston.

The category 5 cyclone hit the island group on Saturday night, with winds gusting up to 325km/h, flooding and landslides.

Vijeshwar Prasad was born in Nadi, on the badly hit western side of the main island, Viti Levu. He and his wife, Pushpa, were up all Saturday night at their Whanganui home.

"We didn't sleep this night, just praying and going through the night on radio stations."


He's been able to find out more since, mainly from friends, Facebook and cellphone calls.

He said the cyclone was frightening, sad and disturbing. He knows what it's like from experiencing Cyclone Oscar in 1983.

"There are so many cyclones in Fiji ... the fear is there."

He's heard Nadi is flooded, and cordoned off, and even in the biggest city, Suva, which was less affected, houses have lost roofs. He said people were warned, but because of poverty and the way houses were built they were not very strong.

He called a meeting of the Multicultural Council Rangitikei/Whanganui last night to decide how to help. One of his thoughts is to get ships and aeroplanes to transport aid for free.

"If you can get freight free, then you can do something."

He's also urging people to keep in touch with families there as best they can.

Damage was worse on some outlying islands, where many of Whanganui's 200 Indo-Fijian and Fijian people come from. Mr Prasad has been told one of the islands is completely wiped out, with nothing left.

"I don't think there's anyone over there who's safe. Everyone has suffered and where the cyclone hasn't hit the flood waters have done the damage."

Fijian pastor Iliesa Tamaniyaga and his wife Diana-Dee Tuibua come from outer islands in the Lomaiviti Group, where communication is sparse. She's seen a Google Earth picture of her grandmother's village Nacamaki on Koro Island. It's covered in sand, which means waves must have rushed in.

"My first reaction was, my family have just one tent. How I wish I could just give shelter to someone out there," she said.

In Nasau Village, on the same island, only four houses out of 54 were still standing on Sunday.

"They have just finished burying four people and people are returning to damaged homes. The clinic is totally packed. We were able to get contact for just a few minutes, due to restrictions."

They haven't heard anything from the Lau Province, which is even further out.

Mr Tamaniyaga said tents, clothing and water were top needs. Water could be bought from the mainland, but money was needed to buy it. He's offering to collect goods for Fiji at his house, 124 Harrison St, and also to talk to people.

Mr Prasad is hoping for a united front with aid.

"We should act as a team, not only Indians or Fijians. We all should be united to help Fijian people."