Fans, supporters and Wellingtonians at this year’s magnificent Sevens Wellington tournament are being urged to help out their Pacific neighbours Tonga to assist with relief efforts for Cyclone Ian.
The charity Oxfam, which is heavily involved in relief efforts for the devastated communities of Ha’apai in Tonga, will be the charity partner for this year’s Sevens.
There will be a significant presence of Oxfam collectors at the Sevens Wellington street parade held Wednesday 5 February, and along the concourse leading to Westpac Stadium on the days of the event. Oxfam’s Txt2Donate campaign will also be promoted, with fans asked to text HELP to 4847 to make an automatic $3 donation to Oxfam's Tongan Cyclone Appeal.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who approached Sevens Wellington Chief Executive Marty Donahue with the initiative, says she is delighted Wellington fans will have the chance to dig deep for the Tongan community.
"The communities in Ha’apai need our help and the Sevens Wellington tournament will be a great occasion for us all to dig deep and offer our support," says Mayor Wade-Brown.
"While rich in tradition and community strength, they have very limited resources to rebuild so the efforts of Oxfam and other relief agencies are essential. Transport and logistics in the area aren’t robust so cash donations are an effective way we can show our love and support for our Pacific neighbours."
Porirua's Deputy Mayor, Ana Coffey, who is of Tongan descent, has been active in coordinating relief support in her communities. She says Porirua City Council is offering to pay the shipping cost of a container of relief goods for Tonga.
"I'm pleased that Porirua City Council is supporting the effort to help out Ha'apai. The Tongan community in Porirua is relatively small, but that doesn't mean we are any less affected by Cyclone Ian. My great-grandfather's house has been destroyed and our relatives are dealing with repercussions. It's great to be part of a co-ordinated effort to support the Tongan community here in our part of New Zealand and over in Ha'apai."
Sevens Wellington tournament CEO Marty Donahue says: "Tonga is a magnificent competitor at Sevens Wellington and is always hugely popular with the crowd. The fundraising gesture will help alleviate some of the destruction of Cyclone Ian and we hope Wellington will get behind this fundraising initiative and assist where they can."
Secretary of the Wellington Tonga Leaders Council Senorita Laukau says her organisation is very happy that Cyclone Ian relief efforts will be the major charity focus at this year’s Sevens.
"The Tongan community of Wellington is humbled to think that WCC has organised this valuable response for the victims of Cyclone Ian at this internationally known event," says Senorita.
"We support the fundraising as we know all communities have been very generous in sharing our grief and misfortune."
Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, Barry Coates, says that Oxfam is on the ground in Tonga helping communities with vital aid, but more support is urgently needed.
"Every dollar given by generous kiwis counts, and helps bring life-saving aid to the thousands of people affected by Cyclone Ian," says Barry.
"Oxfam is helping families with clean water and sanitation, and will provide farming tools, seeds and fishing gear so that people can support themselves, recover markets and rebuild their lives. Please give generously and together we can help those thousands of people who have lost everything."
All money raised from the collections and the Txt2Donate scheme will be dedicated to the relief efforts and assist in Oxfam’s activities in the area.