Call for Capital to dig deep for Fiji

10 March 2016

Wellingtonians are being asked to give generously in cash toward relief efforts in Fiji, as it recovers from the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Wellington City Council is firmly supportive of the charities and relief agencies, which are working to restore communities, neighbourhoods and services with the Fijian government.

Mayor Wade-Brown says Wellingtonians have given generously with goods, enough to fill four containers, however: “What is needed now is cash to support the experienced agencies working on the ground in Fiji.

“The advice from agencies working to restore Fiji’s communities is to donate cash rather than food, clothing or other goods,” says the Mayor.

“Relief agencies are telling us that cash is more easily collected, transferred, distributed and can be accounted for, whereas the management of donated goods can provide unnecessary distractions for humanitarian workers.”

The local response being led by the Fijian government, with whom both the New Zealand Red Cross and Oxfam are working with. These agencies are requesting cash donations to help their efforts in Fiji.

Chair of Wellington’s Pacific Advisory Group Sai Lealea says the support from the Capital’s residents has been positive so far, however there’s a real need for cash donations to support the ongoing relief efforts.

“The restoration of homes, buildings and community services will be a huge project for the people of Fiji. While we can’t be on the ground with hammers and nails, we can dig deep and donate cash to buy the hammers, nails and even clean drinking water for those working directly with the Fijian people,” says Sai.

Councillor Sarah Free, who sits on Wellington’s Pacific Advisory Group, says Wellingtonians gave generously to relief efforts for previous disasters in the Pacific. “We are all Pacific people and need to stand together in times like this,” she says.

The New Zealand Red Cross have already sent tarpaulins, water containers and shelter kits to Fiji and are working across Fiji including in some of the hardest to reach areas. Kiwis who want to help can donate to Red Cross’ Pacific Disaster Fund, where 100 per cent of every donation will go to efforts on the ground in Fiji. 

Oxfam has a team on the ground with expertise in clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Their humanitarian staff on the ground are working with the Fijian government and local organisations to deliver emergency drinking water and hygiene kits, repair water supplies and toilets, clean wells and set up emergency water filtration units. You can donate to the Oxfam Cyclone Winston Appeal.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is also working to help people re-establish contact with family members after the cyclone. People who have been unable to contact family members in Fiji since Cyclone Winston should visit the Restoring Family Links website or email familylinks@redcross.org.nz for help.

Wellington’s Fijian community is organising at fundraising event with top chef and Oxfam Ambassador Robert Oliver who will be talking about his Pacific Food Adventures and the inspirational work he is doing to promote Pacific Island cuisine.  The event is on 15 March at the Boatshed.  

The event features a charity auction featuring many great offerings, including return flights to Fiji for two people, a night of luxury at the Museum Hotel, breakfast with the Mayor at Nikau Café and a seven-course degustation dinner for four at Le Cordon Bleu.

Council's Pacific Advisory Group has met with the Mayor and Council officials to discuss fundraising opportunities, with chair Sai Lealea saying that a number of positive ideas for Wellingtonians to show their support are being considered.