Earlier this month Tropical Cyclone Harold moved across the Pacific impacting several of our closest neighbours.
The storm, which reached category five intensity over Vanuatu and Fiji, was one of the largest to hit the Pacific in recent memory and it destroyed homes and livelihoods and sadly caused loss of life and injuries.
Tropical Cyclone Harold hit as the Pacific was also working to respond to the heath and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand is always ready to support its Pacific neighbours when disaster strikes and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) response to Cyclone Harold has been focused on ensuring timely and effective humanitarian support gets to those who need it most, while also preventing the further spread of COVID-19.
Below is an outline of how and whereabouts New Zealand is currently supporting our Pacific neighbours.
In the Solomon Islands, New Zealand has worked with World Vision to deliver pre-positioned emergency relief supplies to communities affected by the cyclone.
The New Zealand response in Vanuatu has involved the New Zealand Defence Force providing aerial surveillance flights to survey damage and C-130 Hercules flights to deliver emergency relief supplies and equipment from New Zealand.
The supplies and equipment include: one privately owned helicopter to support response logistics, tarpaulins, shelter tool kits, agriculture tool kits, family hygiene kits, mother and infant kits, chainsaw kits and satellite phones.
New Zealand has also provided funding to purchase emergency relief supplies locally, charter flights for rapid assessment teams, and support the National Disaster Management Office with other urgent priorities and worked with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to deliver pre-positioned emergency relief supplies to communities affected by the cyclone.
Further funding will be provided to the Vanuatu Government to support ongoing response work and to New Zealand NGOs working with local partners to support affected communities in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu.
New Zealand’s total support to Vanuatu to date is $2.5 million.
In Fiji the New Zealand Defence Force conducted an aerial assessment of affected areas following Tropical Cyclone Harold and delivered by C-130 Hercules hygiene kits, shelter tool kits, tarpaulins, water containers, mother and infant kits, satellite phones, a drone and portable generators from New Zealand.
New Zealand has also worked with Rotary to deliver pre-positioned emergency relief supplies to communities affected by the cyclone and the New Zealand High Commission in Suva released $150,000 in emergency funding to support the response of the Government of Fiji and local NGOs.
In Tonga, the New Zealand Defence Force provided aerial surveillance support to survey the affected areas.
New Zealand also worked with Caritas to deliver pre-positioned emergency relief supplies to communities affected by the cyclone and New Zealand’s High Commission has released emergency funding to help repair damage to Vaiola Hospital.
It is clear the Pacific faces a long road to recover following Tropical Cyclone Harold and this will be made more difficult due to the impact of COVID-19.
New Zealand’s neighbours will not walk this road alone though and we will be there every step of the way.