Frocks and fun to help Tongan re-build

Waimate people have the chance to support the their neighbours in Tonga and Samoa at a ‘drinks and dresses’ fundraising event later this month.

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Organised by local physiotherapist Bridget Harrison, the fundraiser is to support the Pacifica Safe Shelter Trust in rebuilding homes destroyed by Cyclone Gita in February this year.

‘The idea is to have a fun night out with fashion and friends, and to help our Pacific neighbours. Our community has strong ties with Tonga and Samoa through sport, church, and farming.’

Supporters should wear a dress, and bring along a dress or other item of clothing in good condition to exchange or sell. 

All items will cost $10 to buy, and this money will go into the rebuild, along with the ticket sales.

Entertainment on the night will include an auction of donated items, including cakes, holiday accommodation, and art. Funds raised in the auction will also be donated to the rebuild.

Pacifica Safe Shelter Trust spokesperson Dr Peter Rodwell, of Oamaru, is heading to Tonga this month to scope the project.

‘Our main building projects will hopefully start in April next year. In the short-term we will do some building but first need to raise significant sums of money.  We then plan to send a series of building teams over commencing next April having plans, processes, approvals and materials all in place.’

Dr Rodwell said the cyclone destroyed 170 homes, and damaged 1100 homes on the island of Tongatapu alone.

‘Many people are still under canvas. A large number of families don’t have the resources of money, materials, or access to a skilled workforce to recover.’

There was concern that people would be without safe protection for months or years.

The Drinks and Dresses event is BYO food to share and BYO drinks and glasses. It will be held at the Arno Hall on October 26, from 6pm. Tickets will be at the door, or contact Bridget Harrison 027 482 7994.

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eventKate O'Connell