SHARE
Ready for work . . . Taua Tahaafe stands beside the two tractors he has been given to send to the Tongan village of Kolonga. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Taua Tahaafe moved to New Zealand in 1969, but his home village of Kolonga, in Tonga, has never been far from his mind.

Mr Tahaafe has regularly sent shipping containers full of supplies – from building materials to books – but his next shipment is significantly larger.

Two Waitaki families, who do not want to be named, have given him two restored Massey Ferguson tractors to send to Kolonga.

“When [the farmer] told me he would give me the tractor, I was quite emotional,” Mr Tahaafe said.

“Then he called back two weeks later to say he had [found] another one.

“They gave it to me to help the people and that’s what it is going to do.”

Mr Tahaafe is now seeking donations of other farm equipment to be sent to Tonga with the tractors. In particular, he is looking for a heavy-duty mower, a plough, a post borer and a subsoiler ripper with one or two tines.

The tractors and farm equipment would be placed in a trust in Kolonga and used to work on local plantations that produce taro, cassava, kumara, yams and kape.

Kolonga, which is located on the northeastern coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, was hit hard by Cyclone Sita two years ago, and Mr Tahaafe is also sending supplies to help with the rebuild.

Even factoring in the costs of shipping, it was cheaper to send materials from New Zealand than buy them in Tonga sheet of tin would cost about $100 there, he said.

Supplies from previous containers had gone towards the construction of kindergartens and homes, and books had been used to start a library at the local college.

Mr Tahaafe, a regular visitor to Tonga, said he was looking forward to returning once the borders were open again.

His dream was to one day take people from Oamaru over to see how their donations had helped the people of Kolonga.

“I enjoy helping people, that’s the main thing,” he said.

“Tumu aki he ofa, which is Tongan for love, is the reason why we do it.”

After retiring from his job at the Alliance Group Pukeuri meat works this year, Mr Tahaafe was focusing his efforts on the ongoing needs of Kolonga and Tonga.

“It’s always been on my mind, what can I do to help my village.

“You can help other villages, but you have to start with your own.”

Mr Tahaafe is also looking for a place to store the donations before they get shipped to Tonga.

Anyone who can help Mr Tahaafe with donations or a place to store them should call 21 087-69885 or (03) 976-2104.