Lei’ataua Tahaafe is determined to make a difference for those still trying to recover from Cyclone Gita, which struck Tonga earlier this year.
Originally from Tonga, the Oamaru resident has spent the last several months filling two shipping containers with supplies to help with the relief effort – food, clothes and building materials to rebuild homes damaged by the cyclone.
The containers were expected to be in Tonga next month. Once they had arrived, Mr Tahaafe would fly to Tonga to build at least two houses for families.
He had funded most of the project himself and it had not been cheap, he said.
Buying and selling cars helped pay for the containers and shipping costs.
Mr Tahaafe is no stranger to helping those less fortunate than himself. Over the years, he has sent many supplies to his family in Tonga.
Once Cyclone Gita struck his homeland, it inspired him to help not only his own family, but also others in need.
“When you help people, God will provide.”
It felt rewarding to know you were helping families, he said.
It wasn’t just friends and family who supported Mr Tahaafe’s efforts – the Awamoa Football Club had donated old football uniforms, and Fenwick, Waitaki Boys’ High and St Joseph’s schools contributed goods.
Mr Tahaafe was thankful to the groups and organisations that supported the cause.
“I know that the generosity and kindness of the people in Oamaru will impact and help a lot towards the people in need.
“My family and I are forever grateful and humbled by those who came to our house and donated goods as well.”
Once his work in Tonga was done, he planned to fill another container to be sent there.
Mr Tahaafe said he wanted to continue helping the people of Tonga until the day he dies.