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Tonga's community in NZ pitches in to help raise funds for cyclone-ravaged homeland

The Tongan community in New Zealand is already pitching in to raise funds for those hit by Cyclone Gita back home.

Many homes and businesses in the capital, Nuku'alofa have been damaged or destroyed, communication is down in many areas and more than 75,000 residents are without power after the cyclone hit the kingdom overnight.

The New Zealand Warriors today attended a fundraising event as local efforts to help out kicked in. 

Tongan Advisory Council of New Zealand chairman Melino Maka has been involved in disaster relief efforts for the last 30 years, and he says the needs right now are simple. 

"Non-perishable food items like rice, noodles, tinned food - just the basics for day to day, and include in there some soap," he told 1 NEWS. 

The Methodist Church is organising sending supplies and is asking for donations at services this Sunday. 

The Red Cross says with a 1000 households seeking shelter, the best way for Kiwis to help is to donate directly to their Pacific Disaster Fund.

The relief efforts are set to be long term. 

"I just want to send a message to our family in Tonga - hang tight, help is on its way," Mr Maka said.

Many residents in the Pacific nation documented the extreme weather event. Source: 1 NEWS

The New Zealand Defence Force on its way to Tonga, an Air Force Hercules carrying relief supplies.

The Government has already committed $750,000 but more support is likely.

For Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa though, there are equal feelings of relief and pain.

"Most important for me is that both my parents are alive," she said.  

"There seems to be a whole lot of damage. My heart goes out to the people of Tonga. This is really personal to me. I was born and raised in Tonga, so to see that kind of devastation is really, really heartbreaking."

The New Zealand and Australian governments are also offering aid. Source: 1 NEWS