On January 15, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano in Tonga in the Pacific Islands violently erupted, producing about a cubic kilometer of volcanic material. The eruption and subsequent tsunami caused heavy destruction and left thick, volcanic ash covering the land.
The superyacht industry in New Zealand answered the call to action to help Tonga in the wake of the disaster by donating much-needed goods. Led by The Pasifika Collective, a corporate social responsibility initiative created by people in the Pacific superyacht industry for the people in the Pacific, they have raised NZ$3,000 for Tonga.
As soon as they heard about the devastation in Tonga, the New Zealand superyacht community donated to an urgent list of items put together by the Pasifika Collective. Among those superyachts were M/Y Como and S/Y Sea Eagle II, which delivered water and face masks among other things. Numerous industry companies also donated financially or by supplying much-needed goods.
“Most of our crew have spent significant time in the Pacific Islands throughout our yachting careers. The locals have consistently welcomed us with open arms, providing incredible experiences for crew and guests,” says Como’s Chief Stewardess Jodi Keith. “Supporting them during times of need is the least we can do to give back for all they have done for the yachting community over the years.”
Chief Officer Joshua Mangakahia of M/Y Como is a Cook Islander “and well-aware of the damage a natural disaster like this can do to these small island nations,” says Keith. “It only took reading the news and one conversation in the crew mess for our crew to start seeking ways to help. The only question was ‘how?’ That evening, we received an email from Mark Donaldson at Pasifika Collective with the answer to that question.”
As of the start of February, these goods had been delivered: 2 pallets of water (672 x 1.5L bottles), 12 cartons of toilet tissue (576 rolls), 6 cartons of face masks, a carton of hand sanitizer, shovels, brooms, 9,000 bars of soap, torches, batteries, rice, flour, cabin bread, and cooking oil.
Led by Donaldson, Pasifika Collective brings crisis management, education, and community outreach through the Pacific. Donaldson’s many years of experience in the global superyacht industry, combined with his Samoan and New Zealand background, makes him the perfect fit to head up this initiative. “It’s the Pacific way to help people in need and we will continue to send aid to Tonga over the coming weeks,” Donaldson said in a press release.
After donating what they could, their mission is to spread the word amongst other yachts in the area. They’re still in touch with Donaldson, who is providing updates regarding the current status of Tonga and the relief efforts.
“We are still coordinating and receiving offers of support and donations and are now moving into a stage of the operation where we will start to move from immediate relief efforts to rebuilding,” a representative told Dockwalk. “This will include sourcing small boats for fishing villages that had their fleets washed away.”
The first shipment of aid was loaded on January 20 in conjunction with the Pasifika Collective working with Tonga NGOs to make sure aid reached the worst-affected islands, which include Mango, Atata, Nomuka, and Fonoifua. They’re still seeking donations and help delivering more shipments that contain goods like bottled water, rice, flour, cooking oil, sugar, cabin bread, canned foods (especially tinned fish and meat), face masks, toilet paper, as well as tents, kerosene lamps, torches, and rechargeable lanterns.
“This is our first time working with the Pasifika Collective and it has been absolutely incredible. It is so great to have the transparency and communication regarding where and how our donations are being utilized as well as updates regarding Tonga and its citizens directly from those on site,” Keith says. “We are very grateful to our captain and the owner of the vessel for supporting the cause and the crew’s involvement. We look forward to working with Pasifika Collective in the future and hope that more yacht crew, captains, and owners can get involved.”