Tongan tsunami: treated timber sought for rebuild efforts

Friday 28 Jan 2022

A collective of Hawke's Bay building supply companies are coming together to help Tongans whose homes have been destroyed build temporary shelter. Following the volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga, the companies are fast putting together a shipping container of building supplies to send to the island of Atatā.

Spearheading the response is BBI wood products and Ecko Fastening Systems director Brendan O'Sullivan. He said, "like many, we have been really concerned about the situation in Tonga as we have close friends and employees from this great little country".

Tongans play a really important part in contributing to New Zealand's communities and the RSE workers in particular to Hawke's Bay's horticultural industry, O'Sullivan said. Pastor Unaloto Lolohea, a New Zealand resident of Tongan heritage working at BBI, was well connected with community.

"He told me about the RSE workers and their situation, identifying that they would require special help," O'Sullivan said.

Atata was one of the Islands to be completely devastated by the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, which sent a tsunami across the Pacific Ocean. The tsunami that followed the already destructive eruption was reported to have wiped out all the homes on the island.

"We wanted to do something to help given their link to working in our region," O'Sullivan said. The Tumu Group and Kiwi Lumber are contributing timber, BBI wood products is supplying plywood and Ecko Fastening Systems will provide fasteners, nails and Metalcraft roofing iron, RLB packaging some timber wrap. While water and food was crucial, there will be a need for shelter soon after, he said.

The collective is still looking at some other companies and products to do more. O'Sullivan said, being involved in the building supplies industry himself, it has been a really challenging time for supply.

"But I thought if we could get at least a container of building materials together it would go a long way to help." Over the next two weeks, supplies will be arriving at the BBI Hastings yard, where they will be split into individual temporary shelter packs. If we can get a good handle on additional timber available, we can do a lot more.

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Brendan is reaching out to timber mills in the North Island of NZ to see if they have any available 4x2 or 6x2 treated or any treated timber / plywood suitable for shelter structures for an initial helping hand. Ideally right now he is just seeking any indications for assistance with a view to potentially supplying more containers if sufficient volume is available. Donations of full packets will be delivered ideally to Auckland or the Hawkes Bay for packing.

If you can help out with this effort, please make contact directly with Brendan O’Sullivan at Tel: 021 655 802 or

Source: NZ Herald, BBI Wood Products

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