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Church Service to Launch Wairarapa's Vanuatu Appeal

A combined interdenominational public church service will be held to remember all who have died in Vanuatu as a result of Cyclone Pam, as the Wairarapa community co-ordinates its support for the relief efforts.

The service will take place at St Luke’s Union Church, Queen Street & Worksop Road, Masterton, at 5pm on Wednesday 25 March and will give those present the opportunity to express love, peace and hope for the people of Vanuatu. A book of condolences signed by the Wellington Community will also be at the church for Wairarapa people to contribute to.

It is the first stage in an action plan devised at a meeting of Masterton District Council, Pacific, church, Rotary and Iwi representatives held last Friday to discuss the community's response to the Vanuatu Cyclone appeal. It was also attended by a group of Vanuatu contract workers based in South Wairarapa, but who are currently out of work. Some of these workers have not been able to make contact with their families since the cyclone hit the island nation last week.

The meeting was called at short notice after Wairarapa residents asked how they could help the situation. The agenda consisted of two questions: as a community do we have the capacity and desire to help the people of Vanuatu in their time of need and if so, how?

The Vanuatu Consulate in Auckland, as well as the New Zealand High Commission in Vanuatu, have advised that food, shelter, water, clothes and medical supplies are the most urgent requirements. Over and above these basic human needs, financial donations are desperately sought.

The meeting resolved that members of the Wairarapa community who wish to donate money can continue to do so through the reputable global non-government agencies currently working in and supporting Vanuatu: Red Cross, Save the Children Fund and Unicef.

There will also be an opportunity for people to donate money to the appeal at Wednesday’s church service. The meeting decided that all monies collected will be accounted for and managed by the four district-wide Rotary clubs, which through Rotary International have extensive experience and logistical networks in responding to these types of emergencies. Rotary has already dispensed emergency kits and shelter packs to Vanuatu.

Donations of food and clothing can be dropped off at Masterton District Council offices, 64 Chapel Street, Carterton Events Centre and South Wairarapa District Council offices, 19 Kitchener Street, Martinborough. The greatest items of need are food that is relevant in terms of diet to the Vanuatu people, not necessarily that of Kiwis, such as tinned fish, tinned beef, rice, noodles and tinned fruit. Good second hand clothes suitable for the tropics are also required, such as t-shirts, shorts and jandals.

There will be further opportunities for Wairarapa people to support Vanuatu in rebuilding its physical and institutional infrastructure, but for the time being the priority is the welfare of the Vanuatu people.

24 March 2015

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