Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Polynesia responds to cyclone

The Diocese of Polynesia is putting phase one of its Anglican Missions-supported response and recovery plan into action in Fiji, co-ordinating damage assessments, responding to immediate emergency needs and considering options for longer-term recovery.

Taonga News  |  22 Dec 2020  |

On 17 December 2020 Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasa stormed across Fiji bringing devastating winds, with gusts reaching up to 350km/h and waves surging up to 12m. Today in Fiji four people were confirmed dead due to the cyclone and one person remains missing.

The Government of Fiji’s state of emergency is in its fourth day with 7,730  people still in 183 evacuation centres after the storm destroyed houses, schools and crops in Vanua Levu and Taveuni.

At the same time, flooding and landslides have blocked roads and cut off power supply to many of the Islands’ communities.

Archbishop Fereimi Cama has given thanks on behalf of his diocese for all the expressions of concern, thoughts and prayers they have received at this time. 

“Thank you to all those who have contacted us with your words of support and offers of prayer, our people appreciate your concern for us at this time.”

“We are grateful to God that we have been better prepared this time round for this category five Cyclone Yasa.”

The Diocese of Polynesia Registrar Rev Sepiuta Hala’api’api reported three Anglican schools are in the worst affected area of the cyclone, along with churches, halls and vicarages. 

“While all of the country was affected with heavy rain, strong winds and flooding, the worst affected was our Episcopal Unit of Vanua Levu and Taveuni where we have five churches, six worship centres, two primary schools and one high school.”

Cyclone Yasa has come as a double disaster for Fiji, which is still recovering from the most devastating impact of COVID-19 in the Pacific nations, which has caused a 21% drop in the economy making a significant impact on many people’s livelihoods.

The Diocese of Polynesia reported that some of the vicarages and halls in Vanua Levu and Taveuni have been used as evacuation centres. 

The Diocese’s Community Integrated Vulnerability Assessment (CIVA) training will be out in force over the next weeks, first in emergency response and then in recovery. 

The Diocesan relief and recovery programme is currently assessing the level of damage from the cyclone,

“All parishes in Fiji have been sent damage and needs assessment templates.” said Rev Sepiuta.

“Each church will identify levels of damage and include community needs. These will be collated and entered into the existing Geographical Information System (GIS) database that has been developed for the Covid response.”

“This information will be shared with the official Fijian Government response and also help inform the New Zealand response.” The CIVA approach is garnering interest in the Pacific and in New Zealand as an innovative and reliable way of not only assessing the impact of an event but also as a way of measuring a community’s level of preparedness.  

In next steps, the Diocese of Polynesia’s recovery plan will build on the existing post-Covid project which includes the distribution of essential supplies and longer-term recovery in the form of communal gardens on church properties. It will also likely include a psychosocial support element as this can be an area overlooked when responding to emergencies.

A positive development in the response to Cyclone Yasa, is that the Diocese of Polynesia’s response is being supported by a range of non-government aid and development agencies who will channel funding through Anglican Missions to the Diocese of Polynesia for their recovery work. 

These include the Anglican Board of Mission (Australia), Anglican Overseas Aid (Australia) and Tearfund (New Zealand). 

Once the Diocese of Polynesia assesses cyclone recovery needs in Tonga, it may expand to include Tonga in the Anglican Missions Appeal.

“Christmas is all about giving, and our brothers and sisters in Fiji need our help urgently. Please pray for Fiji and for everyone affected. Your generosity will help us reach as many affected people as possible.” said Anglican Missions National Director Michael Hartfield today.

To make a donation:

Anglican Missions, Aotearoa, New Zealand, Polynesia: appeal page here.

Anglican Board of Mission, Australia: appeal page here.

Anglican Overseas Aid, Australia: appeals page here.

Tearfund New Zealand, working with the Diocese of Polynesia in partnership with Anglican Missions –  appeal page here.

Please pray for Fiji and the victims of Cyclone Yasa

Lord Jesus Christ,

you are the one who calms the storm and brings hope to frightened people.

Hear us as we pray for the people of Fiji

as they deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Yasa.

Bless those who mourn the death of loved ones,

that they may be comforted.

Bless those who have lost their homes or businesses,

that they may find shelter and sustenance.

Bless those who are already economically vulnerable because of Covid-19

that they may find paid employment.

Move us to help in whatever way we can,

so that the people of Fiji may know your love

through the hearts of their sisters and brothers in Christ. 


Prayer from Anglican Board of Mission