Court House goes red for Tonga

The Court House will be bathed in red light in a show of support of the Tongan community in Cairns following last week’s unprecedented natural disaster.

Saturday’s eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga on Saturday was thought to be the biggest recorded anywhere on the planet for more than 30 years.

The eruption and subsequent tsunami caused widespread damage to the nation, which is composed of more than 170 South pacific islands, and unfortunately there have been lives lost.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the local Tongan community was understandably concerned about the welfare of family and loved ones from their homeland.

“This is difficult time for our Pacific Islander community, especially as many are unable to speak with family and friends in Tonga,” Cr manning said.

“I wish to extend my support for our Pacific Islanders and the local Tongan community, who have been deeply affected by this disaster, and I am saddened by the reported loss of life and the significant damage caused by this disaster.

“It is at times like this we stand with our Pacific Islander friends and this simple gesture of lighting up The Court House in red is a demonstration of our city’s support and to raise awareness of this devasting disaster.

The Court House will be lit up red – Tonga’s national colour – for a week starting tomorrow (Saturday).

President of the Pacific Communities Council FNQ (PCCFNQ), Dinah John, said when news broke about the volcanic eruption, the local Pasifika families were aware of the possible ramifications.

“We knew that we would have to prepare for the worst, and it happened,” she said.

“The communication lines are slowly being restored in Tonga, but they are not at their peak. We’ve had families here struggling to find out new information from any of their families in Tonga.

“There have been situations where families from here have just managed to call their loved ones and there and phone lines have cut out within the first few minutes and they can’t seem to get them back again.”

“The heart break of not hearing from your brother, sister, parents, children, nieces, nephews or other immediate can become an enormous emotional strain on your personal health and well-being.”

Mrs John said the PCCFNQ was hoping to organise an event to raise funds for people in Tonga.

“PCCFNQ members, families and friends have been sharing #PrayForTonga all over social media in show of support, and we encourage the whole Cairns community to join us,” she said.

“At this point, we are on standby and waiting to hear how bad the destruction has been so we can organise a fundraiser with all our Polynesian communities in the Far North region.”

Mrs John said the PCCFNQ Facebook page was posting new information as it became available.

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