Christian World Service (CWS) is raising money to contribute to the rebuilding of cyclone-damaged Niue.

Cyclone Heta devastated Alofi and the only hospital on the island on January 6.

CWS is working with a small Committee of Niuean clergy in New Zealand and personnel from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand to decide on the allocation of any funds raised.

“These decisions will be based on needs as defined by Ekalesia Niue (the local church),” CWS National Director Jill Hawky says.

Ms Hawky says consideration will be given as to what the New Zealand government agency for international aid (NZAID) and other governments are already providing and the specific role that the church will have in responding to this disaster.

“We are concerned not to duplicate efforts by other agencies, but instead want to support the church in the particular work that they do.”

Some areas for funding have already been assessed. CWS will be supporting the restoration of church communications, the rebuilding of churches and key community buildings, and assist with trauma counselling.

CWS Communications Manager Liz Martyn explains that Ekalesia Niue pastors are already providing emotional support to the people of Niue. “We expect this will be ongoing work,” she says.

The Presbyterian Church in New Zealand has a close working relationship with Ekalesia Niue. Approximately three-quarters of people living in Niue belong to the church.

An ecumenical appeal was sent to churches on Monday January 12 and was launched through member churches of CCANZ from the following Sunday.

CWS aim to raise $25,000. Money raised through the appeal is independent of aid provided by the New Zealand Government.

The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand the Right Rev Michael Thawley approached CWS to organise the appeal through churches in New Zealand. They have raised $7000 as of writing and are continuing to get donations.

The theological rationale for the work of CWS states that “in times of natural and human-made disasters, CWS seeks to facilitate the member churches of the Conference of Churches in Aotearoa New Zealand (CCANZ) to respond with compassion and appropriate action, as Jesus Christ did.”

[First published Challenge Weekly, 2004]


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