The Waimea RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) Consortium, which consists of Wai-West Horticulture, Heartland Group and Freshco Nelson, in conjunction with ITM Nelson and Freeman Roofing, will be sending a container load of building materials to the islands of Tonga to help the families of RSE workers repair the villages.
The massive devastation caused by Cyclone Gita back in February, caused significant damage to many homes and villages of the RSE workers engaged with the Waimea Consortium.
Robert Murphy, coordinator for ITM Nelson, was heavily involved in bringing all the parties together to ensure there was no spare space in the container, which will be packed with roofing iron, timber and fastenings.
ITM support a lot of selected local charities and groups, and Robert Murphy says, “helping out local workers from another country is a new one for us. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of Freeman Roofing, with hundreds of metres of roofing material cut to the lengths requested by the workers. This will be shipped, with 750m of construction timber and fastenings, straight to the workers and families in Tonga.
“Although they are getting aid over there, building materials are hard to come by and rebuilding work is slow. What amazes us is how this sort of help goes straight to those in need 100% and makes a massive difference on the ground.”
Anton Boeyen, GM of Wai-West Horticulture and spokesman for the Waimea Consortium, says, “all our RSE workers come from the islands of Tonga, and following the devastation we felt we needed to do something to help.
We realised we could not rebuild all of Tongatapu, but we could do a little to help some of the RSE get building materials back home to help start rebuilding their lives and regaining some normality. The support and generosity from ITM and their partner Freeman Roofing has been fantastic and integral in putting this together.”
With contributions from the RSE workers themselves, the Waimea Consortium, ITM and Freeman Roofing, there will most certainly be a number of families and extended families that will benefit with new homes to live in.

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