Dear Friends,

For many of us, the New Year has had a good beginning, not least because we are having some proper summer weather.

For the people of Tonga, last weekend was not a good beginning for 2022. I share with you the following communication from the Anglican Missions Board and encourage generous support from our Diocese:

On 15 January, the underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted which led to significant ash falls across Tonga and triggered tsunami waves. The eruption generated an ash plume 19.2 km high. While electricity and mobile phone networks have been re-established on the main island of Tongatapu, communications with the outer islands are intermittent. The Tongan Navy has reported major damage in the Ha’apai group where waves were estimated to be 5-10 metres in height, reaching 500 metres inland. Pending assessments, damage in the northern more isolated islands could be significant and would likely include contaminated water and food supplies as a result of ashfall, as well as damage to buildings and crops caused by inundation.

Anglican Missions is working closely with the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia and has launched an Appeal. Funds will be used to replenish prepositioned relief supplies located at four Anglican churches in Nuku’alofa. Other activities will depend on an assessment of needs which should be available over the next few days.

Donations can be made via the Anglican Missions website. We will provide regular updates on our website as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

Given we do not yet know what the needs are in Tonga, we encourage people to donate money rather than goods. Please see the link here on the importance of not sending goods straight after a disaster:

The point of contact for Anglican Missions is:
Steph Fry, Programmes Manager
+64 27 786 2269

Before Christmas I harboured the hope that today I might be able to report that we have shifted from the Orange Traffic Light to the Green Traffic Light with some happier consequences for life generally and for our life together in Christ particularly. Unfortunately, this is not our situation today. We remain a nation concerned at what we read about the explosive nature of Omicron when it takes hold in a society and remaining cautious about any changes which might hasten the arrival and then spread of Omicron. Indeed, last night a change was announced (re the next MIQ “lottery”) which effectively closes our borders until further notice to many Kiwis planning to travel to their home country. For further details and reflection on the threat Omicron poses and how NZ could work to mitigate its arrival, you may like to read a post from Otago University here.

Consequently, we remain in the Orange Traffic Light. It is important that we get our booster shots, and uncertainty hangs over our lives as we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. For churches around our nation, we remain in a difficult situation. None of us want to be the next super-spreading congregation. All of us wish current restrictions on gatherings could be lifted. Once again, I encourage us to “patiently endure” (a recurring theme in the Book of Revelation).

I will be addressing the present situation in our Diocese at a meeting of the Senior Leadership Team next week and at the first Standing Committee meeting of 2022, the week after. Of course, any Government announcement of significance through these next days and weeks will be responded to with appropriate communication to ministry unit leaders.