Whānau Ora assist Tongan victims of Gisborne bus crash

Pasifika Futures Whānau Ora was part of a support network on the ground immediately to offer comfort and support to families of victims of the Gisborne bus crash on Christmas Eve.

Debbie Sorensen Chief Executive of Pasifika Futures says it’s a tragic event at this time of the year and Whānau Ora is providing pastoral care and support for the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones and those who suffered serious injuries from the crash.

“We can only imagine the devastation it has caused family, relatives and friends to receive such terrible news at this time of the year,” says Mrs Sorensen, “We were touched by the loss and we were there to offer support. We want them to know that they are not alone in their grief.”

Among the services offered was grief and bereavement support, visiting the families and those who were hospitalised, understanding their immediate needs and the provision of assistance to connect them to their families back in Tonga.

Mrs Sorensen attended the family service last evening in Ponsonby and was thanked for the support provided by Her Royal Highness Princess Salote Mafileʻo Pilolevu Tuita.

Mrs Sorensen says the tragedy was close to home as all the members of the tour group were from Vava’u which is where her family connections are and she felt privileged to be able to provide support at this time.

“We may have missed Christmas dinner with our families but these families have lost much more and it is the least we can do,” says Mrs Sorensen.

Pasifika Futures was able to respond immediately and send a team of Tongan-speaking staff who could immediately work with the survivors and their families.

Mrs Sorensen says such tragedies rally Pacific communities to assist one another in any way they can.

“As a community, we come together in the most difficult circumstances and in the midst of all this pain, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for each other is to share our feelings and offer one another support.”

Most of the survivors are planning to return to Tonga on the 10th January 2017.