Thousands of Tongans converge at Mt Smart Stadium to send supplies to families hit by eruption and tsunami

Thousands of Tongans have converged on Mt Smart Stadium to send food and water to families affected by the eruption and tsunami. 

Among them was a man whose village on the west coast of the mainland had been largely wiped out. 

The broken and muddied Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa, is still blanketed in ash and debris. But on the west coast, particularly in the village of Kanokupolu, the damage is worse.

Waterfront resorts have been reduced to nothing but their concrete foundations; 21 homes were wiped out, another 35 severely damaged; and residents have been evacuated. 

Maasi Taukeiaho is from Kanokupolu and was at Mt Smart Stadium to send supplies not only to his daughter, but to others in his village who don't have family here.

"I am here to help them. My oldest daughter is still there and is safe," he said. "Food and water to send it to the people who don't have any family in New Zealand."

Each barrel was filled with non-perishable items - and sometimes a personalised note.

Tupou Ahau says she's deeply concerned about her mum. 

"I'm not there to help her," she said.

But this effort was a way to help ease the anxiety, tinned food and water being the main items packed up to be shipped out. 

"Families in Tonga have to turn up with their driver's licence or their passport because we need to make sure it's being claimed by the right family in Tonga," said Jenny Salesa, Aotearoa New Zealand Tonga Relief Committee co-chair.

It was a swiftly arranged relief drive, made possible largely by donations. 

There were hundreds of families there - a testament to the spirit of Tongans in New Zealand. Most of them are yet to even hear if their families are alive and doing well. 

"I haven't heard anything from my parents over there. It's hard but, you know, you've got to keep the faith," said Lova Tupou.

"I haven't talked to any of them. But we pray everyday. We pray for them," added Sina Fameitao.

Two of New Zealand's Navy vessels have arrived - specialist gear is being used to check the seafloor. A third ship, the Canterbury, is also heading up, loaded with two NH90 helicopters and earth-moving equipment. 

Three people are confirmed dead, but that could rise. 

"We're hearing rumours and stories of perhaps other missing people, but the situation is fluid and we're still waiting for a complete survey," said Tonga Parliament Speaker, Lord Fakafanua.

In the meantime, it's about showing the love - and it was obvious with the queues on Friday that there's no shortage of that.