Neighbours and friends of Papatoetoe gathered on Sunday to spend some time as a community in the wake of a natural disaster that ripped through their streets last month.
After a freak tornado tore apart roofs, fences, power lines and more in mid-June, Papatoetoe residents have spent weeks cleaning up the damage to their homes, with a lot more still to do.
On Sunday, some took a break to gather in the Puhinui Domain for a sausage sizzle hosted by Stuff.
Families, neighbours and even members of the local Otara-Papatoetoe Board came down to meet each other and the Stuff reporting team that arrived in Papatoetoe soon after the tornado did.
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Anil Lal told Stuff that after the tornado, his only support came from reading local news and talking to local reporters.
He said he was yet to get through on the council and government phone lines where he can access financial assistance to repair his home, after his insurance policy lapsed the week of the tornado.
But at the Domain on Sunday, he met local board members Dr Ofa Dewes and Dawn Trenberth.
“Now I know who is in my community, who I never knew before,” Lal said.
Dewes said she hopes the children affected by the tornado are getting the help they need too, to process and understand what happened to their homes.
“You can relate it to the Wizard of Oz! Make it something that is related to New Zealand and Pacific culture, maybe something in the ocean,” Dewes said.
Smita and Ambadas Kudikyala’s kitchen, windows and bedrooms were damaged in the storm. Their young children Shanaya and Tanish are still working out exactly what went down that Saturday morning when their home transformed.
“Our house got broken,” they tell their parents. “The windows are broken. The doors are broken. The glass is broken.”
Kudikyala said his children will likely remember this tornado for the rest of their lives, and cannot move on from it until the cleanup is complete.
“Sometimes they do wake up in the middle of the night screaming, but whether that is the effect of the tornado I don’t know,” he said.
“Even I was shocked that after two weeks, how could these little kids remember everything, and explaining everything to me so seriously,” their mother said.