Cyclone in Fiji

Fiji experienced a Stage 5 tropical cyclone – Cyclone Winston – last night, causing fear and leaving major destruction. Wind gusts as strong as 325km/h blew down trees, power lines and some buildings. Corrugated iron from roofs flew into the air. Heavy rain and 12m high waves caused flooding in streets and inside buildings.

Some small villages were completely destroyed. Five people were reported dead. It is possible there is more damage on small outer islands. A New Zealand Air Force plane will fly over the islands to see what is needed.

Shops were closed today and schools will be closed for the next week. The government said there is a 5pm curfew so people must stay inside at that time. Before the cyclone hit, many people moved to special emergency buildings which were strong enough to keep them safe. They can stay there in the meantime.

However, the airport will probably open tomorrow. Many New Zealanders are on holiday in Fiji and want to get home.

The future for Fiji will be hard. Food crops were damaged or destroyed. Fiji will need help with the economy. New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister has announced some financial aid immediately with more to come in the future. Right now the people need clean water, food and shelter.

This is the strongest cyclone ever to hit Fiji. It has now moved west and could bring heavy rain to the far north of New Zealand later in the week.


• tropical cyclone – typhoon, hurricane
• Cyclone Winston –Cyclones are given names, starting from A. At the end of the alphabet, they start again, alternating between female and male names.
• destroy (v), destruction (n) – completely broken
• wind gusts (n) – sudden, strong wind for a short time
• corrugated iron (n) – sheets of tin with a wavy pattern used for a roof
• outer islands – not the main islands; outside the main two islands
• curfew (n) – a government order which says that people have to be off the streets and inside buildings
• shelter (n and v) – protection from the weather eg. a tent or building

Note: Fiji is 2,600km north east of New Zealand. Flight time is 3 hours 21 minutes from Fiji to New Zealand.

Update Feb 24th: Now 42 people are known to have died in the cyclone and there may be more. Fiji has many small islands and some villages on these islands have no buildings left and no food. 13,000 people are staying in emergency shelters. NZ is sending food, water and medical supplies, and engineers to help to rebuild.

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