“It was really a special experience,” Ms. Dorning Sands, who said she was in waters off the Philippines, said in a message. She recalled children coming out to meet their boat in Nomuka, pigs roaming freely on Mango and seeing whales every day.
“At one stage, we had whales all around the boat,” Ms. Dorning Sands said. “We were being so careful not to hit them, as they were everywhere!”
On Mango, where about 35 people lived before the tsunami, Ms. Dorning Sands visited the school: a single building, brightly decorated with students’ work and with a corner for reading. There, she met the school’s 13 pupils, aged between 3 and 13, and its lone teacher, who introduced himself as John.
“When we asked if they had a shop on the island, he said, ‘We have everything we need here. We don’t need a shop. We can grow our food, we have pigs and we catch fish,’” she said. “For anything else, they can go to another island.”
Mote Pahulu, who was born on Nomuka and grew up on Mango, told the New Zealand news outlet Newshub that the woman killed on Mango was married to one of his cousins.
“We’re absolutely devastated. Not only have we lost a relative, a very close relative, but everything else on the little island is gone,” said Mr. Pahulu, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand. “It was a beautiful little island, it was a little paradise.”
Yan Zhuang contributed reporting.