Hurricane Bebe

On 21 October 1972, Hurricane Bebe struck Funafuti in the Ellice Islands. Winds of 130 miles per hour caused widespread damage. Six people were reported killed or missing and 95 per cent of the dwellings were destroyed as well as coconuts and crops.

New Zealand Red Cross was allocated 54 cubic feet on the first aircraft New Zealand sent to the islands. They loaded this space up with medical supplies, two tents to act as dressing stations and distilled water.

Hurricane Bebe then hit Fiji on 23 October 1972 with even stronger winds (170 miles per hour) lashing the island. Thousands were left homeless and 13 people died. A large number of livestock were also killed. New Zealand Red Cross sent two tonnes of relief milk powder on the first available Air New Zealand flight, following it up with five more tonnes sent by sea.

Red Cross veteran Bob McKerrow arrived in Fiji on thae first available flight and quickly set to surveying what was needed in terms of relief supplies.

Hurricane Bebe led to the loss of some 450 head of cattle in the Western Division of Fiji – 50 Hereford heifers (as seen above) were purchased by Dalgety New Zealand Limited and shipped from New Zealand after New Zealand Red Cross obtained exact requirements from the Fiji government.

The Fiji Agriculture Department then bred them with Brahman bulls to create a cross known as Braford.