ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2019
It’s a privilege once again to be able to review the Trust’s 2019 activities at St Andrew’s High School.
First, though, as we are writing this report in the middle of the 2020 Covid19 crisis, we can be thankful that Tonga escaped most of the direct effects of the pandemic. It says much for the efficiency of their health authorities and border controls that they were able to keep the virus at bay. That is not to say, of course, that the indirect effects have not been felt, in terms of tourism and trade, family disruption and bereavement when families who have lost loved ones in other countries. St Andrew’s lost about a week or so of Term 1 in lockdown, but was able to resume work at the scheduled start of Term 2.
School health and morale
After the 2018 financial crisis at St Andrew’s, things did not get back on an even keel during 2019. Morale among the teaching staff was low, valuable staff members had been lost, and leadership was disunited. At the same time the local Anglican church was making attempts to take over school property which Archbishop Winston Halapua had already affirmed as belonging to school. Discipline among students broke down, and there was considerable damage to school buildings and equipment.
The Trust’s policy was to hold a watching brief, maintain as much of its normal support as was prudent in the circumstances, and pull back in areas which had become risky. Having said this, there were some major development projects which took place during the year, through the generous support of sponsors.
Aiscorp and the school computer system
In last year’s report we paid tribute to the contribution of Aiscorp. Their major project to upgrade the school’s computer system was completed in January 2019. Under its CEO Elmar Gailitis (right), Aiscorp put together a project to replace the school’s servers and upgrade the computer workstations. The size of this project should not be underestimated. The fact that the impetus for this was generated completely within Aiscorp as part of their ongoing service to the client, is quite remarkable and a great testimony to their commitment to helping the needy in our Pacific neighbourhood. Thank you, Elmar and your staff.
VSA and ESOL teacher training
For several years St Andrew’s has been trying to raise the standard of written and spoken English among staff and students. This is a direct response to the Tongan education system in which students have to sit external exams in English. A partnership with VSA brought Lavinia Manoa (right) to St Andrew’s in 2019, to train three teachers in teaching English as a second language. As part of the plan, teachers from other schools came to St Andrew’s to join in her teaching sessions. .
Lavinia is a Kiwi Tongan, living and working in Auckland, and was uniquely qualified to take on this role. Through the generosity of St Andrew’s Parish in Epsom and other donors, the Hornsby Trust was able to contribute funds to equip Lavinia with equipment and teaching materials, and to defray the VSA costs of supporting her in Tonga. We are very grateful to Lavinia for giving up a year of her career to help in this way, and to VSA for taking up the project.
Training teachers is a long-term investment, and the results of this venture may not be seen for a while, but such was the success of Lavinia’s time at St Andrew’s that VSA has been working to find another volunteer trainer to continue the work at St Andrew’s and other Tongan schools. This process has been disrupted by the Covid19 crisis, but will be reactivated soon, we believe.
As always, a major part of the Trust’s funding goes to support individual students and school leavers in their study. 2019 was no exception, with 40 school students assisted with fees scholarships, and 2 school leavers assisted with fees for tertiary study. As from 2020, assistance to tertiary students will be formalised into Hornsby Tertiary Scholarships, which will be applied for and awarded late in the previous year to encourage able school leavers to set their sights on tertiary study. (Right - Fatafehi Hoponoa, who is studying at the University of the South Pacific with Hornsby Trust support, pictured here with her parents and and Rachel.)
A party of volunteers from St Andrew’s Parish, Epsom, visited St Andrew’s in July to assist with spoken and written English skills. They made a great contribution to the school, as they have on many occasions in the past, and it was good for the school to welcome the new vicar of Epsom, Sarah Stevens-Cross (pictured right, with Neil Shroff, taking an English class). Virginia Ashcroft, who has made several visits to the school in past years, was a solo volunteer for a month later in the year, assisting with English as well.
We visited in August, to assess how the school was coping in the aftermath of its 2018 financial crisis, and to do a variety of small jobs. It was disheartening to see that the electrical system in the school hall had been vandalized, as well as some of the classrooms which volunteers had renovated in past years. As mentioned earlier, there was a general breakdown in discipline among students, and this was one of the results. We were fortunate that Posesi Fanua, one of the ex-students who had been helped by the Trust, was working in Nuku’alofa as an electrical apprentice, and together with his supervisor, was able to come and repair the damage in the hall.
Dr Kay Hawk
January 2019 marked the last visit of our long-term Education Consultant, Dr Kay Hawk, to St Andrew’s. Kay (right) has been delivering professional development to staff, and mentoring the leadership team for many years, and has generously and faithfully given her time and expertise to the school. We record our most heartfelt thanks to her for this contribution to the future of so many young Tongans.
In 2019 the school’s former head prefect and music teacher Kaveinga was awarded a Diocesan scholarship to study at St John’s College, beginning in 2020. During the second part of the year we were able to help him prepare for this by arranging and paying for his English lessons in Nuku’alofa, so that he could pass the compulsory IELTS test, and also providing funds for compulsory health checks and a visa to get him into New Zealand. He will spend 2020 doing a Diploma in Anglican Studies, and then three years doing a music degree. Those donors who have contributed to his development as a musician and a person can be glad that their support is continuing to bear fruit.
Kaveinga is currently at St John’s, but his wife Fila and baby Lupe (right), with Kaveinga) are still in Tonga, having been held up initially by visa problems and then by the Covid19 crisis. We hope they can join him soon in Meadowbank.
The future for St Andrew’s
We are grateful to Rev Mo’unga Maka, the principal 2014-19 and deputy principal before that, for the tireless work he did for St Andrew’s over many years. His work at the school was badly affected by a number of factors beyond his control, and he resigned at the end of 2019. He was unfailingly supportive of, and grateful for, the Hornsby Trust’s work, and we enjoyed a warm and loving relationship with him. We hope he can use his many talents for the good of his country in the future. He has much to give.
Meanwhile we are encouraged by the appointment late in 2019 of a new Principal, Mrs ‘Ana Finau (right) who was Senior Mistress at St Andrew’s some years ago. For the past fifteen or so years she has worked for the Tonga Institute of Education (previously Tonga Teachers’ College). The new Deputy Principal is Mrs Fehi Vaokakala. The third member of the new leadership team is the Board Chair, Mrs ‘Akanesi Folau, a strong figure in the Anglican Church in Nuku’alofa, who has herself worked for many years in the Exam Unit in the Ministry of Education. So it’s all change at the top, apart from the very faithful school secretary, Naite Schaumkel, who remains in the office to provide continuity and institutional memory!
We are encouraged to find that the new Principal is an efficient communicator and clearly wishes to encourage the work of the Trust. It will take some time to restore the morale of staff and students, but the signs are good.
The events of 2018/19 were covered in a report into the state of the school commissioned in early 2020 by the Anglican Schools’ Office from Rev Tony Gerritsen, a former Principal of St Andrew’s and recently retired Principal of St John’s College, Auckland. While acknowledging that much ground had been lost, and that morale was very low, he expressed confidence in the new leadership of the school, and had high hopes for the future.
Donors for 2019
We acknowledge with thanks donations from many individuals and organisations, all of which have enabled the Hornsby Trust to improve the education offered to young Tongans in 2019. We thank especially:
· Aiscorp (Wellington)
· The Welstor Trust (Nelson)
· Generate Accounting (Auckland)
· St Andrew’s Parish, Epsom
· Chartwell Parish (Hamilton)
· Anglican Parish of Geraldine
· Rangi Ruru Girls’ School (Christchurch)
· St Peter’s Parish, Upper Riccarton
· Many generous individual donors.
Our thanks also to our fellow Trustees: David Brown, Jonathan Austin, and Angus Ogilvie, and particular thanks to Angus and his company Generate Accounting which handles all our finance and Charities returns. A copy of the annual accounts is available from us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to ask for them.
Simon and Rachel Tipping