Newsletter - September 2017

September 2017

Dear Friends and Supporters of St Andrew’s High School,

We have just returned to New Zealand from three weeks in Tonga, our tenth visit in eight years, and would like to bring you up to date with news of St Andrew’s.

We were intending to spend all of July and half of August in Tonga, but as many of you will know, we had to spend July in London helping our youngest son Andrew through a major operation and convalescence.  It was not at all certain that we would be able to leave London by the end of July, but Andrew made good progress and we were able to leave him in good hands and get to Tonga early in August.

Thanks.  Before reporting on things at the school, we would like to thank all those of you who have supported us and the school over the past year, in your prayers and thoughts, and also financially – paying fees for students from needy families as well as for some of those who have gone on to tertiary study. We hope that by now you have received your thank-you letters and photos from your students. Thank you too to those who are now supporting the Hornsby Trust monthly. Your donations are helping to cover a whole range of expenses such as air fares for visiting teachers, reading books for junior students, maintenance around the school, the new fence and electrical work (see summary below).

The School.  We found the school in good heart. Deputy Principal Naimila Mafi (right) and senior teacher Liliani Havili spent two weeks in June/July on professional development leave at Naenae College in Lower Hutt, and found it very stimulating. They observed a range of classes, helped with the College’s Polynesian festival and learned lots about school administration. The Hornsby Trust arranged and financed their study leave with a grant from the H & W Williams Charitable Trust. We are very grateful to Nic Richards, Naenae’s deputy principal, and others who hosted the two teachers.


The Band. Shortly after we arrived in Tonga, the Inter- Schools Brass Band Festival was held, and the St Andrew’s Band under Kaveinga Vaka distinguished itself by winning four Gold Medals in Grade 2, and being promoted into Grade 1. As it was only the third year they had entered the Festival, this was a great feat and we congratulate all concerned. We are delighted that Kaveinga himself has been awarded a scholarship to study in England, and will be there for part of next year. We acknowledge again all the help given to Kaveinga during his year spent at Onslow College, Wellington. The band is now busy preparing for the consecration of the new Bishop of Tonga, at which their contribution will include accompaniment for massed choirs to sing Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Hallelujah Chorus.

The Volunteers. A group of volunteers from St Andrew’s Parish, Epsom visited the school in April, and ran a very successful “English Week”, to raise the standard of spoken and written English. One indicator of their success was the improvement in written English shown in the scholarship students’ thank-you letters in August. English proficiency is one of the major goals of the school, and year on year these letters have been a good indicator of rising standards. The April visit was the third from the Epsom team, and we really value the faithful support they have given the school over a number of years.

We are currently looking for volunteer ESOL teachers to build up English proficiency in the junior classes. If you know of anyone who could give at least a term (preferably a year) to this important work, please ask them to contact us.

Our education consultant, Dr Kay Hawk, a parishioner of St Andrew’s Epsom, has continued her valuable work at the school, with a week spent there in late January, and another planned for September. St Andrew’s is the envy of other Tongan schools in having her depth of educational expertise at its service.

In July, Cameron Pickering, a teacher from St Andrew’s College in Christchurch, spent two weeks at St Andrew’s Nuku’alofa, helping teachers prepare for the new teacher registration process which is being introduced soon by the government. He hopes to return later this year to offer more help to the school.  

A second small group of volunteers arrived from New Zealand on August 10th. For Eddy (far right in photo) and Sarah of the Christchurch Reformed Church it was their fourth working visit to St Andrew’s, and this year they brought with them another couple, Josiah, a builder (left, with drill) and Zipporah, a marine biologist, who worked together very effectively on the major building project, replacing the large picket fence around the school’s front garden.

 Zipporah (2nd from right) also made use of her marine biology background to give a lesson on the octopus to senior students. Three octopuses were bought from the fish market and dissected in class, after which they were cooked and eaten with relish by the staff!

John Hewitson, our electrician, also made his fourth visit to the school, and was tasked with carrying on the work that the late Robert Gilmour and he had done over the last five years. He made good progress with a long list of electrical maintenance jobs.

Work completed by volunteers in August:

1.       A new picket fence was built around the large front garden at school. Four technical students were involved in the building project, learning valuable skills from builder Josiah

2.       The old picket fence round the smaller garden was repaired and repainted

3.       A garden archway was welded together in front of the principal’s office

4.       Thank-you letters were written by scholarship students to sponsors, and photos were taken

5.       Over 250 books, donated by King’s College, were sorted and put into the library

6.       Sarah van Leeuwen helped younger students with their reading (right) using a book specially written by Penny Porritt, one of last year’s volunteers

7.       New switchboards were installed in the school flat, home economics store room and Lab B store-room. Two technical students were involved in all electrical work, learning valuable skills from electrician John

8.       A new earth was installed for the school flat switchboard

9.       Faulty wiring was removed and replaced in the home economics store room

10.   A serious electrical fault was investigated in the lab block, found and fixed

11.   Tree branches were removed where they were damaging the main overhead power supply to the school behind the hall

12.   Large rocks were cleared out of the drainage sump

13.   Two new toilets were installed in the girls’ block (funded by last year’s grant from the David Ellison Charitable Trust)

14.   Two toilet cisterns were repaired in student blocks

15.   Two new batteries were bought and fitted to school truck

Student involvement with volunteers.  A very positive factor in last month’s volunteer projects was the inclusion of six of the school’s technical students in the workforce. Four students were attached as ‘apprentices’ to the builders, and were able to learn carpentry skills from builder Josiah.

Two students were attached as ‘apprentices’ to electrician John Hewitson (left) and were able to learn electrical skills and theory from him. Most of these students made very good progress during the short time they were involved with the volunteers.

The school grounds are being kept in good order by deputy principal Naimila Mafi. One staff member has been deputed to cope with rubbish, and the grounds are noticeably cleaner. Naimila has also taken charge of the timetable, and the daily schedule is now operating much more smoothly. Next year when Siokatame returns from advanced study at USP, he and Naimila will be joint DPs, with Siokatame handling all assessment.

Three school-leavers are being supported by The David Ellison Charitable Trust through the Hornsby Trust and are all doing well. Two are doing trade training – one at Fokololo Technical Institute, and one at the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology, and one is completing the two-year music programme at Tupou Technical Institute. We are grateful to the Ellison Trust for their ongoing support.

The Political Situation. You may have heard the news that the King of Tonga, in an unprecedented move, dissolved parliament a week or so ago, and called an early election. We have been hoping that this will not have an adverse effect on important negotiations which have been taking place between the mission (church) schools and the present government. The mission schools have been asking the government to take over payment of all their teachers’ salaries, and at the same time to raise these salaries to the same level as those of state school teachers, which are currently four times as high. The St Andrew’s principal, Mo’unga Maka (right), has been a leader in these negotiations, and he reported this week that in spite of the recent political disruption, things are looking hopeful.

Trustees.  Brent Bruce, our Treasurer since the Trust began, has retired, and his place has been taken by Dennis Blank, a chartered accountant from Waikanae, who was at school under Reg Hornsby. We also have a fifth trustee now – Dr. Jonathan Austin, who is currently NZ High Commissioner in Singapore. Jonathan has a personal connection with Reg and Mary Hornsby, was a strong supporter of our work during his time as High Commissioner in Tonga, and is married to Salote, who is Tongan. We thank Brent for his service as Treasurer, and Dennis and Jonathan for their willingness to help.

We thank all of you, friends, sponsors and volunteers, who make the Hornsby Trust’s work possible, in helping to improve the education given to Tongan young people. Progress is being made, and lives are being enriched and changed through your help.

With our best wishes

Rachel and Simon

Managing Trustees