NEWSLETTER February 2024

Dear Friends and Supporters, Malo e Lelei

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of the Hornsby Trust and St Andrew’s High School in Tonga. We know that in these difficult economic times there are many worthwhile causes and demands on household budgets so remain very grateful for your contributions.

It is with some trepidation that we put pen to paper for this newsletter: following the extraordinary efforts of Rachel and Simon Tipping is a daunting task. We met them when they first came to Tonga in 2011, quickly became supporters and have followed closely the wonderful work of the Hornsby Trust under their leadership.

As you know, Tonga is not a rich country and St Andrew’s High School has only a very small income from limited Government grants and the modest fees it is able to charge. Consequently the impact of the Hornsby Trust has been significant, enabling children to attend school, helping the school to provide a better education and supporting students with their further education. The lives of so many young people have been improved. So when Rachel and Simon told us they felt the time was right to wind down their involvement, and perhaps the Hornsby Trust too, we felt sad that a period of such success
would draw to a close. The needs in Tonga have not changed. The rationale for the Trust remains as strong as ever. This is why we agreed to gradually takeover running of he Trust, ensure that donations are wisely spent and try to encourage you – our wonderful patrons – to continue your support.

Luckily Rachel and Simon are patient teachers and will stay on as Trustees, helping guide the Trust’s decision-making.

Simon and Rachel, together with Jonathan and Salote, travelled to Tonga in September as part of the process of handing over the running of the Trust. We met the St Andrew’s High School board and had detailed conversations with Principal Losana Latu.

The largely new board, together with the determination of Losana, who started as Principal in 2022, is helping to rejuvenate the school. When we visited in 2022 the school had fallen on hard times, and the roll dropped to below 250. This time the school was looking clean and tidy. The roll has stabilised. Late last year came the great news that St Andrew’s had the most improved academic results of all the high schools in Tonga. This year Forms One and Two (Years 7 and 8) have been re-introduced as well as, for the first time, a Form Seven. This will help St Andrew’s regain the scale it needs to offer a full range of subjects. The Hornsby Trust has agreed to fund the fees of the 13 inaugural Form Seven students.

Finding, retaining and training teachers remains one of the biggest challenges. Low salaries and the lure of temporary labour schemes in Australia and New Zealand do not help. Government teachers can earn up to six times as much as teachers in Church-run schools such as St Andrew’s. Fortunately the Anglican St John’s College Trust Board in New Zealand has agreed that from this year it will top up the difference between the two. Separately, the Hornsby Trust has secured a substantial three year grant from a Singaporean family charity, part of which will be put toward ongoing teacher professional development.

Last year, with your support, we were able to support the school fees of over 70 students. This was a significant increase on previous years, in part because of the ongoing impact of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption. This year, depending on the support we receive, we hope to fund 50 students. In 2023 we also contributed to the fees of seven students undertaking tertiary study at the University of theSouth Pacific Tonga campus, the Queen Salote College of Nursing and at Tupou Tertiary Institute. We will continue to support existing tertiary students whose grades warrant ongoing investment but have decided this year to support Form Seven rather than offer scholarships to new school leavers. We will review this later in the year. 

Elmar Gailitis and his AIS Corp company have been long-time supporters of St Andrew’s and the Hornsby Trust. In previous years Elmar has provided a range of IT equipment and cabling to the school. In 2023 he pulled off his biggest project in Tonga to date: a complete new IT suite for the school including a room of new computers and networking for the whole cam-
pus. The Trust, alongside Lions NZ, and Rotary International made a contribution to freight and travel expenses. The installation work, and over $100,000 worth of equipment, was courtesy of Elmar and AIS Corp with sponsors including Westlake Girls High School, Online Communications and Status Exports He was ably assisted at the Tongan end by board member Taniela Koloamatangi.

The Trust relies on your donations and interest income, including from a large bequest from Mary Hornsby’s Welstor Trust. Jonathan and Salote have decided that from 2024 onwards the cost of running the Trust will be covered personally by
them. This means that, unlike most charities, all income received from donors will go to beneficiaries with no overhead deductions. We are grateful for the ongoing generous free accounting support from Generate Accounting. The accounts for
2023 are currently being prepared and will be uploaded to our website in May. We, the school and the students deeply appreciate the support you have provided in the past. If you feel able to continue your support this year that would be wonderful. All donations are most welcome. If you would prefer to sponsor a particular student the school fees for 2024 are NZ$275 for junior students and NZ$330 for senior students. Please let us know or make your donation by the end of March as all students enrolled by 31 March attract a subsidy from the Tongan Government. A reminder, too, that all donations in New Zealand are tax deductible.

If you would like to make a donation our bank details remain:

Bank account: ANZ 06 0837 0302748 00. Please put your name in the reference box. If you are donating for the first time, please email us your name and address, so that we can thank you and arrange for a receipt for tax purposes to be sent to
Thank you again for your support, which continues to make such a significant difference to young people’s lives.

‘Ofa atu

Jonathan and Salote Austin on behalf of the Hornsby Trust.