St Andrew’s Tonga Project.
Annual Report – September 2013
We hosted and facilitated the programmes for six groups of volunteers at St Andrew's from mid-June to mid-August. It was hugely busy and at times stressful, but we survived! Three groups, which averaged 15 people, came from churches in Whangaparaoa, Wellington, Picton and Christchurch. Two groups were made up of our friends and family, including friends from our home town, Akaroa, and one group of 16 students and staff came from King’s College, Auckland.
A group of about eight St Andrew's students worked alongside the volunteers throughout the eight weeks, gaining skills and confidence in a number of very practical and useful areas. All of these students have been acknowledged and their fees paid for the rest of the year.
Virtually all the projects on our list for this year have been completed, and we know that all our 82 volunteers returned home with a sense of achievement and a job well done. They were also deeply affected by the warmth, generosity and love they received from the students and staff of the school. Many described it as a life-changing experience.
Jobs which donated funds supported included:
- The building of a new room in an open space under the school library. This was completed, has become the new staff-room, and is much appreciated
- The renovation and repainting of 8 classrooms, constructing ceilings and installing whiteboards and display boards
- The repair and repainting of approximately 100 classroom tables and benches
- Making and painting approximately 20 new classroom tables and benches
- Building and decoration of new altar for the school chapel (paid for by Christ's College Chapel Fund) – blessed at a special Holy Communion service on the last day of this term
- The renovation and painting of the school toilets and showers
- A comprehensive review and tidying up of the school electrical system
- The construction of a new concrete path around a previously muddy part of the school
- Painting of a large number of exterior walls
- Further maintenance and redecoration of school accommodation for volunteers and visiting teachers
- Installing a water supply and gates at the school piggery
Thank you for your support for all these projects, which have made conditions in the school very much more pleasant for staff and students.
Other jobs done by volunteers included:
- Teaching a wide range of classes, including English to all levels, Maths, Accounting, Economics, Current Affairs, Science, First Aid, Health and Nutrition, Automotive Engineering, Music Theory, Cooking, Floral Art and Dressmaking
- Tutoring groups of younger students with their English reading
- Reviewing the school accounts and reporting on possible solutions to the school’s financial problems
- Professional development for teachers and school leadership
- Taking the official school photos
- Tutoring a group of student ukulele players
- A thorough sort and tidy of the school library, with boxes of unsuitable books being disposed of, newly arrived donated books being processed, and a new catalogue being made
- Medical assistance for students when needed!
The new school kitchen, built by last year’s volunteers with financial assistance from the David Ellison Charitable Trust, and equipped this year with equipment brought out in the container, has proved to be a huge success. It provides, with the classroom alongside as dining room, a base for all the parties of volunteers. Since then, the school Home Economics department has taken it over properly, and it is now a constant hive of activity, with school lunches being cooked most days, as well as meals for special school occasions. It has given us huge joy to see it being used so extensively!
Total funds donated to the project this year were $47,714.77. We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of grants and donations from Onslow Anglican Church, St Michael’s Newlands, St Andrew’s Epsom, the NZ High Commission in Tonga, the David Ellison Charitable Trust, the H & W Williams Memorial Trust and many individuals. The use to which these funds were put is detailed in the accompanying accounts. Donations are made through EdAid, and their use is audited by their auditors against receipts provided by us. We thank Mary and John Rowan of EdAid for all their help.
We mentioned in our last newsletter in June that the school’s Principal had been appointed to another position in the Diocese of Polynesia, and would be moving to Fiji. He and his wife and family were farewelled by the school early last month.
Since then, the Deputy Principal, Mo’unga Maka, has taken over as Acting Principal, and has already made a number of positive and welcome changes to the running of the school. A volunteer, Kay Hawk, who is an education consultant in Auckland, worked with him on her visit in July, and is returning to work with the School Board at the end of this month. We are currently planning a longer-term mentoring scheme involving a New Zealand educator.
Support for students in Tertiary study
In addition to the work mentioned above, we would like to support two particular students to continue their education beyond St Andrew’s, and will be raising funds to do so.
One of them, Sione Hala’api’api, worked tirelessly and faithfully in the kitchen alongside our volunteers’ cooks throughout the two months. He was chosen to work there as it was known that he would like to be a chef, and he certainly demonstrated considerable skill and application. We would like to raise the funds (approximately NZ$1,500) to put him through the Catering and Hospitality course offered by the Catholic Training Programme here. A Wellington parish has indicated that they would like to raise the funds for this, but if you would like to contribute, we can put you in touch with them.
The other student, Kaveinga Vaka, was Head Prefect of St Andrew’s last year and is a very fine young man, with considerable musical talent which we’ve been aware of for the past four years. His dream is to be a school music teacher, so we are putting together a programme of study for him in Wellington next year. This will involve observing and helping voluntarily at a secondary school, joining a brass band and choir, private tuition etc. Kaveinga has been conducting his church choir for several years (though he is younger than all the members!) and is now working here at St Andrew’s as a voluntary music teacher, taking classes, band and singing practices, and is impressing us with his skill and authority.
With a year of musical experiences and lessons in Wellington, we foresee that he would return home as a skilled music teacher and an asset to Tonga. We have calculated his costs as being in the region of $NZ16,000. This is a large sum, but we really would like to see it happen. We’re currently planning a fund-raising concert for him, as well as looking at scholarships (usually given for tertiary study). We know the church and community here will rally round him with generous donations. If you know of possible other sources of funding, or would like to contribute, we’d be grateful to hear.
Thanks to our supporters and volunteers
We would like to thank our donors and volunteers again for their very generous support for St Andrew’s in contributing towards the building and renovation projects for this year. We thank too those who have contributed school fees for students. We hope that in the next week or so you will receive letters of thanks from the students you have supported this year – some of these may have arrived already.
Your support for the students has been deeply appreciated, and in a number of cases has made all the difference to a particular student being able to come to school.
Thank you again for your support for us personally, for the work that volunteers are doing here for the school, and for the staff and students of the school. We are hugely grateful to each one of you.
Simon and Rachel Tipping