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Science equipment, books and furnishings from Waitaki Boys’ High School’s soon-to-be-demolished science block are being shipped to Ha’apai High School in Tonga.

In 2014, cyclone Ian hit the Ha’apai islands, killing one person, injuring 14 others, and flattening infrastructure and half of all commercial buildings. It also damaged 13 out of 17 schools and wiped out most food crops.

Ha’apai High School was rebuilt, with assistance from the New Zealand Government and the Asia Development Bank, but was still short of furniture, books and equipment, Pasifika Safe Shelter Trust chairman Peter Rodwell said.

Ahead of the demolition of the old science block at Waitaki Boys’ High School, management agreed to give the old equipment, books and furnishings to Ha’apai High School, as a joint venture with the Waitaki Tongan Community and Pasifika Safe Shelter Trust.

“Much of the equipment, books and furnishings of the old science block are being packed and containerised, and will be shipped to Ha’apai,” Dr Rodwell said.

“This is exciting for all three local organisations to work together on this very worthwhile project.”

Local sponsorship is being sought to fund the cost of trucking, shipping and port dues.

Earlier this year, Waitaki Boys’ established a relationship with Ha’apai High School, when assistant rector Aisea Fifita led a team of four senior Waitaki Boys’ teachers to the Tongan islands.

At Ha’apai High School, they discussed the potential to take Waitaki Boys’ pupils on cultural exchange trips to Tonga and host Ha’apai pupils in Oamaru.

At present, 11% of pupils at Waitaki Boys’ are Pasifika, mainly of Tongan descent.