Books to Schools on
Lavella, Solomon Islands
From the Bulletin 19th
Bob McCaw (left)
and Peter Sugden (right) made a private visit to the island of Vella Lavella in the Solomon
Islands to visit the WW2 battlegrounds where Peterís father had
commanded the NZ Army 37th Battalion in action against the Japanese in
1943-44. They visited schools and talked with students. They were struck
by the lack of educational resources and resolved to do something to
The proposal was to seek Primary School
readers and reader/writing material from Hawkeís Bay Primary
School that has these materials but no longer required them, and were prepared to donate
books that could then be
sent to the Marivari and Boro Primary Schools, two schools on the island of Vella
Lavella closely associated with the war effort of the 37th Battn.
Following their visit to the Vonunu High School they also decided to
collect NZ Level 2 text books, suitable for the students studying
for their South Pacific Form 6 Certificate. The High
School of Vonunu is the only secondary school on the island.
Andrew Wiig offered his commercial building for
initial storage and the Air Force was approached to see if they would
be able take the books up to the Solomonís on
a Hercules flight. At the same time, David Conroy approached to assist with freight
to Whenuapai and Bob got in touch with his contacts in the Islands to
get their assistance.
Approaching Vonunu Secondary School,
Bulletin 28 Nov 2013
Half a dozen members turned
out to help with a final pack for the year. There is little chance of
sending the books off before the end of the year. With the Philippines
cyclone disaster, the NZ Defence Forces have probably been fully
stretched for this year. Hereís hoping we may get them off before the
end of March next year. We need to remember Jan-April is historically
cyclone season in the Solomonís. Itís the seeding area for the beasts in
this sector of the world.
To date we have packed 40 cartons, and still have books to pick up
from Taradale High School and St. Johnís College, where the husband of
Peter Sugdenís niece, Neil Swindell, is the Principal. Neil has recently
been appointed Principal of St. Pats (Town), Wellington, but before
leaving he has organized some books for us. Much of the material sorted on Saturday was done to eliminate
material we call "Kiwi imperialism".
We are trying to avoid
sending material which is overtly directed towards the Kiwi learning processes,
so we discarded material about Maori history and way of life, European
history, etc. What we did find that was suitable, was material
relating to Pacific history and Island ways of life. To all the
schools who have contributed learning and reading material we owe a huge thanks.
Addressing Form 6 (Year 12) students at Vonunu
Teachers Mabel & Chrystal with
pre-school infants at the school of Marivari
Pre-schoolers playing on the road built
by soldiers of the
NZ 2nd Division based in Marivari 1943
collection from Henry Hill Primary School
A huge supply
of primary readers and teaching materials have been donated to the
project by Henry Hill Primary School.
On the left,
Frank Crotty and Peter Sugden gather the books and
teaching materials from the school with the help of school pupils
Dayna (L) and Tyra Lee(R)
Frank and Peter
load Peters trailer.
Taking the books
to temporary storage in Adrian Wiigs shed in Onekawa
In 2012, Bob
McCaw finally responded to Peter Sugden's request that they organise a
trip to the island of Vella Lavella, an island in the Western
Province of the Solomon Islands. Bob had extensive work experience in
the country and had a number of contacts within the Ministry of
Education. In particular was Moffat Wasuka, who worked with Bob
at SPBEA for 7 years before retiring back to Honiara in the Solomons in
1997.In 2010, Bob asked Moffat if he could help with the planning of the
journey to get Peter to Vella Lavella. Moffat was a vital contact and he
put them in touch with Kuve Marlon on the island of Gizo.Kuve
offered to organise the tour to the WW2 battle areas, providing outboard motorboat transport,
a guide and boat captain. This proved a very
satisfactory arrangement and lead to a successful trip. Bob travelled
with Peter and his son Paul, to film the visit, and at the end they
visited two schools; a secondary school at Vonunu, and a primary school
As a result
of these visits,
they returned home, determined to organise suitable school reading
text books for the schools they had visited.
Moffat Wasuka and Bob McCaw.
Honiara 24 October 2012
Bob, as members of their Rotary Club's Foundation committee, proposed the book project
and this was put to Directors in August 2013. The Rotary Club of Taradale
enthusiastically embraced the idea despite the difficult logistics in
getting a large consignment of books to an offshore island with no
direct air of sea services. It was clear the books would have to be
shipped by ferry to Gizo, a popular place for divers and tourists, but
still 20km from Vella Lavella. Kuve Marlon was very keen on the idea and
promised to distribute books from Gizo to schools on Vella, provided his
costs were met. There remained the outstanding problem of getting the
Auckland to Honiara.
suggested that a number of book projects had been supported by the NZ
Defence forces, taking book consignments to various South Pacific
countries when they had the capacity. In fact two such book projects had
been organised prior to 2010 with Defence Force Hercules planes moving
the books into the Solomons. Peter took responsibility of contacting the
military and while promising assistance, it was clear no flights were
planned for the next six months.
Renfree and Peter Sugden look over the books
Vella Lavella Project in Conroy's shed
By now the
books had been moved from Adrian Wiigs shed to a large packing shed
offered by David Conroy. This provided a spacious area with tables
needed for sorting.
In August 2012 Moffat
had informed Bob that an old
pupil of his from his time at Napier BHS,
Richard Hellyer, was now working as an
Education Sector Advisor to the Ministry of
and Human Resources Development and living in Honiara. Bob
had met up with Richard on his return from Vella Lavella.
Richard became a key supporter of the
book project. and in Christmas 2013 he
took time to visit the packing shed with Bob, Peter and others.
had a good look at the books and other teacher resource material,
and said they would all be suitable for the Solomon Island
appreciated by the local teachers.
He said he would oversee the arrival and
immediate storage of the cartons on arrival. They would then be
reviewed and classified by another primary education expert in
Honiara, Joyce Boykin.
Richard also approached the Permanent
Secretary of Education, Dr Franco Rodie,
who agreed that the Ministry would pay for all internal distribution costs.
This covered not only freighting the books to Gizo but any ongoing
distribution costs incurred by Kuve Marlon. Kuve offered to uplift the
books from Gizo, the nearest ferry port, and deliver them to the schools
on the island. He was eventually reimbursed for this by Joyce Boykin,
who acted as a Ministry agent in this matter.
Richard Hellyer (centre) with Peter Sugden (left) and Paul Bee
For the next 6
months the club collected books.
Books and other teaching material poured
in from primary schools around Hawkes Bay and many Club members were
involved in picking them up and bringing them to the packing shed. Arthur Miller School gave a whole set of sports T-shirts.
material came from many HB schools. St John's College in Hasting donated
a full set of Level 2 (Form 6) brand new Accounting books.
Working bees were organised each Saturday
morning over this period. These lasted 1-2 hours, where Club members and
wives sorted and classified material. Secondary material had to be
packed separately from primary; the boxes were then taped and securely bound
ready for palletising.
During this time Richard Hellyer visited the
packing shed as he was home over Christmas visiting relatives. He
informed the project organisers' that a local expatriate women, Joyce
Boyken, would receive the books on arrival, check them for
suitability, repackage and arrange the transport to Gizo. Altogether
there were 54 standard packing boxes occupying two pallets.
Peter, Bob and Bob Knappstein in the Arthur Miller T-shirts
of the two palletised packs
boxes bound for Vununu High School
|By early March
2014 the plan to wait for transport with the Defence Forces was
abandoned, and the Club agreed to meet the cost of $1000, a rate
subsidised by Conroy Removals.
last of the project steps was in place when Kerrie Kennedy, secretary of
the Rotary Club of Gizo, agreed to supervise the unloading of the books
at Gizo's port and liaise with Kuve to pick them up for delivery to
schools on the island.
supervises the loading of the two pallets of 54 cartons.
thanks Gary Conroy for all the help Conroy's have given
consignment of 54 boxes in two pallets finally left Auckland in May 2014
and arrived in Honiara mid June. Joyce Boyken and
her team took over and opened all cartons for checking. All material was
passed as suitable.
At this late
stage, the project organisers requested a change in distribution. In
April 2014 Honiara, and much of Gualacanal, had suffered disastrous
flooding so the Taradale Club suggested that 27 boxes remain in Honiara and be a gift from the
Club to the Ministry to be used to help the most affected schools
replenish their reading material.
The Ministry gratefully accepted this
offer and the reduced consignment to Vella Lavella schools was divided
equally (7 boxes each) between Vonunu, Maravari, Boro, and Leona, where Kuve
Marlon is the Chairman of the Leona school committee. Halving the
consignment to schools in Vella Lavella in no way reduced the value of
what they were receiving, as each carton contained hundreds of old
A vital aspect in ensuring a satisfactory
conclusion to international projects of this nature, is getting
photographic evidence that the books are finally in place. Thanks to
modern technology the Club was delighted to receive photos of the
of the books, the books in the hands of students and teachers, and
letters and emails of thanks.
books arrive in Honiara, Solomon Islands
Boyken's team, Honiara
(Photos courtesy Joyce)
Samuel Zoro, Bursar of Leona Primary, accepts his schools books along
with Kuve Marlon
and the Principal of Maravari Primary School
(Photos thanks to Kerrie Kennedy)
Appreciation from Permanent Secretary of Education and Human
Mr. Merv Kite - President
Taradale Rotary Club
P.O. Box 7084
Dear Merv Kite,
I write to you to inform you that your Rotary Clubís generous gift
of reading books for targeted primary and secondary schools in the
Western Province and on Guadalcanal was happily received by the
teachers, staff and parents. Once children become literate, books
are essential to at least sustain reading levels already achieved
and to also offer the opportunity to increase comprehension and
Twenty-eight cartons of books were
sent on a ship to Gizo and then on outboard motors (OBM) to Vella
Lavella. This was the second attempt to deliver the books because
the week before, when the ship arrived, there was quite a severe
rainstorm so the cargo was left below decks. The next day, the ship
returned to Honiara with the cartons still on board. After a week,
the ship returned to Gizo with the hope that this time the weather
would allow the cargo to be taken off. Finally, luck was with us and
all went well. The coordination team set in motion the transfer of
the twenty-eight cartons to OBMs to continue the trip to the outer
On Guadalcanal, the distribution of
the twenty-eight cartons was a bit different. The Guadalcanal
Provincial Government Education Officer sent out radio messages to
the schools on the weather coast to have staff collect them in
Honiara. So far, only a few cartons are still waiting for the
hand-over. The schools on the south side of the island are rather
remote, so receiving materials is always a challenge. However,
principals and parents representing many schools have happily
arrived to collect their cartons and transport them to their school
Please know that your efforts and
determination to make a difference in the educational lives of
children in the Solomon Islands has paid off. Hundreds of students
will have benefitted from your project to supply books to our very
needy schools. We cannot thank you enough.
Dr. Franco Rodie
Ministry of Education and Human
This was a very successful project and
one the Club is proud of.
David and Gary Conroy of Conroy Removals helped
- providing storage space
- providing standard packing boxes,
- transporting the book
consignment to Auckland, and
- discounting international freight
The Club responded by making Paul Harris
Awards to the brothers at Changeover night 2014.Read
A sad footnote was that Moffat Wasuka
died on 15th October 2013. Bob in particular, lost a valued colleague
and friend, and Peter and other members of the project team were saddened
by Moffat's passing. Without his help this project would not have