Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Cyclone won't stop dorm build

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Builder Peter Scott and Matt Hodson are joining Breakfree volunteer group to help rebuild a rugby house in Fiji. Photo / George Novak
Builder Peter Scott and Matt Hodson are joining Breakfree volunteer group to help rebuild a rugby house in Fiji. Photo / George Novak

Rugby players, builders, and volunteers will descend on Fiji, just a week after Cyclone Winston devastated the country, to build a new dorm for a rugby academy for at-risk boys.

Tauranga builder Peter Scott, along with former New Zealand rugby sevens representative Hayden Reid are among the group of seven who will spend about a week creating housing for the 30 Fijian boys.

Mr Scott, who has gone to the Pacific Islands, too, said this would be his 10th trip.

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The group had already planned to go to Fiji before the cyclone, to help the Yamacia Youth Development Programme, which assists young Fijian men on and off the field.

However, the destroyed living quarters, taken out during the cyclone with the boys still inside but unharmed, has taken priority in the rebuild.

"We had a fear this sort of thing was going to happen," Mr Scott said.

Breakfree Expeditions founder and managing director Diana Judge said the situation had become "a whole heap more urgent".

"A lot of damage has been sustained," Ms Judge said.

"The level of damage is so intense."

Ms Judge said the boys were in the house when the cyclone hit, while the roof and walls were collapsing around them.

When she talked to members of Yamacia Rugby, they said the ordeal was "pretty terrifying" and naturally in shock, but "pretty stoked things are happening," she said.

The boys are "squished into a tiny, little house", and the group aims to create a safe, secure place for the talented rugby players to live.

The youngsters are mainly boys who have dropped out of school, with a talent for rugby. Many of the players have gone on to represent Fiji.

"They teach first-class rugby skills and life skills," Ms Judge said. "And how to be good men, basically."

The Breakfree group will be going to help from March 5 to 13, and if people still want to join, it's not too late, said Ms Judge. Volunteers, who do not need prior building training, pay a trip fee which includes accommodation and transport, and a contribution to the building materials used.

Former Bay of Plenty Steamer Graydon Scheres was also part of the group going on the Breakfree Expedition.

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- Bay of Plenty Times

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