Will.i.am donates $100k to low-decile NZ schools

Will.i.am was surprised in Auckland with a framed disc commemorating his album #willpower reaching platinum status here. Photo / Richard Robinson
Will.i.am was surprised in Auckland with a framed disc commemorating his album #willpower reaching platinum status here. Photo / Richard Robinson

Hip-hop star will.i.am has donated $100,000 to help low-decile Auckland schools provide information technology to students.

The US singer, songwriter and producer who rose to fame as a member of the Black Eyed Peas, was brought to New Zealand for a private show last night.

The star made a surprise appearance at Point England Primary School in east Auckland this afternoon where he presented a $100,000 cheque to digital literacy charity the Manaiakalani Education Trust.

Its executive officer, Jenny Oxley, said will.i.am's philanthropic work in the US corresponded closely with what the trust was trying to achieve here, in providing children in low socioeconomic areas with the means to participate in the digital age.

"He has his own charity in the States that encourages digital literacy, particularly in low socioeconomic communities, and as part of his visit here he came across information about Manaiakalani and made this wonderful gesture to us.''

The children were extremely excited to see the star in person.

"It was all pretty top secret until today and so the kids didn't know who was coming, they just knew it was an important celebrity, but they were over the moon,'' Ms Oxley said.

The money would go towards the trust's programmes of providing netbooks to students and their families, building its own wireless network for students, and supporting e-learning for teachers and parents.

The singer, whose real name is William Adams, talked to students about his modest beginnings in a Los Angeles ghetto, how he never knew his father and was driven by a desire to provide for his mother.

"He's clearly a very humble guy, very bright guy and it was great seeing him in person,'' Ms Oxley said.

The 38-year-old was brought to New Zealand to attend Hallensteins' Ultimate After Party at Studio on K Rd where he performed songs from his new album at the private show last night.

He said he was looking forward to exploring New Zealand.

"After tonight's party I'm looking forward to chalking up some new memories, so when I get back I can have something good to tell the folks back in America.''

He hoped to secure some tour dates later in the year in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, "and put on a proper show in this country''.

- APNZ

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