Helping hand for sister school

By Amy Shanks

Hastings Intermediate hopes to raise $10,000 for its Fijian sister school, which was left in ruins after tropical Cyclone Evan dealt it a punishing blow last month.

Students from Namara School, on Wayalailai Island, lost all of their class resources, furnishings, sports equipment and other materials, when more than 80 per cent of the village and school was, damaged or destroyed.

"Thankfully no loss of life has been recorded," Hastings Intermediate principal Andrew Shortcliffe said.

The island was populated by just 250 people and the small school of 50 was essential to the community's future.

"We have staff from our school there at present, they have gone over to assess the situation, determine how best we can help and to let them know we are here ... They are also cleaning up," Mr Shortcliffe said

For Hastings Intermediate pupils, the sister school relationship was personal, with 20 students visiting for nine days each year to help teach lessons in te reo Maori, physical education, social behaviour and health.

During December, nine children from Namara, their principal and board chairperson, also travelled to Hastings for a week.

"For most of the students, this was the first time they had left the island let alone boarded a plane and travelled overseas," Mr Shortcliffe said.

"[They] spent the week making new friends, learning in class and attended the school prefects' end of year annual dinner, where Minister Tariana Turia, Mayor Lawrence Yule and local hero Mr Henare O'Keefe were guest speakers."

Undaunted by the occasion, the visitors performed traditional Fijian songs and dances on the night and made a lasting impression on everyone.

To raise funds, Hastings Intermediate will be organising a mufti day, school disco and raffle. It has also set up a website:

Local sponsors and parents have contributed more than $4000 to the cause in just a week, while the manager of Kmart in Hastings offered clothing for the 50 school children.

Anyone willing to help can leave a message with Mr Shortcliffe to donate raffle prizes or make a cash donation online.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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