Volunteers ready for challenge in Kiribati

By Sandy Myhre

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Boat harbour, Betio island, Tarawa, Kiribati. Photo / Ross Setford
Boat harbour, Betio island, Tarawa, Kiribati. Photo / Ross Setford

Heading to a South Pacific island that has limited access to fresh food and vegetables is not everyone's idea of a good time, but for the Hokianga's Aaron and Emma Hicks, it's a combination of work experience and lending a helping hand.

The couple leave in early July for Kiribati as part of the Volunteer Service Abroad scheme.

Mr Hicks was born and raised in Broadwood, North Hokianga, and attended Whangarei Boys' High School as a boarder before gaining his degree as a land surveyor.

In Kiribati he will provide NZQA training to local surveyors who have received scholarships to study in New Zealand through the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, and will provide general surveying advice to the country.

Mrs Hicks, an environmental planner, will be working with the land management department to assist with planning procedures, data management and administration. For the next 18 months they will be based in the capital, Tarawa.

"Tarawa's highest point is only 2m above sea-level, it's overcrowded and we won't have access to a lot of fresh food other than an abundance of fish," said Mr Hicks.

It is unpaid work. The couple are self-funding their trip through the Everyday Hero website and have reached more than half their target of $4000.

They have downsized many of their possessions and donated a portion of the proceeds of sales to their fund.

Whangarei company, Opus International, has donated some of the surveying equipment they will take.

- Northern Advocate

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