The Room 8 pupils at Kaitaia Intermediate School were busy preparing a hangi yesterday morning, a treat designed by their teacher to thank them for all the hard work they had done to raise the money needed to pay off a debt, with a little to set aside for their end of year camp.
The kids weren't smiling though. They were gutted, having learned the day before that a thief had stolen every last cent of the money they worked so hard for.
A lump of concrete was used to smash a window, the thief taking a computer monitor, a phone and a laptop, but the unkindest cut was the $850 the children had handed in at the office for safe keeping.
They had spent the best part of a month planning their fundraising food fair, preparing slushies, toffee apples, muffins, cupcakes and mini pizzas to tempt their patrons with, and achieved a great result, enough to pay off what was owed on a trip to the Poor Knights and to kick off their camp fundraising. Until the money was stolen.
The burglar alarm had done its job, principal Sue Arrell said, but the security guard who responded arrived in time only to see a figure sprinting into the darkness.
Room 8 teacher Barbara Hall was as angry and upset as her pupils.
"They worked hard for that money," she said.
"Raising money isn't easy these days, but these kids got stuck in and got a great result. They deserved it; they didn't deserve to have everything they had worked for stolen from them."
Selfish mongrels - letters page 4