For one local woman going on a voluntary work trip, it is the tropical island holiday she has always wanted, but with a twist.

A team of six Rotary Rotorua Sunrise members have travelled to Taveuni Island in Fiji to do voluntary work and help with an ongoing project for the Rotary Club of Taveuni.

The project is building and painting two teachers' houses at Nuisawa.

Michele Weston, one of the participating members, says she is most looking forward to being part of a community that is rebuilding and the experience she will get out of it.


She says she was told about the opportunity about four months ago and she has not been to Fiji before, so it will be a whole new experience.

"I've always wanted that tropical island holiday, so this is a holiday with a twist."

Organiser Lynne Joseph says Taveuni is a little island, about a one and a half hour flight from Nadi.

The mainstay of their club is an ex-Auckland Rotarian, Geoffrey Amos, who has initiated numerous major fundraising and health and education projects for the benefit of Fiji over the last 15 years or so, she says.

"Geoffrey has done it in one of the poorest, most deprived regions of the South Pacific, and from a club that has grown to 11 members."

Lynne says the Rotorua Rotary District recognised about 10 years ago the massive return on investment being achieved by Taveuni's projects and several clubs saw fit to contribute.

Since then, Rotary Rotorua Sunrise has continually supported Geoffrey's efforts.

They have collected and despatched more than 200 school desks and school equipment, numerous journals and hundreds of library books for the schools and pre-schools.

They have also collected and despatched hundreds of sheets, towels, other linen and items for use in the hospital and annual eye clinics the Taveuni Club hosts.

Rotary Rotorua Sunrise also collects and sends about 20 large boxes a year of surplus medical supplies donated by hospitals in the area, particularly Grace Hospital in Tauranaga.

Lynne says Geoffrey asked her about three years ago to put a team together to help refurbish a girls' dormitory.

"Several voluntary teams carry out project work on Taveuni each year, but our team made such an impression on Geoffrey, his family and the local workers, that we were invited to do so again last year."

She says plans for that were well underway when Cyclone Winstone struck and devastated much of the island, so recovery work took precedence - "the logistics and cost of contributing to that was beyond our club so we opted to await a more suitable project".

She says this team is voluntary and self-funding, and is giving up more than three weeks work and home life, "to provide goodwill, care and support to our international community neighbours in the true spirit of Rotary International."