A school flattened in last year's devastating Nepal earthquake is to be rebuilt by a Tauranga Nepalese man with $44,000 raised by the Bay of Plenty community.

Tak Gurung, a local roofer, is heading to Nepal's Gorkha district in October to rebuild a school an hour's walk away from his home village, where his parents and sister still live.

The Gorkha district was at the epicentre of the magnitude 7.8 quake and suffered extensive damage and loss of lives.

Mr Gurung was living in Gisborne when the earthquake struck and was on a plane to his home district two weeks later. He left with $5000 raised by friends and, while in Nepal, his work captured the attention of some generous donors who gave him $100,000 towards rebuilding.


In the eight months he was there, Mr Gurung worked 12-hour days seven days a week building small homes for 55 Nepalese families and eight classrooms. He had to walk to the villages each day, echoing his own school days when he had to walk more than an hour for his education.

Because of the lack of roads he needed to find men to carry items on their backs across a suspension bridge to get the materials to the villages. He also trained up crews to help with his work.

Meanwhile, in Tauranga, members of the Nepalese Association Bay of Plenty were wracking their brains to come up with ways to help their friends and family back home.

A Givealittle page was set up, collectors hit the streets, donation boxes sat on shop counters, and a fundraising dinner and auction attended by Lady June Hillary raised $44,080.

Since then the association has been considering how to wisely spend the money raised and, as patron Peter Gibbs said, they have now found the right man for the job - Mr Gurung.

On October 6, Mr Gurung will return to Gorkha to build classrooms at a school flattened in the quake.

About 206 intermediate-aged children would attend the school.

"I want to give these kids opportunities," Mr Gurung said.

All the buildings would be built to New Zealand standards to ensure they would not be likely to collapse in any future earthquake - and as an added bonus, the buildings would be able to act as emergency shelters.

Mr Gibbs said when the association heard about the earthquake, everyone was shocked and distressed because they all had family and friends there.

"We sat down and tried to work out a bit of a plan. Everybody wanted to give something, they wanted something to do."

Mr Gibbs said with all the humanitarian efforts that were being made at the time, the decision was made to come up with a long-term project.

"It's been really hard to find a project that matches our criteria of helping one of the worst affected areas.

"We didn't want it to disappear into a big pot and for other people to get the benefit."

Working with Mr Gurung meant the money would all go towards the project, without local officials dipping into the funds.

In an ironic twist, Mr Gurung is playing the role of Mingma Sherpa in the epic television series Hillary, currently screening on TVOne. Mingma worked closely with Sir Edmond Hillary on many of his building projects in Nepal.

Mr Gibbs said the association wanted to retain ties with the school and he expected it would help fundraise in the near future to kit out the classes with books and furnishings.

He hoped a Bay of Plenty contingent would be able to travel to Nepal next year to officially open the buildings.

The Gorkha Earthquake

• Magnitude 7.8 quake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, with an epicentre in the Gorkha district.

• More than 8000 people were killed in the quake.