The Taranaki town of Stratford has an army of willing volunteers to help with cleanup efforts after ex-cyclone Gita whirled through the town on Tuesday night - the pupils of St Joseph's Stratford.

Pupils in rooms nine and 10 at the school, who are aged between 10 and 13, have volunteers to bring their gumboots and old clothes to school on Thursday, ready to go out into the community and help with the cleanup.

Gabriella Gonouya (11) says they want to help as much as they can.

"We want to help people who have had some bad luck or have lots of stuff to be cleaned up after the cyclone."


Emily McDonald (10) says they hope to do physical work outside.

"Stuff like cleaning away branches, leaves and rubbish, and stuff which has blown all over the place."

The pupils say they know there was lots of damage around the town overnight as many of them saw damage at their own homes.

"There were trees blown down at my house, everything sort of blew all over the place," says Gus Tihema (11).

The pupils are modelling themselves after the Student Army that gave help after the Christchurch earthquake.

"It's about helping people, we don't want a reward or praise. We just want to make other people's life a bit easier."

Kate Beckett (11) says the pupils want to do their bit for the community they live in.

"We are trying to be more like St Joseph and caring for other people is part of that. It is part of the special character of our school so it is important we do it."


Sophie Kuriger (10) says pupils at the school are focusing their religious education on St Joseph this term, and volunteering their help fits in with this.

The youngsters are aware the work will be hard and dirty, but say they are making sure they stay safe as well.

"We don't want to clean sewage up or something," says Ollie Acero (11), and Ellie Brady (11) says the first thing they will be doing is making sure any task they are given is safe to do.

People in the community who would like some assistance with clearing up can contact the school on 06 765 5650 and talk to the principal, Chris Linders.