It's a fair distance from Eltham to Tonga, but for Paige O'Hanlon it's a trip worth making.

The university student from Eltham will be visiting Tonga later this year, but is packing more than just a bikini.

While others flock to the tropical island for sun, sea, sand and cocktails. 21-year-old Paige is going there for more altruistic reasons.

She will be traveling with SPAW (South Pacific Animal Welfare) in November to give some animals there much needed veterinary care.


SPAW is a New Zealand programme which provides desexing and veterinary care to animals in the South Pacific.

Paige is in her first year of studying to become a vet nurse at Unitec and says she feels lucky to be going on the trip.

"There are 63 students in my class and only 14 could go. We had to write an essay and do some practical activities to qualify."

Paige has to fundraise nearly $2000 to cover the expenses of her travel and medical equipment for the trip.

Paige held a quiz night in July as part of her fundraising.

"I had previously held a trivia night to fundraise for a dog rescue group. I enjoyed it so I decided to do it again.

"I came up with the quiz myself. I was really excited, the turnout was really good. The community is fabulous."

Paige says the turnout at the fundraiser and support of the community has made her feel privileged to belong to the community.


"I door-knocked local businesses for sponsors and spot prizes. I received $300 from Central Spraying Services, $50 from Paul Hamlin Builders and $50 from Smiths and Sons for example. If a business couldn't give a spot prize, many of them gave money. Everyone was so generous."

Paige's fundraiser took place at the Skinner Road Hall.

"I got to use the hall for $50 instead of full price. I'm really thankful for that as well."

Paige says she received help from many sponsors.

"I'm so thankful to all the sponsors that helped and also to my family and husband for being so supportive and helpful."

Paige raised $1310 from the trivia night to help with her travels. She is still fundraising in order to reach her target.

Paige says while she is excited about her upcoming trip, she is also nervous as it will be a huge learning experience for her.

"It is a huge learning experience. As a first year vet nurse I will be learning things on my trip that I usually wouldn't have learnt until next year."

Despite the nerves, Paige says she is sure the trip will have a lasting impact on her.

"I'm excited to make a difference and help in anyway that I can. I have always been an animal lover."

■ Paige will be travelling to Tonga on November 29 and returning in December 7. If you would like to assist with her fundraising, contact Chrissy Bennett on 027 765 6990 or email