Eleven Unitec, and three MIT, trades students return from spending two weeks working alongside a Fijian community in Western Fiji near Nadi to build four cyclone-resistant houses.
Cyclone Winston hit the Island nation in February this year killing 44 people and destroying 55,000 buildings. Many Fijians remain homeless today.
The ambitious two week project is part of a joint effort through Habitat for Humanity’s 100 Houses programme and Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Auckland.
The students lived and worked together in the settlement of Loqi, putting their trades skills into practice to build the transitional shelters and learning how to cope in an unfamiliar environment.
All of their travel, accommodation and food costs paid by sponsors.
The mixed team of students from carpentry, plumbing and cabinet-making courses formed a tight group of Auckland-based Maori and Pasifika Unitec and MIT students from New Zealand, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau and Niue.
Unitec’s Director of Pacific Community and Student Engagement Linda Aumua, who was also in Fiji with the group, says the project was an opportunity for trade students to give back to the Pacific community.
The trip provided invaluable real-world experience, helping to extend the students’ current curriculum work and help them learn how to work effectively with communities.
We have a strong history of engaging Maori and Pacific trade students with community projects including disaster recovery work in Samoa after the devastating 2009 tsunami.