School desks from Auckland's North Shore schools helps meet need in Pacific
Many New Zealand pupils take for granted having a sturdy desk to write on and a comfortable place to sit.
But an Auckland principal hopes his pupils will better understand what some children go without, through a donation from the school to the low-lying Pacific nation of Kiribati.
Forrest Hill School, on Auckland's North Shore, has already sent one container full of desks and chairs to schools in Kiribati, and is now collecting books to help full a second container.
The logistics have all been organised by North Shore-based Furniture for Schools Charitable Trust.
Trustee Callum Blair said, as the director of a school security company, he noticed a lot of school desks and chairs being disposed of.
"It wasn't good for the school, it wasn't good for the community or the environment," he said.
The trust is supported by Latter-Day Saint Charities, which pays for the containers and transport because it understands the high need in the Pacific.
Since starting two years ago, 52 containers of furniture and education equipment have been sent to schools in the Pacific, Blair said.
Rangeview Intermediate School in Te Atatu also contributed to the containers going to Kiribati, he said.
But there is still a need for more, with hundreds of schools without any furniture. Pupils usually just lie on the floor.
"They don't have anything," he said.
"One young boy [in Tonga] came in an-hour-and-a-half early to sit at his desk; he had never had his own desk and chair before."
Forrest Hill principal John Marwick, who attended Rangitoto College with Blair, said the trust offers a great option for schools wanting to recycle and repurpose their unused furniture.
He hoped his school can connect with the schools in Kiribati, which is heavily impacted by climate change and sea-level rise.
"The kids are working in the ground on mats; their pencils go through the paper," Marwick said.
"Connection is one of our key values and to have an awareness of our Pacific neighbours and what life is like.
"We're hoping the learning will continue with pen pals or something like that."