1. Invasive Mosquito and Mosquito Borne Diseases Dissemination Trip
Nov 13th to 22nd 2007
Each morning Jon and Culum would head off to gather more data, go to new sites etc while Esme and I would head out to schools and/or meetings.
Dr. Jon Harding (University of Canterbury Freshwater Ecologist), Esme Robinson (University of Canterbury Ph.D. student) and Russell Taylor (University of Canterbury Tonga Project manager and EcoCARE Pacific Trust) arrived in Tonga at 8:35pm and got a lift to Papiloas (Friendly Islander Motels).
Dr. Culum Brown (Macquarie University Fish Biologist) arrived on the 12th Monday.
Setup experiments at the New Zealand High Commissioner's residence. Rented van and went to visit the Health Department. I met with the Director of Health and we discussed shipments of health goods to Tonga.
Met up with John Irwin (documentary film maker and EcoCARE Advisor) and chatted about the Health Department film project.
Met the Assistant director of Education and then had lunch with the Minister of Education.
Organised to be taken around to schools the following day to visit with the principals.
Had dinner with John Irwin and Karen from fisheries Aus Aid. Karen informed us that there are 5 companies in Tonga that have licenses to take 100 ton/license of live coral and live fish for aquariums. They are moving their operations from Tongatapu to Ha’apai.
Visited Lehana High School and spoke with the principal there and gave him the presentation.
Went to Tupo College, a very old school and spoke with the deputy principal there. We were also invited for lunch.
At 2pm I was interviewed by Tonga TV at Papiloa’s and then interviewed by Australian National Radio.
At 7pm I met with Paul Fonua of Tailulu College and Siale from the Tonga Community Trust
Jon and Culum left for Eua at 7am so had to drop them off at 6:30am.
Esme and I went to the Education Ministry and met with the Minister. We secured dates for his visit to the University of Canterbury of the 3rd and 4th December.
We met with Tuamelie to discuss the national list of items for schools.
We also discussed the national competition that I have organized with the school principals. Next year 5th, 6th and 7th form students will be offered the opportunity to carry out a science project of their choice using formal scientific procedures (hypotheses, replication, controls etc), analyses of data and a formal scientific write-up (introduction, methods, results, discussion and referencing). Projects should be handed in by the end of the first term (May) and teachers should have the best 3 projects/school to us by the end of the May break. We will mark them and awarded prizes for the best 3 projects in Tonga by the end of the August break.
Prizes will include a computer for the schools, a prize for the teacher and a prize for the student. We are able to informally assess the quality of the work with this method and exceptional projects may be invited by UC to be formally assessed and may be offered scholarships to attend UC in 2009 if funding can be found.
I discussed with the Minister of Education the idea of UC having the use of an island in each of the main groups of islands to establish marine sanctuaries and research stations. These islands have been donated by the Education Ministry for educational and research purposes.
Spent all morning organizing the tickets that I had booked a month ago. We finally got our tickets after sitting in the office for an hour and half.
Our plane left at 3pm and arrived in Ha’apai at 4pm. I was met at the airport by Anna principal of Ha’apai High School. We went to her high school and I discussed the mosquito project with her. She took me back to our guest house and I decided to wander off and have a look at St Joseph's School. I met up with Paulo, the principal of St Joseph's. I had a look around his school.
Went out in the field with Jon, Culum and Esme. We sampled much of the North and South of both islands.
Had lunch at the Mele Tonga Guest House.
Did some more sampling and went back to the Mele Guest House for dinner.
Picked up by the principal of the Ha’apai High School (Anna) who took us to St. Joseph's again to meet with Paulo (Principal) and his science teacher. I spoke Paulo about the project and the potential for his students to advance. What a sad school. They have two working computers (both EcoCARE/UC computers that we supplied last year) and they are in the students' lab. The principal has no computer so all admin, writing exam papers everything that has to be done using a computer is done on these two computers. They have no internet because the church said it was too expensive. They have very little to teach with.
Went to the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga at Taufa’ahau College and met the Reverend Katalina Lutui who worked with the SBS HoD when she was a VSA in Ha’apai. She says hi to Paula.
Went to Free Church of Tonga School and met the principal there. Another very poor school. There are only 80 students at this school and last year it was going to be closed down but the principal and teachers got together, worked and took pay cuts to keep it open. Their computers are very slow, 200 MHz or so. The fastest computer at school is in the principal’s office and is about 700 MHz.
Went to Ha’apai high school which was built in 2001 using aid money from China. Anna is a very nice and intelligent person and has an MBA from USP. I met with her and her Science and 7th form teachers about the project that we are running. They are very excited for their students.
Went to the hospital in Ha’apai and had a look at the water filtration plant that is set up in the repaired hospital. The nurses there and Anna also said that this small filtration system is the source of the only safe water in all of Ha’apai. It was advertised in all of the churches and community groups and schools so that anyone in the community can go to the hospital with their containers and get at least some safe water.
When we had finished there Anna drove us back to our accommodation and then returned to pick us up to take us to the airport.
Our flight to Vava’u left at 4:00pm.
When we arrived at Vava’u we were met by Tony from Vavau High School. He took us to the Paradise Motels and will return tomorrow to take Esme and me around to schools and a vehicle for Jon and Culum.
Met by Toni at 9:00am and we began our journey to schools: Free Wesleyan, Seventh Day Adventists, Chanelle Catholic, Vavau High School and Tailulu College.
That evening the Principals of all high schools had a function for us where we were given gifts and a speech was made. The speech thanked us for the work that we have done and are doing and also thanked us for identifying that first world rubbish is third world gold and that the computers and other secondhand items are very valuable acquisitions for the people of Tonga.
Back to Tongatapu to clear up the experiment at the High Commissioner's residence and for final meetings before we head back to NZ.
Whew, Jon and Culum got an enormous amount done, with an incredible 18 new sites on Tongatapu alone as well as revisiting previous sites sampling new sites in Ha’apai and Vava’u and setting up a major experiment.
26 schools in 7 days (arrived at 8:30pm, day one gone, Left at 10am day 9 gone). As well as that there were numerous meetings and functions.
Don’t let any one suggest that sending old computers to third world countries is a dumb idea.
If the computers are P4 and up, network enabled and are corporate or institutional they are valuable items.
2. University of Canterbury and Christchurch City Council visited by the Minister of Education from Tonga
3rd December 2007
Minister arrived at Christchurch Airport 10:20 am.
11:30am: Lunch hosted by Jeff Field (University of Canterbury Registrar)
Dr. Malakai Koloamatangi (UC Political Scientist and EcoCARE Pacific Trust), Les Brighton (International Director), Steve French (College of Education, Senior Lecturer), Hon. Dr. Tevita Hala Palefau (Minister of Education), Prof. Paula Jameson (Head of School of Biological Sciences), Lorraine Petelo (Foundation Studies Head of Department), Neil Lancaster (Associate Dean, Secondary Teacher Education), Lisa Jones (International Programs).
At this lunch we discussed potential scenarios and support systems surrounding undergraduate and postgraduate students attending the University of Canterbury from Tonga.
We also discussed teacher training, curriculum and policy changes to the Tongan education system.
2:00pm The Minister met with the University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor to discuss closer ties between the Ministry of Education and the University of Canterbury.
Prof. Ian Town (Deputy Vice Chancellor), Prof. Paula Jameson (Head of School of Biological Sciences), Prof. Roy Sharp (Vice Chancellor), Hon. Dr. Tevita Hala Palefau (Minister of Education) Dr. Malakai Koloamatangi (UC Political Scientist and EcoCARE Pacific Trust).
The Minister offered the use of 3 islands in each of the three main groups to the University of Canterbury and EcoCARE Pacific Trust as research facilities.
3:30pm The Minister met with some members of staff from the lunch who wanted clarification regarding specific issues raised.
4th Dec. 2007
Hon. Dr. Tevita Hala Palefau (Minister of Education), Councillor Ngaire Button (Christchurch City Council) Russell Taylor (UC Tonga Project Manager and EcoCARE Pacific Trust).
9:00am Met with Christchurch City Councillorr Ngaire Button regarding developing closer relations between the University of Canterbury and the Christchurch City Council and the Kingdom of Tonga.
10:30am Met with researchers of groups from the School of Biological Sciences, Forestry Department, SCION, Geography Department and the College ofEngineering to speak to the Minister about potential projects and courses that might be developed that will include students from Tonga.
11:30am Lunch with Prof. Karen Nero (Head of Department of Pacific Studies)
The Minister flew out at 3:15pm after a very successful trip.