Reddy: New Zealand to adopt schools in Vanuabalavu
The New Zealand government is looking at adopting some schools devastated by Tropical Cyclone Winston on the island of Vanuabalavu, Lau. This was confirmed by the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy, after the launch of ‘Adopt-a-School’ website at Suvavou House in Suva on Saturday. “Australia has already adopted 26 schools; the New Zealand government has volunteered to adopt around five to six schools in the Lau Group,” he said. “They are expected to conduct an observation soon where a report will be submitted on the damage assessment. Like with other Governments coming with this data; more are expected to come forward and assist us with the reconstruction of schools devastated by the cyclone.” New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Mark Ramsden also confirmed that they were looking at adopting a few schools in Vanuabalavu.
“I believe there are 13 schools in the group but first we will need to conduct a damage assessment,” he said. Mr Ramsden said a team of engineers contracted with the New Zealand government and a team from the Fijian Government will travel to Vanuabalavu today to conduct damage assessments on the schools. Meanwhile, Mr Reddy said the reconstruction of Queen Victoria School (QVS) would begin after sponsors review the engineer’s report on the school’s damage assessment. He also said the new schools that would be reconstructed are advised to follow the building codes. “Now who does the enforcement? It is the Local Government; they are the ones who approve a plan so that is where the problem lies,” Mr Reddy said. “No schools or building can be constructed without the approval of the local government authorities and they will have to give a completion letter for occupation they need to make regular visits during the phase of construction,” he said.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Mark Ramsden.