Kiwanis International - NZSP Division One (Auckland and Vanuatu)

KI Logo Books for Vanuatu schools

Helping to provide a future for the children of Vanuatu
3 schoolgirls
These three girls were at school in Vanuatu. They were some of the lucky ones in this tiny Pacific island nation. Many do not have any opportunity for education - and even if they do, it usually only covers the primary level.
Kiwanis clubs in New Zealand, led by the Kiwanis Club of Takapuna, have been active for some 10 or more years in helping the children in Vanuatu by sending books to the schools via the Kiwanis Club of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Read one school's elaborate thank you note for an earlier book collection project here.
The Kiwanis Club of Port Vila again sought help in 2002 from Kiwanis clubs in New Zealand and elsewhere to try to give Vanuatu's young students a better start in life in the 21st century.  The Port Vila Club's letter can be read here.  The appeal to other New Zealand Kiwanis Clubs was launched by the Kiwanis Club of Takapuna in early 2002.
And the Result:
On 27 December, 2002, 10 club members from the Takapuna, Papakura and Drury clubs met at at a storage venue in Drury, and sorted and packed all the goodies for dispatch to Vanuatu by container.  Books, sewing machines, school uniforms, computers, garden tools, kitchen utensils etc. for Vanuatu schools and Rural Training centres - plus soft toys and bedlinen for hospitals.  The helpers were keen and willing, - but the quantity was considerable, and the day was hot!  In fact, there were over 650 boxes of varying sizes and once loaded, the 20 foot container weighed some 11.2 tonnes!  A real treasure trove for the recipients, for sure.
boxes ready for loading
The packing of the container took the full day as each box had to be entered on a detailed list - for shipping and customs records.
The container was soon on its way to Port Vila. This meant that shipping costs of NZ$2,257 had to be paid - but thankfully clubs came to the party and assisted with this too.
Thankfully too, although full customs clearance formalities had to be completed in Port Vila, all customs charges were waived!
loading the container
the container waiting
On arrival in Port Vila mid-January, the container was delivered to the grounds of the Vanuatu Institute of Technology, where it remained unopened until the then New Zealand-South Pacific Kiwanis District Governor, Tony Popplewell, went up to Vanuatu for the Port Vila Club's 30th anniversary celebrations. This was seen as an appropriate time for the official handing over to the Port Vila club and the ultimate recipients.
Governor Tony and wife Marcella were taken by Port Vila Club President Margaret Macfarlane [on the right] to the Vanuatu Institute of Technology.  Here they met up with Daniel Lamoureux, Principal of the Institute and Moulin Tabouti, Deputy Principal, and the big red doors of the container were finally opened to reveal all the goodies.  Daniel Lamoureux, in conjunction with the Vanuatu Rural Training Centre Association, later assisted with the sorting and distribution of the items around the islands of Vanuatu.
opening the container
handover of a sewing machine
It was learnt from Port Vila Kiwanis Club that sewing machines are available for purchase in Vanuatu but that the Rural Training Centres could not afford to buy them.  Donations were received from some New Zealand clubs and Governor Tony assisted Port Vila club in selecting and purchasing two machines, which were also presented to Daniel Lamoureux.
In the original appeal for help from the Port Vila Club reference was made to Jacqueline Shem, a pupil in Year 6 at Eton school on Efate, the main island of Vanuatu. Jacqueline, along with 18 other students in Year 6, sat the exam to see whether she could go on to Secondary School.  She and 12 others failed - only 5 passed.  Jacqueline was lucky however as her family could afford for her to repeat the year.  In the meantime, the school, and in particular the Year 6 classroom, received books from an earlier shipment that we had sent to Vanuatu by the New Zealand Kiwanis clubs.  In addition, the Eton Village Community Library was set up [using books sent by both Kiwanis and Rotary].  So having repeated the year Jacqueline and another 14 of the 21 Year 6 class pupils passed the all important exam !
Governor Tony at school

It just shows what a difference having those books for their studies meant to the kids at Eton school.  And it gives you an idea how important a part all the contents of the containers sent from New Zealand play in the lives of the school children of Vanuatu.

It should also be mentioned that Kiwanis clubs in in New Caledonia run a similar project for French speaking schools in Vanuatu.

In an email from the Kiwanis Club of Port Vila, it was explained that 'the encyclopedia sets were wildly successful and greeted with tears of joy.  People in New Zealand can hardly imagine how important these books/donations are to schools who may have a "library" room - with no books.  Vila East school is one of Vanuatu's better equipped schools and remember they only had a couple of shelves of books 30-40 years old! Two truckloads were sent up to them.  Delightful response! Books of primary, upper primary and lower secondary are more appropriate than higher levels.'  A more recent letter from Kiwanis Club of Port Vila President Mark Stafford explaining the distribution of the content of a container sent in early 2012 can be read here.

The Project is On-going:
Since its inception as a project between two clubs, many other Kiwanis clubs have made contributions to the effort and now the entire New Zealand-South Pacific district of Kiwanis has actively committed to carrying on this project for the benefit of school children in Vanuatu. Over 20 shipments of useful school material have been made to Vanuatu so far. The chronical of these shipments can be seen on this page.

Vanuatu Schools Still Need Books and Other Items:

  1. Local New Zealand schools are the best source for library books, readers and journals, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, etc, and they will undoubtedly be making regular culls so will be looking for places to send the books, which may well otherwise just get burnt. Make sure to send them a certificate of appreciation from time to time - this reminds them of the project when they cull next!
  2. In addition to books, secondhand school uniforms are also well received. Schools change their uniforms or their sports uniforms from time to time. No problem if they have names or badges on them. Sports teams in Vanuatu don't mind that nor do pupils in general over there. Not shoes though.
  3. Soft toys are sent from time to time for the health clinics, and jigsaws [complete please] and other education type games too. These too are well received.

Needless to say a reasonable standard is required as there is no point in sending junk up to the schools in Vanautu - nor to pay for shipment of junk. If need be items should be repaired before packing them up.

If you feel you can help with this project, please contact one of the following: Patsy Hill at or Ewan Beck at as soon as you decide to start collecting items in order to inform them that you are helping. They will then be able to let you know how the items should be packed and labelled and where they should be sent prior to dispatch to Vanuatu.

Gardening implements and kitchen utensils are also still very keenly sought after for the school and rural training centre programmes.

As we are sure you are already aware, this project really is making a difference to children in schools in Vanuatu. It is an excellent example of Serving the Children of the World - especially those in part of the New Zealand-South Pacific District of Kiwanis International.

A booklet with photos and a description of the project was produced in 2014.    Read or download the PDF project booklet here. (5.8 MB)

The packing of the container of books and other goods sent to Vanuatu at the end of 2015 and the distribution of the goods in Vanuatu was filmed.  You can watch the video on YouTube here.  Our thanks to the students and teachers of Kristin School in Auckland who filmed and produced the video.



Kiwanis NZSP Division One home page / New Zealand - South Pacific District home page
Page last updated by (David Fentress) on 2 September, 2022.
Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.