15/08/2019 4:00:00 p.m.
15 August 2019
It was all about getting stuck in and giving back to the community at Sunset Primary School this morning.
A team of about 50 PlaceMakers staff members from all around the North Island took part in a working bee at the school, replacing benches, installing vegetable gardens and fixing downpipes.
Rotorua has been playing host to PlaceMakers staff from across New Zealand for the past three days as staff were here for an annual conference. As part of this, Rotorua PlaceMakers’ account manager Chris Newson was tasked with arranging a community-based activity for staff to do once the conference wrapped up.
Chris was aware of work happening in the Fordlands community as part of Rotorua Lakes Council’s Reinvigoration Project but when timing didn’t work out for staff to help there, it was suggested the team could use their skills at Sunset Primary School.
Sunset Primary School has partnered with Rotorua Lakes Council as part of the Child Equity Programme, which aims to provide children with equitable access to services and opportunities that will make a potentially life-changing difference into adulthood.
About 50 staff volunteered to take part in the working bee, which saw PlaceMakers donate all the materials as well as staff time.
Chris says the staff participation was great and they were all really eager to get stuck in to improve the facilities at the school.
“It’s just really awesome to be a part of,” he says.
“We came out to the school a number of times to check out the place and see what needed to be done and we just knew we would be able to make a difference.”
In addition to building materials and manual labour PlaceMakers also provided the school with new sports equipment including rugby balls, basketballs and hockey sticks.
“Just seeing the look on the kids’ faces was great. You know they really appreciate it.”
Sunset Primary School principal Eden Chapman says the working bee had been on the cards for several months and PlaceMakers had done lots of planning to ensure the day was a success.
He says if the school had someone undertake the work themselves it would have taken a year to complete.
“A lot of the stuff, we had identified as needing fixing, but we just didn’t have the tools or skills needed to get it done,” he says.
“We are really grateful for PlaceMakers to come in and bring their expertise, knowledge, tools and materials. For something like this to happen, you just can’t put a price tag on it. It really is invaluable.”
The Child Equity Programme and the Fordlands Reinvigoration Project are both on-going collaborations between Rotorua Lakes Council and the Fordlands community.