Kolovai Library Kingdom of Tonga is a place to Explore ( vakai’i ), of understanding ( muaki’ilo ), and to connect ideas ( fakahoko ) .https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/kolovai-community-public-library-2
Kolovai Community Public Library was officially opened in 2019. Our idea to have the first public library in Kolovai came out when we saw that Cyclone Gita damaged 85% of houses and primary schools. When visiting the local Free Wesleyan Primary School next Tonga we saw there were no books for Children to read, the floors were damp, and all of their Scholl desks, furniture were damaged.
Two years ago 2020, Cyclone Harold smashed into Tonga. Huge waves demolished many of the resorts along Hihifo Coast from Kolovai ( Fala ‘o Ata ) to Ha’atafu local families have been hugely affected with the total loss businesses, buildings – homes
This year 14th of January, 2022. A large eruption of underwater Hunga- Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, about 65km north of Nukualofa, shot think and ash and steam 20km skywards.The eruption caused a tsunami on Tonga’s largest Island, Tongatapu, with waves recorded at 12 meters ( about 4 feet ) near Nukualofa
The worse affected areas are the west coast of the main Island of Tongatapu
Kolovai Community Public Library in Kolovai is the neighbouring to Kanokupolu that was the most affected village on the main Island. Before Christmas we shipped whole lot of shelves ( used but in very good condition near new ) The got picked up from the wharf in Nukualofa three days the eruption hit Tonga.
These shelves and over hundred banana boxes of books donated from SKYTV & Auckland Council Library Branches. They are stored in a near by storage 10-15 minutes drive from the wharf. We were told all the area was Flooded from the Tsunami. The manager of Kolovai Public Library has not been able to check the condition of all the books and shelves in the storage as she had a bad fall the day after the Tsunami. Her house was flooded from the Tsunami. She’s now bed written and having physio treatment. Once she’s recovered from her injury, she should be able to give us how much books & shelves ( over hundreds of them ) damaged.
Kolovai Community Public Library storage in Nuku’alofa was covered with ashes & at this stage we understand the library is still standing but definitely need maintenance & probably most library books, laptops ( donated second hand ) laptops are damaged & all books need to be replaced. The landline has been cut and there is no communication up to now. Internet was installed at the library is not working. It is very hard and congested trying to be connected to Mele via cellphone.
We are establishing a second library to be based in Nukualofa. We have shipped enough books already for it, but as mentioned above most books that are stored at the storage & in Kolovai Library needed replacement.
Ashes was so think covered most places in Nukualofa the capital. They are damp and they will probably get thrown away.
All the support and donations will go towards to pay for Tonga Government clearance customs duties when library books all cleared from customs at the wharf, pick ups, maintenance of Kolovai Public Library and to help with the new library which we hoping to get it built very soon.
Kolovai Library founder Brendan Damien & Kahoa Meimuli Corbett of Mangere Bridge, Auckland. Our idea to start up the community public library was that when the Cyclone Gita damaged 85% of The Kolovai residential homes including couple of Kolovai Primary Schools & Kahoa Parents house in Febuary 2018. We visited Kolovai after the cyclone to check Kahoa family's house. We couldn't believe what we saw. There was no roof and the relief workers from NZ & Australia, helpers from Kolovai community covered the roof with a tarp that has over thousand litres of water just sat on top of the tarp. Brendan was well prepared then. He took his his building tools with him to Tonga, paid for the access luggage as those tools were very heavy and ready to fix the roof when arrived in Tonga May 2018. Brendan emptied the water by himself on a 35 % hot day and this is something that he never experienced before. He teaches Trades at so many High Schools in Auckland including the Manukau Institude of Technology in Otara, Auckland but there was nothing like this that he had ever experienced ever before. He started with one labour to help him ripping off the damaged corucated iron roof. This person had no building skills and luckily Brendan just taught him what todo, so job was a little bit easier but he find the heat got to him and had to kept on changing his shirt in every hour while working in 35% hot temperature. After about 3 days, Kahoa heard about a builder who's very good at roofing so his name was Siaosi. Brendan had to dash over to town on the truck that was lent to them to use for free from one of Kahoa's cousin. He paid for all the corucated iron tobe made locally at Ma'ufanga small industries and the building materials paid by himself out of his own money worth more than TP$5k. Siaosi then arrived and gave Brendan a hand and speed up the work. What happened Kahoas brother Inoke was agreed to go with us to Tonga and Brendan paid for his airfares. Sister talked him not to go so he changed his mind. I was not happy at all and right from the beginning when Brendan said that he will go and fix the roof as long as he has one of the brothers helped him so that didn't work out. He then lost the money that he paid for for my brother's airfares and had to pay for access luggage to take his expensive tools with him to Tonga to fix the family house. He was pretty much fixed everything and that was bloody hard work with no qualified builders around apart from one labour helping him.
He Got the roof fixed and then ribbed up the floor at the back room which was like a trampoline and who ever did the building job used the wrong plywood. Finally the house got a new roof and a new floor. Yay! But there were more things to fix inside the house. Water system was not even connected properly. He then bought whole lot of pipes from the local hardware shop more money spent! and reconnected all the water system and installed a kitchen bench that was left tobe connected for nearly 7years. Got them all done and yay. Got the water system running. When we saw the local Primary School class rooms still wet and all schools materials destroyed. Kahoa approached the Kolovai Town Officer Luisi Fifita and asked her cousin Mele Kamoto whether she would be able to be the new manager of the Kolovai Community Public library and to help picking up all books with my cousin Peni Petelo as the driver picking up all books when arriving from NZ. She accepted the offer. We sent money to pay for every pick ups and that was sent via western union just about every month since May last year to pay for the drivers petrol and some pocket money for Their snacks as well :) as Peni charge TP$100 for every pick up. I knew Mele would be the best & the right person as she is a very well educated person and she graduated from Victoria University in Wellington & She was the head of the Tonga Inland Revenue in Nuku'alofa and currently working for Tonga broadcasting Radio A3Z as one of the senior staff. After spoke with Luisi Fifta The Town officer to see if the local community Hall is not used for anything so that we can set up a Community Public library in it. Anyways Luisi The Town officer liked the idea but it had to be confirmed with the Kolovai committee so they called a meeting and they all agreed to set up the Kolovai Comunity Public Library there. When we returned to NZ after been in Tonga we approached The manager of the cancelation division at Aucklnd Central Library emailed her with their ideas. She then emailed all 57 Auckland branches asking to donate all books that canceld and email Kahoa & Brendan to arrange a time to pick them up for their project. They then started shipping most of the donated nooks with the help of Lion Internationals with Brian Brown's the secretary offered to have all their books with 200 chairs donated from Auckland City Council sent on their container to Tonga which They had a container going to Tonga donating books to 3 different schools. The consignment was signed off by Ministey of Education in Tonga free. Then we still have more books to send with 5 bikes donated from OnZo bike ltd. We sent another lot and that was costly with the Pacific Line but We were happy to pay as We were determine to get this project works plus dealing with customs in Tonga was just a nightmare with waiting around to get all paper works signed off as it was very brotocol they wanted you to pay them aside before released anything from customs which I refused to pay anyone for that. October 2018 Julie VSA volunteer from NZ connected with Kahoa on FB and offered to help out posting an add on Lianza website for a volunteer librarian to help out setting out the library. Wow! Julian Gillions a librarian from Motueka, Nelson in the South Island emailed Kahoa that she was very keen to help us out. Kahoa had already got two of her friends Linda Gilmour and Moana Herewini already offered their availability to go with Kahoa to Tonga to help sorting out all books that have arrived already in Tonga. Brendan was organising his student a Southern Cross College in Mangere to build all shelves for the library as part of their assessment and those shelves arrived in the yellow container that Lion Internations paid for. So I flew flew to Tonga last October befor Linda, Moana and Janine arrived 4 days later to help out. They got stuck into sorting putting all books in the correct categories but didn't know how to assemble those shelves as Brendan couldn't take time off work to go and assemble them. So, I met up with new Peace Corps team that just arrived from United States trained to speak Tongan in Kolovai before they take up their role at different schools in Tongatapu. They were very happy to help out assembling them but the problem was they had no building schools but Sione one of them got the instruction from Brendan on how to put them together and thought they had done a good job but When We returned this year to do the shelving. They found out that they did the whole lot wrongly so Brendan spent a day reassembled all of them. Yay! All assembled correctly. We started shelving and labelling and asked the local Electrician Folau Manu and his team to help out to install all new lights at the library which they were donated from a local Kolovai boy Sam Soane who currently living in Auckland managing the light company. After 14 days working to get the library up and running next July. We returned to NZ for work. One thing that Kahoa was done when arrived back from Tonga last year. He approached CFR line shipping company and they are very happy to help Kahoa & Brendan shipped all books that are sending for their project free of charge. Also she approached Bunnings ware house for some paint and they donated hundred of small containers of paint to them. SKYTV donated 10 laptops, Sommerville Intemediate, Northcote Intemediate donated hundreds Of Schools Journals for Primary Schools and Intermediate Schools and they also donated Hi-Vis Jackets to Kolovai Primary Schools. They really appreciated everyone generosity especially to the Noble of Kolovai Hon. ATA for letting her and her Husband take over the Kolovai Community whare for the Kolovai Community Puclic Libary. We thank you Hon. ATA for YOUR SUPPORT & understanding on how important to have a Community Publicl library based in your Tofi'a not only is a great project for our whanau to take advantage from but its also for all age from young babies to elderlies and for all people from all walks of life not only for The Kolovai Community but for the rest of Tongatapu communities nation wide. And for all our sponsors. Auckland City Council, 57 Auckland Libraries Branches, CFR LINE Owner CEO HERLALD & LAVNIA HERMANS, SKYTV, ONZO BIKES LTD, BUNNINGS, SAM SOANE AND HIS LIGHTING COMPANY, LION INTERNATIONALS, SOMMERVILLE INT, SCHOOL, NORTHCOTE INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL, RICHO TONGA LTD and last but not least to our very good friend Lisa West and Simon. Thank you so much for your big help setting up the website. Couldn't do this without your big help. We can't wait to get this library up and running in July 2019. WHAKAWHETAI MATOU KI A KOUTOU MO TO KOUTOU TAUTOKO. WHAKAWHETAI KOE. MALO 'AUPITO. OKU MA 'OFA LAHI ATU. BRENDAN & KAHOA MEIMULI CORBETT.
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