Ahead of the last Te Maeva Nui celebrations involving the pa enua in 2015, the NES requested a number of empty and unused diesel drums from Te Aponga Uira for use as rubbish bins to help cope with the extra waste generated by all the extra people on the island.
This year NES made the same request, except TAU have now taken it a step further, bringing at least eight local schools onboard by enlisting their help in painting the drums with environmental messages and images.
Thirty-three 200-litre drums have been cleaned and prepared, with each school receiving at least three drums, 10 one-litre pails of paint in five colours, and a 12-piece set of various-sized paintbrushes.
TAU have also undertaken to pay each school $50 for each completely-painted drum, with the schools also able to keep the paintbrushes and any unused paint they might have left over.
NES senior education officer Matthew Rima said that while NES and TAU had collaborated on this initiative before, this was the first time local schools had been involved.
“It’s because of (TAU human resources manager) Willie Tuivaga’s input into it,” Rima explained.
“He wanted a bit more emphasis on incorporating more of the community, with a focus on giving back to the community and being environmentally friendly and aware, so Willie said, ‘Let’s get the schools involved’.”
Once all the drums are painted, the schools will hand them back to TAU for delivery to NES, who will in turn distribute them around the Avarua hostels and National Auditorium area in preparation for the upcoming Te Maeva Nui celebrations and the preceding influx of extra people from the pa enua.
“The hostel area is a concern for us because we’re kind of wary of the riverway there,” said Rima.
“That’s our biggest concern, so that’s why we want to place the drums closer to that area, because that leads directly to the Avarua wharf and directly into our lagoon. So we wanted to focus on that area especially, which is mainly backing around the auditorium and the hostels.”
Rima added that, upon request, NES representatives will visit each school and talk with the children about what the drums will be used for and the messages painted on them.
“Just to give them a fair idea of what we are trying to promote, which is waste awareness.”