News Release

New Zealanders Respond to Children’s Needs in Fiji

New Zealanders are responding to a dire need in Fiji for children's educational resources by donating and collecting books to be delivered to rural villages.

An estimated 50,000 educational books have been donated in communities across the lower half of New Zealand's north island over the last few weeks. This week the donations will be brought to a central location where volunteers will sort, pack and prepare the books for shipment.

The books will arrive in Suva, Fiji by the middle of November and then be distributed to communities with the greatest needs.

The effort is spearheaded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in partnership with other organizations and supported by dozens of New Zealand communities.

The initiative comes in the wake of recent promises by New Zealand and Australian governments of more funding to improve children's literacy in the Pacific.

"There are thousands of children in villages throughout Fiji who are hungry for learning resources," according to Elder Taniela Wakolo of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "These educational books – donated by New Zealand children, parents and others – will not only bring smiles to countless children's faces, they will also open their eyes to the beautiful world we live in and some of the opportunities ahead of them."

"I believe that those helping in this effort are doing what Jesus Christ taught us to do – to reach out in love and support to those in need. As a church we are very grateful for the organizations and individuals in both countries who are helping in this worthy cause."

Acting Head of Mission for the Fijian High Commission, Ms Mere Tora, says "the donated books will be greatly appreciated by children of rural schools in Fiji where competing demands on limited financial resources often place other educational needs ahead of reading books. Your generosity will indeed go a long way in creating a love for reading in these children and an awareness of a world outside their own villages."

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and her family donated books from her own home. "It's lovely to see the books are going to a good cause and to many good homes in Fiji," she said. "I hope the recipients get as much pleasure from reading them as I did – and my children."

Member of Parliament for Rongotai and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Annette King, added: "When you become a grandmother and you have time to spend reading to your grandchildren, you realize how important books are to the young developing mind. Giving children in Fiji the chance to enjoy and learn from books is a wonderful contribution to make."

Peter Dunne, Member of Parliament for Ohariu and Leader of the United Future Party recently said of the 'Books for Fiji' effort: "I'm delighted to support this project and help children in a vulnerable situation. This is a practical way to assist in their education and I'd like to congratulate the Church for this initiative."


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