Salvation Army volunteer team takes Kiwi modular housing solution, EasyBuild, to Tonga – builds quality home in just 12 days!
A team of 15 volunteers from The Salvation Army New Zealand recently travelled to Kolovai, Tonga,
to build and complete an EasyBuild home, with the team largely completing the home in just 12 days
Lower Hutt based firefighter Peter Walker led The Salvation Army volunteer team in Tonga and
managed the project. Walker went with a plan to treat each hour on site as a full day’s work given
the large number of skilled volunteers in the team.
Walker is no stranger to EasyBuild’s unique building concept, having built an EasyBuild home in Taita,
Lower Hutt as a DIY project in 2021.
The team who arrived back to New Zealand on Monday 30 October, hail from across the country and
took a range of practical skills to Tonga with them, including builders, an electrician, a plumber, and
labourers. Six of the team are also firefighters.
EasyBuild’s quality modular homes are partially manufactured off-site in their Upper Hutt factory,
and are shipped to site in a shipping container. Built using a unique portal and panel system, once the
portal frame is in place, pre-finished panels with pre-installed windows and insulation are fixed
between the portals, followed by ceiling sheets.
Typically EasyBuild homes are enclosed and protected from the elements within as little as two
weeks on site and completed in just 12-14 weeks on-site. But the Salvation Army volunteer team in
Tonga pushed EasyBuild’s already fast build speed to the absolute max, enclosing the house in just
four days, and reaching practical completion within 12 days on site. An impressive feat indeed!
“It was an ambitious goal to bring together a team of 15 people who'd never all worked together
before to build a house in just two weeks. But it was a goal the team embraced with enthusiasm and
energy and it's amazing to see what we’ve achieved on the EasyBuild home in the planned
timeframe. It was a huge effort from our passionate team,” says volunteer team leader Peter Walker.
The volunteer team in Tonga was supported by the local Kolovai community and other Salvation
Army Church Centres who prepared generous meals for the volunteer team. Everyone is thrilled with
the new home being built and was amazed by how quickly it was built. The new home will be used
by the local Salvation Army officers who work out of the Kolovai Church Centre and Kindergarten.
In addition to building the home, the team took time out of their busy build schedule to visit three
local kindergartens run by The Salvation Army. They installed smoke alarms and donated a range of
kindy toys, sports equipment and garden tools which the kids loved. All of the donations travelled to
Tonga in one of the two 40 foot shipping containers housing the EasyBuild home components.
EasyBuild CEO Scott Matthews said, “EasyBuild is proud to be supporting The Salvation Army with
this project and we have loved seeing what the team achieved in such a short space of time. Their
hard work really shows just what’s possible with our homes, and what we can offer to people and
communities across New Zealand and the Pacific. We’re looking forward to seeing what the team
might achieve next!” With hundreds of homes built across New Zealand, as well as having built in the
Chatham Islands, this was EasyBuild’s first home built in Tonga.
So what’s next for The Salvation Army Volunteer team? A small team will head back to Kolovai to put
the finishing touches on the home before Christmas. And as for building another EasyBuild home for
their communities – watch this space!
About EasyBuild Homes
Available across Aotearoa, EasyBuild’s quality modular homes are a cost-effective, energy efficient,
new home solution, designed, manufactured and built in New Zealand. Manufactured in their Upper
Hutt factory, EasyBuild are focused on getting Kiwis and now our Pacific neighbours into quality new
homes that are designed to stand the test of time, quickly.
About The Salvation Army in Kolovai, Tonga
The Salvation Army has been working in Tonga since 1985 and in 2000 they were invited to extend
their presence to Kolovai. The Tongan Monarchy offered land for the establishment of a
kindergarten, and a church was eventually built on the site by volunteers in 2014. Following the
volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami in Tonga in January 2022, accommodation in the Kolovai
community became scarce and this new home ensures the Salvation Army officers can be present in
the community they are serving. A number of the volunteers who worked in Kolovai in 2014 returned
for this project.