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Salvation Army volunteer team takes Kiwi modular housing solution, EasyBuild, to Tonga – builds quality home in just 12 days!

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7 Feb 2024

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
on site.

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 on site.

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.

"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 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, sport 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 UpperHutt factory, EasyBuild are focused on getting Kiwis and now our Pacific neighbours into quality newhomes 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.

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