Saturday, 28th June to Tuesday 8th July

Participating schools:
St John’s College and Sacred Heart Girls’ College
Hillcrest, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Participating ensembles/acts included: Barbershop, Ceilidh Group (Irish folk music), Choir, Concert Band, Drum Corps, Guitar Group, Jazz Band, Self accompanying (keyboard) solo vocal – Tara Ferndez-Ritchie, String Chamber Ensemble, Massed Choir – finale, Massed Group Haka – encore

Organising Staff: Glen Parr and Fiona Wolff

Itinerant Teachers of Music: Stewart Stanbridge – concert & jazz band, and music director, Lynn Jamieson – vocal/choral coach for barbershop, choir, massed choir & soloist, Chris Nation – Ceilidh, strings & guitars, Adrian Hayward – drum corps & percussion

Accompanying Adults: Shane Tong (Principal), Michelle Jordan-Tong, Fiona Hermann (health & medical), Gary Dunlop (local surface transport), Mitchell Jordan-Tong, Fiona Disher, Andrea Hall, Martin North, Ellie Parr, Victoria Simeon.

Special thanks to:

PO Box 12260, Chartwell, Hamilton, 3248 New Zealand
Ph (64) 7-855 9499 | Mobile 021 904 209
robynh@edventuretours.co.nz ; www.edventuretours.co.nz

Br Siaosi (Principal St Joseph’s College) and Br Bryan are Samoan based Marist Brothers. They advised us on local matters including identifying schools to visit, locally sourced large music equipment, and gave us introductions to key people of schools we visited.

We wore No.1 uniform on the following occasions:

  • Forward flight to Samoa
  • Apia Mass
  • Five school concerts
  • Savai’i Mass
  • Return flight to NZ

Note: Buying bottled water was a significant aspect of this trip. It was mostly bought in 6 litre bottles. The amount of water bought and consumed was a huge factor in the day to day operation. Water was purchased and stored in an accessible place for our participants’ use. We carried personal water mostly in small sport water non-spill bottles re-filled.

DAY #1: Saturday 28 June 2014

At 11am we reported in No.1 uniform to, and departed from, Sacred Heart Girls’ College (SHGC) by large coach (GoBus) for Auckland International Airport. Our group is 65 members and the bus had only 53 seats. 12 people sacrificed the bus ride and offered to get to AKL Intl Airport by own means. We all met inside AKL Intl Airport departure area at 12:30pm.

We immediately checked in, including one checked in luggage item perperson. We each shared a suitcase with the other person checking in a large item of music equipment

Due to the large group booking of 65 passengers, Air NZ only accepted 50 passengers and departed NZ at 3:40pm. The remaining 15 participants flew Virgin Airlines and departed at 4:30pm under the supervision of Ms Wolff. The Air NZ flight landed in Samoa at 8:35pm with the Virgin flight in at 9:25pm.

Despite it being well into night time, the humidity, heat and lack of breeze hit everyone as we walked across the tarmac to the terminal. A passport was misplaced and lost in the general public area of the busy open-air airport. Mr Parr found the passport and notified Shaun after a brief period of anxiety experienced by Shaun.

Brother Bryan met us at the airport. He drove the St Joseph’s open tray (6.2m x 2.2m) truck. It was good to meet Br Bryan, a friendly voice from phone organisation over the preceding 12 months of planning.

There was only one 25 seat bus waiting for the 65 of us. We were assured by the wife of Winston, bus company owner that another bus and van is on the way. We were transferred from airport to accommodation by two 25 seat buses and a 15 seat van. Our luggage was loaded onto the truck. The trip took more than 30 minutes.

We checked into our accommodation at 11:00pm. Pasefika Inn was central to the city of Samoa and close to the bay. We could and did walk to town and other landmark places such as the fish market. We unloaded the truck into the 1st floor common room, enjoyed a pre-planned supper of bread, spreads and bottled water, and had a brief meeting in the 2nd floor (top floor) dining hall. Ms Wolff allocated rooms and issued keys, then we retired for the night with a fairly early start tomorrow.

We had just completed the room check and settled into beds when we received report of a student very sick. An hour later and mop & bucket featuring, we attempted to retire again, this time successfully.

DAY #2: Sunday 29 June 2014

A few adults arose early and went to the fish markets to source lunch. Pasefika Inn included breakfast and we had to sort lunch & evening meal each day. The morning was warm and fresh but it quickly heated up. The fish market group returned in time to attend Mass at the new Cathedral. We walked 20 minutes in No.1 uniform to the Cathedral and it was hot! We waited a few minutes for the earlier Mass to finish and entered the Cathedral for the English Mass.

Mass was 9:30am to 11am. We were formally acknowledged and welcomed. The Cathedral is amazing/stunning with its intricate ceiling woodwork and the singing was just wonderful. Our choir sang after Mass, to enjoy the acoustics of the Cathedral space and share in its majesty.

We walked back to our accommodation and enjoyed the afternoon including the pool and air-conditioned rooms. Already our No.1s were proving tricky to maintain. Wear once and they were soiled by perspiration.

Lunch sourced earlier in the day from the fish market was good, with Crayfish, tuna, sausages & coleslaw plus bread. After lunch we unpacked and checked all our music equipment in the common room.

We found water in large 6 litre bottles in the store next-door to our accommodation. Until now we had been drinking from small expensive bottles. By tonight it will become apparent that we consume more than 100itres of water each day or just over 1.5 litres each.

That evening we walked 35 minutes, the entire bay to Tanoa Tusitala Resort for evening meal. It was a very good buffet set aside just for us with quality and quantity excellent. Drinks were not included at all, so Gary Dunlop drove the van to get 40 litres of water from the closest shop. It was not quite enough and some drinks needed to be bought from the resort. Later that evening we walked ‘home’.

It was time to retire but again a number of students were sick and adults juggled beds to ensure close supervision was offered. This is the end of our first full day of water purchases and we drank more than 20 x 6 litre bottles of water.

DAY #3: Monday 30 June 2014

Everyone up at 6:30am for 7:30am breakfast, load & departure for our first school concert. We had the hotel provided breakfast. This was a good example of what we were to be offered at most locally provided breakfasts:   Spaghetti on toast with spreads, papaya, & coconut plus our ladies bought cereal & long-life milk. We bought more 6 litre bottles of water for after breakfast, morning at school & lunch

Each day started warm & fresh reached 350C by mid morning and sustained or get hotter throughout the day.

We arrived at St Joseph’s College at about 8:30amfor the 9am concert and we were introduced to our two ‘roadies’, Pio and his associate who drove a old but massive PA. Stewart Stanbridge drove the truck and Gary Dunlop drove the Avis van. We arrived in 2 buses and quickly found out there was no drum kit, no bass amplifier, no guitar amplifier, and no music stands. Our boys were amazing in sorting out a compromise to get by for this concert. We belatedly set up for performance without the missing necessities. Br Bryan found parts of a drum kit, our percussionists sorted how best to make percussive sounds that a full drum kit can make, groups that do not need music stands had sound checks, guitar group set up without bass amp relying solely on Pio our PA driver to balance the sound. The choir sang-through their repertoire, drum corps walked through their performance, and the Ceilidh/strings play-through without music stands; music on floor. 

Music stands arrived and were set up immediately at 10:15am. It was then realised we left our music stand banners behind in NZ. St Joseph’s College students entered the hall while final touches to concert preparation were going on. They settled with student-led whole-of-school singing while we finished the set-up; it was truly amazing!

School concert #1 of 5 St Joseph’s College finally started at about 10:30am. We performed in the school hall. Walls built with gaps and wide open doorways for aeration. There were also high ceilings. The concert ended 11:15am and we set-down the equipment and stored it in a room off the hall.

Some of us looked through classrooms. Basic facilities including chalk board, small classrooms, no securable windows walls are gapped for permanent ventilation, bare walls to decrease distraction during lessons.

We had lunch in the staff room. Sandwiches made by the ladies, who arrived in time to see part of the concert. There was a whole-of-school Rosary – abbreviated version. St Joseph’s boys sat in shade of outdoor courtyard and staff led. SJC/SHGC watched from staff room balcony. St Joseph’s then put on concert for us in school hall. Whole-of-school singing in seated position while SJC/SHGC sat/stood in front of them. Amazing! Pictured below is the drummer beating the lid of a wheelie bin.

We changed into mufti/swimwear for afternoon activity. Used school change rooms We went to nearby Sliding Rocks; 10 minutes away. Br Bryan highly recommended this activity to follow our visit to St Joseph’s College. Ms Wolff negotiated the group fee to $250WST (local currency: tala). It was a long walk down about 200 steep steps to the water. Level was quite low, and quite difficult to slide safely; about 2 to3 paddling pools and 4 to 5 waterfalls. Reef shoes were a necessity. A student was injured at Sliding Rocks. It was a head wound with substantial loss of blood, plus a quick recovery. Principal carried student up the falls to safety. First Aid administered by Fiona’s Hermann and Wolff. Mr Parr (& Ellie Parr) & Adrian Hayward (drum tutor) went into Apia & bought a drum kit for remainder of tour.

Ladies prepared & served evening meal: Mince & veggies with rice, cheese & coleslaw. Ice-cream (12L) & fruit salad. Yummy!

Day #4: Tuesday 01 July  2014

Work party drove away in/on truck 7:30am to St Joseph’s to load equipment and take to Church College, Pasega (pronounced, “Pasenga”). 2 x buses took the remainder of us to Church College and we set up for performance. Ladies stayed back to source & organise lunch; Gary Dunlop drove the van for them. We arrived at school and received a formal welcome by the Principal. We set-up for the concert with school watching us sitting in place. It forced a very fast set-up of 30 minutes, normally an hour.

School concert #2 of 5 Pesega (Church College, LDS Morman School) 9am. We performed in the new school gymnasium. All walls were ‘open’ with only pillars between floor and roof. We used the Church College PA with three wireless microphones on raised stands, stage front. The school was well resourced, maintained and modern. End concert at 10:30am. The school responded by performing straight back at us. Then there was a lively meet & greet exchange in school hall … we were mobbed by local students.

Eventually, we set down equipment & loaded the truck. On our return to Pasefika Inn, we unloaded the truck with equipment stored in accommodation community TV room. The second bus for the pick up of remaining participants was delayed, and some students and adults were left in the sun for nearly an hour. Lunch was chicken & coleslaw sandwiches made by the ladies.

The afternoon activity was a visit to Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, a short ride away in the surrounding hillside. The museum tour lasted about an hour and Ms Wolff negotiated the group cost. There were only a couple of original items in the house, although a lot of lovely antique furniture.  There was a free walk that could be done to the grave of RLS. It was a short walk but up a steep hill. We went through the house in two large groups. The tour guide sings a beautiful song to end tour.  It was a very emotional climax to our visit.

Back on the buses to ‘home’. Some students got off their bus in the middle of Apia to walk home via shops. Glen & Ellie Parr bought 2 x microphone stands for performances. Most stayed close to Pasefika Inn, preferring to use shops next door & accommodation swimming pool.

Some students were displaying signs of mild heat stroke with headaches and other signs of dehydration. Students hydrated & rested in air conditioned rooms. Adults were present throughout this period.

Joseph Nanai (St John’s College boy, Samoan) was collected by his family to spend time at his Samoa family home. He returned to accommodation before lights out.

Pasefika Inn catered for the evening meal at an extra cost of $20WST per person. We had our end-of-day group meeting at 8pm in the dining room. 10pm was lights out

Day #5: Wednesday 02 July 2014

An early 7am breakfast at hotel (included in accommodation) eggs, toast, spreads, coconut, papaya & banana plus more cereal & long-life milk. Also tried plantains (like bananas). We loaded the truck at accommodation & truck work party departed immediately for our next school concert.

The remainder of us depart on buses to St Marys College and set up for performance. Ladies stayed back to organise lunch; Gary Dunlop drive van. Chicken, egg & coleslaw sandwiches

School concert #3 of 5 St Mary’s (Girls’) College 9:30am to 11am. We then had presentations and St Mary’s College responded – all girls … Wow! Solo & small groups, singing & dancing. It was a mix of Samoan cultural & modern. After their performance, we did a meet & greet exchange between students of both schools.

St Mary’s College brought out pies & bottled water for us to close the exchange. Buses were late and eventually we load the truck and depart for accommodation in buses. We shuttle back to accommodation in only one bus initially. The 2nd bus arrived as the first bus departed with second load … too late!

Lunch was at the accommodation, which the ladies organised. It was at 12:30pm with Chicken, egg & coleslaw sandwiches. After lunch we unloaded the truck; equipment stored in accommodation community TV room.

The afternoon activity was swim in the Puila Cave Pools. A student fell ill and an adult remained behind to supervise. The cave pools were about a 30minute drive south of Apia. Ms Wolff negotiated the large group fee; being  $230WST. The pools were located on a Methodist training college.  Changing facilities and toilets were located at the pools.  Reef shoes were useful.  There were many fish in the water.  The students got into one pool, and entered under the cliff where there was a short under rock passage through to the other pool.

Mr Parr & Ellie stayed back in Apia to finalise ferry booking in Samoa Shipping Co HQ near accommodation. They bought return passage for 65 pax $12WST pp each way ($1,560WST), one truck & driver @ $100WST each way ($200WST) & one pick-up & driver @ $95WST each way ($190WST). Total cost of return ferry crossing is $1,950WST. They also bought small tools for band equipment while in central Apia. On walking return to accommodation, they booked the evening meal – 20 pizzas from local pizzeria.

Buses returned to accommodation from cave pools at about 5:30pm evening meal was 6:30pm with free time until then. Joseph Nanai was collected by his family to spend time at his Samoa home and he returned to accommodation before lights out.

Tyrell Tamaki, Ellie & Mr Parr collected 20 extra-large pizzas by taxi; 700m return trip cab fare of $10WST. Pizza cost $38WST each. There were 65 eating and there was plenty of pizza remaining!

Due to the early start tomorrow (5am) the ladies made sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch and placed in room fridges. Everyone packed their suitcases to prepare for early start and lights out was early at 9:30pm Lots more water bought for tomorrow’s long day of travelling.                             

DAY #6: Thursday 03 July 2014

5am up and loading truck. 5:30am breakfast (toast & spreads, cereal, papaya & banana) and 6am on the road to the ferry terminal.    It was about an hour trip to the ferry terminal and we had to get straight into line and wait for instructions to board. Most of us went to the covered open-air roof deck of the ferry.   

8.00am passenger & light vehicle ferry departs for Saleleloga on Savai’i Island. The truck was loaded with music equipment & some/most personal luggage heavy (suitcases).  What could not be loaded onto the truck had to be carried by hand from bus onto the ferry. Carried suitcases were placed through the gate while passengers waited in the terminal.  When the line started moving, all of the locals pushed from the side to beat us into the two races. The suitcases were collected by passengers on way to boarding. There was plenty of room on the ferry, the top floor was nice and where most of us sat.  Bags were locked below in a hold. The ferry journey across the straight was smooth and without event. The return journey was a feature in contrast.

At 9.15am we were met at the ferry by two Tanu Beach buses, and a large green Don Bosco school air-conditioned coach and departed for our next school concert. It was stifling hot and the school was already in position waiting for our performance. We were to set up under a huge permanent fale while the students were sitting on the field under a large open tent. Don Bosco greeted us with bottled water and orange juice, apples, oranges & apple turnovers plus small pies. We unloaded the truck and set-up for the concert.

School concert #4 of 5 Don Bosco School started at 10:30am and went for a little over an hour.

We performed under the school fale in the middle of their field. The fale is new because the school is only a few years old with a growing student population. One of our adults became light headed and sick (stomach pain). Urgent rehydration & rest in shade resulted in a quick recovery.

It was a stinking hot bright sunny day, being oppressive with no respite. Their school responded. It was an utterly dedicated and disciplined performance in the sun on a 380C day. We stood & sat in the shade of the large school fale where we performed, facing north while the students moved into the sun and gave a most amazing award-winning performance of Samoan song, dance and movement. Despite us being in the relative comfort of shade, a number of our members verged on heat related health issues.

The school gave us a lunch box each with curried chicken, rice, coleslaw & chicken drum stick, and whole coconut with straw (drink). Ladies made sandwiches previous night for lunch today but they remained in the cooler bags and we did not eat them at this stage. After the boxed lunch, we did a meet & greet with their senior students only. Their juniors sat in the shade of the classroom eves until we departed. Eventually we set down equipment, loaded the truck and departed for Afu Aau Waterfall to have a fresh water swim.

It was a short 15 minute drive from Don Bosco High School. This was our afternoon activity. Mr Parr paid the chiefs the $5WSTpp fee for swimming on their land. There was no changing facility so the boys went behind the parked bus and removed their No.1s and got into swimwear. When they had all gone, the girls did similar but with some mums standing guard at either end of the bus. The pools had a number of fabulous water jumping spots and were refreshing with large waterfalls cascading down into the rocks.  Some level of concern regarding student safety, so teachers were all on careful student watch. It was a beautiful spot. A student vomited on the side of the track on the way back to the bus, treated by Fiona Hermann with water and anti bacterial gel on hands.

We were back on the buses at 3:30pm and headed for our new accommodation, Tanu Beach fales resort; travelling along a coast devastated nearly a century ago by cyclones and volcanoes. The Sandwiches made the previous night for today’s lunch were handed out for afternoon tea.                                                                     

We arrive at accommodation at about 5pm: Tanu Beach Fales in the village of Manase. Our accommodation included breakfast and evening meal. Ms Wolff assigned fales to everyone. It was a similar allocation to the rooms at Pasefika Inn. There were some double/twin fales, triple, quad, six berth and seven berth fales. We immediately asked Tanu Beach Fales to provide in-house lunches. Options: $10WST pp for sandwiches or BBQ. We decided BBQ; chicken, sausage, lamb rib, coleslaw, rice & sauce. (KFS & napkin were inside the polystyrene box). We also asked Vaea of Tanu Beach Fales to buy us 300 litres of water in large bottles to minimise water cost.

That afternoon a student tripped at the fales while changing in the toilet cubicle of the ablution block. It was quite a serious twist/strain. Initially, Fiona Hermann saw to the injury and secured it as best possible. Vicki Dunlop had flown over to surprise son Nathan and she is a physio. Mrs Dunlop re-strapped the student’s knee. Later that day, another student showed signs of allergic reaction (rash & lumps on right forearm & hand) to bites or pollen from lei (ula) presented to her at Don Bosco. The injury worsened as the trip progressed. It turned out to be sea lice bites but in the meantime, there had been a flurry of effort in trying to diagnose and decide what action to take.

We enjoyed our first meal at our new accommodation; the evening meal. We sat on a long single continuous bench set in a horse-shoe square in an open air dining fale only a few metres from ocean waves lapping the resort. The food was brought to table; bread fruit, rice, battered fish, single sausage, taro leaves in coconut milk. Our end of day meeting was 8pm and lights out was at 10:00pm. At 11pm Ms Wolff, Chris Nation and Adrian Hayward did rounds to check all is well.  Many students had dropped/closed all of their walls/blinds and were overheating.  Over an hour spent on lifting fale blinds.  Grown ups finally all in bed and then.... a student fainted in own fale – Fiona Hermann attended her.


DAY #7: Friday 04 July 2014

There was no hot water on this resort and showers had no rose. We stood under a hose-end and let cold water rush over us. 7.30am saw us having breakfast by the beach. It was again brought to the table, boiled egg, buttered toast, papaya, pancake, avocado, banana, wedge of orange, piece of coconut, tea & coffee.

All our transport on Savai’i was provided by Tanu Beach fales. We mostly got around in wooden buses. That is, wooden seats & floors/walls with no glass in windows. When it rained, Perspex squares were lifted to keep most water out of bus. We departed for our last school concert at 8:30am and arrived five minutes later at neighbouring village to Manase, Sofatu. we set up and prepared to play.

School concert #5 of 5 Safotu Sacred Heart Primary School 9:15am to 10:30am. We performed in the large school fale. Student population is 160. Primary schools are on holiday. 40 of the most local Sacred Heart Primary School students returned to school in best uniform to see us in action.

Two students stayed home from the concert with light nausea and diarrhoea – with Fiona Hermann and Fiona Disher. During concert, another student walked off-stand indicating to Ellie Parr of being unable to continue due to fatigue or exhaustion. Had pushed self as far as possible. Student rested and drank water for quick recovery.                         

The school responded. Initially, the cutest girl in world (6y.o.) did cultural dance, Siva; sigh …. Several adults (parents) wanted to take her home with us. Fathers & sons did a spear dance. Judyanna, head girl, who also lives at Tanu Beach fales, and is granddaughter of the Manase Village high chief, starred as cultural dancer, with Samoan singing and dancing. The school gave us whole coconuts with straw (drink) while we watched their performance. We did a meet & greet with primary students & adults (staff & parents). We set down equipment, loaded truck & returned to Tanu Beach Fales in the two wooden buses.

When we arrived back at Tanu Beach, 300 litres of water had been collected by Vaea. We paid for entire load; $266WST – the cheapest water bought on the trip (less than one dollar per litre). It is stored in the Resort shop and we collect as required. The two locals who helped with sound gear and drove it in their own Mazda Pick-up (ute) wanted to return to Apia immediately rather than wait until we return on Monday morning. Vaea (boss at Tanu Beach) organised their ferry tickets change of date and they departed without fanfare.

Lunch at Tanu Beach was served across the road at the ‘restaurant’. Half of us were in under cover while half ate in the sun. Needless to say, sunburn was a high risk. Lunch was BBQ; chicken, sausage, lamb rib, coleslaw, rice & sauce. (Fork & napkin).

We had the afternoon off for personal R&R. most wanted to swim in the ocean while some expressed interest in exploring the neighbourhood. We had a serious briefing about personal care with particular mention of Sun burn care, Swimming with adults supervision, Aqua/coral shoes to be worn on reef, Leaving Fale resort to local gas station – has larger variety of products than fale resort. The adults were on patrol at all times. Reminders were issued frequently.

7pm saw evening meal at Tanu and was brought to the table; bread fruit, rice, sausage, taro leaves in coconut milk. Sunburn victims noticed and treated with Aloe Vera after-sun gel (miracle gel) by Mrs Ellie Parr’s modest personal supply. Students had various degrees of sunburn despite warnings and adult supervision. Some did not apply sunscreen properly (rubbed on wet skin) and others returned to water straight after receiving after-sun treatment. By the next morning, nearly all burn sufferers had lost their glow & heat emanating from skin (redness), and they had turned a cooling bronze colour.

A number of unnecessary coral cuts to feet and even hands due to lack of coral shoes & horseplay over reef. All injuries treated as best possible with resources available.

  We were invited to perform our concert to Tanu Beach fales. The resort is a family business with staff being largely family members. We had packed much of the equipment onto the truck, so could not use concert band, strings, Ceilidh or jazz band.

8pm was the start of our intimate concert to Tanu Beach Fales, Mr Tanu high chief, and house guests (45 x Taitimu members family reunion from Australia & NZ). Opening item of concert was Judy (local Tanu family niece) singing with cousin Judyanna (Sacred Heart Head Girl) on guitar. Lynn Jamieson ran the concert. Music reading ensembles did not play. MC was Mr Parr with intermittent wireless microphone. Items included: drum corps, guitars, choir, barbershop, massed choir & haka. Taitimu family responded with two items. Tanu Beach family will perform tomorrow evening – their performance is called a “fia fia”. 9:15pm end concert.

pictures: drum corps, guitar group & choir

10:30pm lights out

DAY #8: Saturday 05 July 2014

7.30am Breakfast by the beach; brought to the table, buttered toast, papaya, bacon, avocado, banana, wedge of orange, banana dumplings, tea & coffee; also Samoan Coconut rice (tastes like chocolate rice; yummy).

Today’s activity was morning visit to Saleaula Lava Fields and Satoalepai Turtles. We split into two groups because 65 was too large for the activities. Ms Wolff’s group went to the lava fields first. They walked on the acres of smooth looking lava flows, visited half buried church and village and then visited Satoalepai swimming with Turtles to swim with the turtles!!!! The other group did the activities in reverse. We departed Tanu Beach in 2 x buses: one bus of mostly juniors & the other of seniors. It was a 10 minute bus ride from Tanu Beach. The turtles swim cost $350WST and Lava fields $200WST. The students absolutely loved the turtles.  ABSOLUTELY LOVED swimming in a volcanic rock fresh water pond filled with turtle poo.  Many photos to be had.  The pond had about 15 turtles, they were quite easy to catch and were happy to be held by the shell.

The lava fields were not so exciting but very interesting. The lava flow was very hot and the story behind the lava flow suggested that it took 6years to flow over the village.  And the villagers escaped by putting coconuts under their arms…

By 12:30pm we had returned to Tanu Beach and enjoyed lunch over at the ‘restaurant’; BBQ; chicken, sausage, lamb rib, coleslaw, rice & sauce. (KFS & napkin). The main road divided the resort into two sections; beachside and not by the beach. The restaurant was the opposite side of the road and away from the ocean. There was more R&R that afternoon to snorkel, swim or maybe a game of volleyball with the locals. A group of 18 adults and students bussed to the market in Saleleloga.  This cost individuals $15WST each.  They left at 1:30pm and arrived at the markets at about 2:45pm, after all had used the local money machine to withdraw cash. There were only two stalls left open in the market, which closed at 3pm. We then went to the largest supermarket on Savai’i for our final shopping spree. The 65 minute ride home was long and hard in the wooden bus.

7pm was evening meal at Tanu Beach. It was again brought to table; bread fruit, rice, battered fish, curried sausage, taro leaves in coconut milk, pumpkin. After the meal, the Tanu Beach fales family put on a cultural extravaganza with all members contributing to the performance.

It is called a fia fia.

It was lights out at 11pm


DAY #9: Sunday 06 July 2014

7.30am was breakfast by the beach, brought to the table; buttered toast, cheese toast, papaya, avocado, banana, wedge of orange, piece of coconut, tea & coffee.


We departed for 9am Mass at 8:45am on the wooden buses. A student was feeling ill & stayed behind. Adrian Hayward remained as supervising adult. Mass was given in Samoan. Amazing singing throughout. Our school group was welcomed in English by the priest. We sat to the front of the cathedral. During the service there was a huge tropical-rain type of downpour.


12:30pm we had lunch at Tanu Beach, brought to the beachside resort rather than the ‘restaurant’ side. It was BBQ; chicken, sausage, lamb rib, coleslaw, rice & sauce. (KFS & napkin)


Afternoon R&R. When rain stopped and sun came, weather was very hot & sticky. Guitar group & drum corps bubbled wrapped equipment. Choir loaded onto truck. Most enjoyed last period of R&R on beach & in sea. A student was reported sick by Dom Flanagan. Fiona Hermann jumped into action looking for fix-it measures.


7pm was evening meal and was brought to the table as always.


After dinner we had the RAP UP OF THE TRIP from 8pm. This included four elements: talent quest, circle of thanks, reflection and final end-of-day briefing of the trip.

The talent quest was organised by Lynn Jamieson and each fale put on an act. It was performed where the concerts on the previous two nights were held.


Then there was the circle of thanks. It was a very low key liturgy in the resort’s large fale. It was a candle/give thanks ceremony where each of the 65 participants gave thanks aloud one at a time to the group, about one thing for which they would like to give thanks. There were some lovely moments of thanks offered with some very personal moments being shared.



Then we had a Reflection by open to all on trip. This was voluntary and participants were asked to make observations of the trip that they believe stand out and are a memorable part of the trip. Because this was voluntrary and did not have the same high emotion of the circle of thanks, it was more ‘matter of fact’ although it was apparent the trip has had a profound influence over participants.


Finally, it was the end-of-day (end of trip) briefing.


Lights out 11pm

Ms Wolff and other staff did fale checks and spent some time rounding students up and returning them to their own fales. It, being the end of an emotional and rewarding trip, was a very exciting time for our charges.


DAY #10: Monday 07 July 2014

In mufti, after breakfast we did a final clean up of the resort and then boarded the buses for a 60 minute bus trip to the ferry terminal. We caught to 10am ferry back to Mulifanua Wharf, Upolu ...1 hour trip. No suitcases to carry; all on truck. Return tickets purchased in Apia therefore no requirement to purchase walk-on or truck tickets. We lined up at departure gate as soon as we arrived at terminal. The ferry journey was rough. A number of people became sea sick – some rather violently into big green wheelie-bins. One person started and others quickly followed.


Upon arrival to Upolu (main island) at 11.30am we transferred by one bus shuttling us to Aggie Gray’s Lagoon Resort. We were assigned eight rooms to rest, shower and prepare our No.1s for return flight to NZ later that evening. We had toasted sandwich & chips lunch and a two course meal that evening. The group spent most of the afternoon swimming and relaxing by the pool and in our rooms. We arrived for evening meal packed and in uniform.


A group of musicians performing at a wedding reception in an adjoining restaurant in Aggie Gray’s came to our dining area and played to us, especially because we were music students. Lynn Jamieson then got our choir together and we sang back to them, plus our massed choir. The band leader asked us to perform in the foyer on our way out, to the General Manager of the resort. Lynn organised this and had the choir and barbershop sing as were boarded the buses for the final time.


At 7.45pm we reported to the check-in desks of Air NZ and Virgin Airlines.  There are no meals provided on these flight but we all seemed pretty full after the lavish meals served at Aggie Gray’s.  After check-in we moved to the Airport staircase. The boys gave a Haka of appreciation to the adults the Principal joined the boys. The haka stopped the airport forecourt completely even though Ben Stucki did a solo intro & haka with the wall of boys behind. Ben can sure project his voice! Then all boys joined Ben for a fierce and intimidating conclusion ... most passionate of all trip hakas. Thank you to Ben & his boys.


8:pm (ish) we all proceed through immigration/customs to departure lounge. 9.55pm Air New Zealand NZ997 x 50 pax departed and 10.15pm Virgin Airlines VZ92 x 15 passengers departed.


DAY #11: Tuesday 08 July 2014

01.05am saw Air New Zealand arrives at Auckland International Airport and 1.35am Virgin arrived. Shortly after 2am the GoBus coach drove AKL Intl Airport to Hamilton with a number of participants making their own way home and other places. The bus arrived at Sacred Heart at about 3:30am. We unloaded the luggage and put the equipment inside SHGC Music Dept foyer.


end of experience!


We enjoyed our visit to a little piece of South Pacific paradise and appreciate the effort of the locals in responding to our presence. To witness Samoan culture from within has been a privilege and an experience that I am certain is now a life-long memory for all of us. The trip most definitely achieved its goals of being rich in learning; educationally, culturally, and in special character of our Catholic schools.


Glen Parr

Head of Music