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BANGA ISLAND, Solomon Islands - Pacific Partnership 2013 engineers from the New Zealand Army are working with students at the Tabaka Rural Training Center on Banga Island to remodel a student accommodation building on the campus.
The center trains Solomon Islanders on their choice of agriculture, carpentry, electrician work, and mechanics. The remodeled building will be used to house the training center's staff and students during their training.
"It was pretty much a shell on poles that was about to fall over when we arrived," said New Zealand Army Cpl. Justin Roys, one of the site supervisors. "We've basically given the building back its integrity. We've taken out all the rotten timbers, relined it, reroofed it, added new windows and fixed up the stairs. It's pretty much taking what's left of the old bones and making something entirely new."
The Pacific Partnership team took advantage of the opportunity to trade skills with carpentry students from the training center while remodeling the building.
Wilson Agiri, principal of the training center, said that his carpentry students have learned valuable lessons from the visiting engineers, some about carpentry and some about things much more important.
"The team here passed on so much knowledge and skills about building," said Agiri. "But the most important thing they learned was how much a group of people who've never met can accomplish in a short amount of time with teamwork."
Roys said the passing of skills is important because it provides the people of the Solomon Islands the ability to build and maintain their own infrastructure.
"When we arrived we weren't expecting all of the support from the locals," said Roys. "It's actually turned out to be really good. Some are more skilled than others, but everyone is learning and we definitely wouldn't be nearly as far along in this project as we are without the local support."
Conducted annually since 2006, Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster response-preparedness mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.