Projects Completed 2011-2012

I am sitting in my hut at Palm Project contemplating the completion of our project, the Uluveu RO Desalination Plant, local name Uluveu Nuwai Pavilion.

All volunteers have left now and I am just finishing off before I also return to New Zealand. It is all and more than we expected, firstly the building to house the RO Desalination Plant was built by Martin Peet of Australia and 10 local men from Uluveu island. This group of builders have worked with NZCHET for five years now, they are graduates of the Uluveu RTC (Rural Training College).

The building is a two roomed structure, on one side we have three showers and four wash basins and in the other side all the equipment for making water. The water maker was designed by Terry Forsbrey of Open Ocean NZ also included in the equipment are twelve Raylite batteries plus the component boxes. The system has been designed by Jason Whaanga. All plumbing has been installed by local plumber Kalo and Carson Finnemore of Allstar Plumbing NZ, not only did they plumb up the Water Pavilion but they also installed twelve 6000 litre tanks throughout the three villages so that water catchment could be maximised.

Here on the island of Uluveu, being able to collect maximum rain water means that dehydration; which is a health problem here, will be overcome. A long time before the building of the Uluveu Nuwai Pavilion was started, James Brodie NZ Architect and volunteer for NZCHET, spent many hours with our trustees and designers making sure the design was just right. The actual building has been a huge success and has been perfect for the needs of the community and equipment.

Nat & Samir Allen and Elliot Stead all contributed this year with their time and expertise. Elliot stayed at Uluveu for two months and worked tirelessly assisting me with the project and the running of Ranui. Ranui was home to Martin, Sally,Kay, Elliot and myself for nearly three months and in that time we had many visitors from the community and the occasional party with the young people. Ranui has many facilities that assist the project and we are lucky to have her assistance.

The most exciting day came; once the equipment was installed and we were able to start the desalination system and make water. The thirty solar panels are able to give us so much power that when the water maker is on and the sun is out the batteries are not depleted at all, in fact there is more power going in than coming out! This will ensure the batteries have a long life. Any excess power can be used by the school for other things such as their computers and overhead projectors, also the children will be able to watch educational CD ROMS and off course the occasional DVD!

Many local people from Uluveo and the surrounding islands have come to see the plant in action. This is the first time that showers have been available on the island. It is also the first time that women can come and do their washing without having to cart water from the bore wells which are contaminated. Last night the students from Sangalai School; where the plant is located, were able to take showers. Palm Project has and will continue to donate coconut soap with added tea tree to eliminate scabies and skin infections. It is hoped that the health status of the villages will improve with the increased safe drinking and washing water.

The most common question that was asked of us when we were designing a programme that would overcome the drought problems for this island was,

“with this kind of advanced equipment who will operate it, the Ni-Vanuatu people will not have the knowledge”. To this question I answered “rubbish” actually what I did say was much ruder! but I am not able to repeat this here. Bumseng Tangou, headmaster of Sangalai School Uluveu Island and his wife Leiwia Tangou are now the managers of the water plant and they turn the water maker on every morning and off in the late afternoon, they check they batteries and sometimes if it is a hot day and the sun is out they decide to leave the machine making water all day. They are operating the machinery without any assistance from me and I have handed the reins over to them completely.

In January 2013 Jason and I will come back to the island. Jason will reprogramme the computer component of the water maker and download the information stored on the SD Card located in the computer component of the machine. Then he will be able to analyse the data stored on the SD Card and this will help to reprogramme the machine. The chiefs and villages would like to have an official opening at this time.


NZCHET also operated a health programme this year with the return of Sally Peet RN and Kay Adams. Many patients were seen and they operated this year from the government assisted clinic where they helped the local nurse Bambi. She was pleased to have the extra training and assistance. They travelled to all the villages in the area as they always do and were pleased to see an improvement in the health status. Sally kept a watchful eye on all areas of the project and kept us all in line especially health wise. Sally retired this years but I am sure she will miss it so much she will have to return at least once more! Martin was an incredible building manager and all the boys cried when he left they said he had taught them with patience and calm.

Palm Project Soap Factory is also doing well and buying many litres of oil from the local women. Palm Project Soap Factory has increased the price of oil this year to 200vt per litre. Palm Project has also been able to make their creamy body lotion with the introduction of a new organic chemical GEO 22 because the body lotion has coconut cream in it we had to find a suitable organic chemical to ensure it stayed fresh. I enlisted the help of local NZ company Go Native and now this has been achieved and we are thrilled to be able to add this to the list of product now available. The soap has improved dramatically and we have shipped some of our chemical free soap to New Zealand for marketing. Palm Project supply the National Museum of Vanuatu and the Cultural Centre. We are continuing to sell our product to ACTIV Association; who have just opened their new Tourist Center in Port Vila and will be carrying our products once again to New Caledonia soon for the festival of pacific products.

The Uluveu Builders & Carvers Workshop has been renovated by Martin Peet and all the new tools have been installed at the Workshop. NZCHET are hoping to continue with furniture making workshops now the water problem has been solved. It has been suggested by the locals that we start to use their local timbers for the furniture and find markets for them in Port Vila and the Pacific. The whole island is supporting the Workshop now as they also want their young men to pursue an economic enterprise. These same builders have now built all four Palm Project buildings and their standard of building has improved over the years. There are many furniture makers in NZ that would like to come and give workshops and discuss furniture making and cabinetry.

Richard and I would like to thank all those who have supported us over the years and especially this year. We would like to thank the people of Uluveu who initiated and supported this project from the begining. The islands Chiefs who had meetings with us and made the project possible. The project this year was long and difficult but with the support of the Australian and New Zealand experts it has been achieved and we are most greatful for the help and assistance. The RO design team of Jason, James, Terry, Carson, and Martin made our dream come true in the best possible way and sticking with this project from begining to end, thankyou. The outcome has exceed all our expectations and we are assured now that the island of Uluveu will not only be protected from the drought season but will have clean safe drinking water all year round.

In an exciting final meeting held at Palm Project Soap Factory a group of the smart Uluveu business people were assembled and appointed to operate the three Palm Project enterprises. We are pleased and excited by the scale of ownership that has taken place this year. The three enterprises that are already owned by the Uluveu community will be working towards complete independance from outside assisstance. These three businessess will be lead by the following appointed people.

1. Uluveu Nuwai Pavilion:

Benson Tangou
Leiwia Tangou

2. Uluveu Builders & Carvers Workshop:

John Akurakura

Ennis Simeon
Kalo Daniel

3. Uluveu Soap Factory:

Jenny Ballias
Louisa Turin

Governing Committee:

Penista Ewai President
Meerlin Kalo Secretary
Tros Witchel Manager
Jenny Yonah Board Member
Lesau John Board Member

We thank them all for there imput and enthusiasum we wish them well and offer our assisstance only when asked for.

God Bless the people of Uluveu always.

Liane Farry 

Project Coordinator

NZCHET/Palm Project