I arrived back in New Zealand yesterday for the Easter break, which keeps the 'Atenisi Institute closed for a full week, charged with a series of tasks, including the recruitment of a maths teacher for our second semester (anyone interested?), the preparation of a course on the history, sociology and etiquette of the noble sport of rugby (my Dad, who is still playing the game in his seventies, is giving me tips) and the creation of an electronic database of academic articles about the Pacific, so that students and staff currently stymied by the glacial speed of Tonga's internet connection can enjoy the goodies of publications like the Journal of the Polynesian Society and the Journal of Pacific History.
I wanted to use my sudden and wondrous high-speed net access to post a photo which shows that the eight hundred or so books donated to 'Atenisi by Kiwis have actually arrived in the Friendly Isles. For most of February the crate we'd filled with books, along with 'Opeti Taliai's cool white Toyota and boxes of nappies, sat miserably on the Nuku'alofa waterfront, waiting for the rain to stop falling and puddles to shrink. We were finally able to move the crate to a vacant allotment across the road from 'Opeti's house, and with a help of a few 'Atenisi students the books were unloaded. This photo shows Miko, Ulu, and Salisi hard at work in the midday sun (they got a meal of corned beef drenched in coconut milk and wrapped in taro leaves as recompense for their toil).
The books will be part of a new, relocated 'Atenisi library, but in the meantime they're being put to good use. For instance, I've got one of my Modern Pacific History students reading Ian Cross' The God Boy, as a way of learning about the emotional austerity of postwar Pakeha society.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the 'Atenisi book drive. I'm now trying to complement our physical library with the beginnings of what I hope will become a formidable elctronic archive.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]