High school students build fourth home for families in housing need

Mar 9, 2016

Thirteen students at Onehunga High School are building a home for a family in housing need, in partnership with housing charity Habitat for Humanity Auckland and The Rotary Club of Onehunga One Tree Hill in a project called Learning 2 Build.

The three-bedroom house, which is being constructed on the grounds of Onehunga High School, is the fourth built by students of the Building and Construction School since 2013.

Onsite Project Manager Ernie Meyer, of The Rotary Club of Onehunga One Tree Hill, says the students are enthusiastic and interested. “Rotary likes giving people a hand up, and working in our community with the community for the community. All Rotary Clubs have the motto ‘Service above self’, and this project has so many benefits for the students, the community, and ultimately the family who will be moving into the house. The students are building the house, not us – and the only way they’ll learn is to do it.”

Habitat for Humanity Auckland Executive Director Conrad LaPointe agrees. “We believe that building a house is as much about the process as it is about the product. The students learn practical skills which will help them to obtain employment after they leave school, and at the same time, another family in housing need is being served.”

The students will build the house during the course of the 2016 school year, spending 12 hours a week onsite learning construction skills. In past years, students who have participated in the build have gone on to apprenticeships and polytechs for further studies, and the teachers have seen some wonderful outcomes in terms
of improved attendance and increased grades for the students.

The Building and Construction teacher’s job has been my most rewarding role in 28 years of teaching,” says David Eastwood of Onehunga High School. “Watching students develop and grow in confidence over the year, then move on to a successful career or future, is rewarding and fulfilling. Some of the students who start in the Building and Construction School have less than impressive records at school, but this project gives them a new chance. The students become emotionally connected to the house build, and often see it as a life-changing experience.”

The house will be built to closed-in stage, then uplifted and transported to its “home site” for completion. Habitat’s programmes are “a hand up, not a hand out”, and the partner family who are selected for this house will complete 500 hours of “sweat equity” volunteering, as well as repay Habitat for the home over time, with support, and at an affordable rate.

For further information about Learning 2 Build, please contact Katherine Granich, Communications Manager, Habitat for Humanity Auckland, on 09 271 3357 or email [email protected].