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New Zealand

Salvation Army takes fast Kiwi housing solution to Tonga

A team of 15 volunteers from the Salvation Army in New Zealand recently travelled to Kolovai, Tonga, to build and complete an EasyBuild modular home, with the team largely completing the home in just 12 days on-site.

Lower Hutt based firefighter Peter Walker led the Salvation Army volunteer team in Tonga and managed the project. Walker went with a plan to treat each hour on site as a full day’s work given the large number of volunteers in the team.

Walker is no stranger to EasyBuild’s unique building concept, having built an EasyBuild home in Taita, Lower Hutt as a DIY project in 2021.

Peter Walker (left) and a Tongan Ministry of Infrastructure Representative

The team who arrived back to New Zealand on Monday 30 October, hail from across the country and took a range of practical skills with them; builders, an electrician, a plumber, and labourers. Six of the team were also firefighters.

Unique portal and panel building system

EasyBuild’s quality modular homes are partially manufactured off-site in their Upper Hutt factory, and are shipped to the site in a container.

Built using a unique portal and panel system, once the portal frame is in place, pre-finished panels with pre-installed windows and insulation are fixed between the portals, followed by ceiling sheets.

Typically EasyBuild homes are enclosed and protected from the elements within as little as two weeks on-site and completed there in just 12-14 weeks.

But the Salvation Army volunteer team in Tonga pushed EasyBuild’s already fast build speed to the absolute max, enclosing the house in just four days, and reaching practical completion within 12 days on site. An impressive feat indeed!

Volunteer team leader Peter Walker says,

It was an ambitious goal to bring together a team of 15 people who’d never all worked together before to build a house in just two weeks.


“But it was a goal the team embraced with enthusiasm and energy and it’s amazing to see what we’ve achieved on the EasyBuild home in the planned timeframe. It was a huge effort from our passionate team.”

EasyBuild home enclosed after four days on site

The volunteer team in Tonga was supported by the local Kolovai community and other Salvation Army Church Centres who prepared generous meals for the volunteer team.

Everyone is thrilled with the new home being built and was amazed by how quickly it was built.  The new home will be used by the local Salvation Army officers who work out of the Kolovai Church Centre and Kindergarten.

Following the volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami in Tonga in January 2022, accommodation in the Kolovai community became scarce and this new home ensures the Salvation Army officers can live in the community they are serving.

A small team will head back to Kolovai to put the finishing touches on the home before Christmas.

Visit to local kindergartens

In addition to building the home, the team took time out of their busy build schedule to visit three local kindergartens run by the Salvation Army. They installed smoke alarms and donated a range of toys, sports equipment and garden tools which the kids loved.

All of the donations travelled to Tonga in one of the two 40-foot (12 metre) shipping containers housing the EasyBuild home components.

EasyBuild CEO Scott Matthews said, “EasyBuild is proud to be supporting the Salvation Army with this project and we have loved seeing what the team achieved in such a short space of time.

“Their hard work really shows just what’s possible with our homes, and what we can offer to people and communities across New Zealand and the Pacific. We’re looking forward to seeing what the team might achieve next.”

The EasyBuild home on the final night before heading home

With hundreds of homes built across New Zealand, as well as having built in the Chatham Islands, this was EasyBuild’s first home built in Tonga.

They have more than 100 currently scheduled across a variety of residential, community and social housing projects in the coming year.

The fast build time of EasyBuild homes means clients can move into their new homes sooner, while saving money throughout the build process on rent and finance costs.

Their homes are ultra warm and energy-efficient, and their unique modular construction method reduces build waste by two thirds.

All of their home designs have MBIE MultiProof approval, which cuts consenting time with local councils in half.

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For more information:

The Salvation Army

EasyBuild homes

https://dailyencourager.co.nz/salvation-army-takes-fast-housing-solution-to-tonga/ Salvation Army takes fast Kiwi housing solution to Tonga

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