The mobile classroom belonging to a Kiwi children’s icon is being auctioned off to the public after developing rust, which forced it off the road.
Beloved mammal Harold the Giraffe now has a new West Coast home after his trust, Life Education NZ, arranged for a replacement classroom for him to operate out of.
But the replacement has proven a slight financial headache for its local operation, one of the more isolated programmes in the country.
The Life Education school programme began in the 1980s. Mobile classrooms travel to local schools nationwide to give specialist teaching around curly topics like drugs and anxiety.
The West Coast Life Education caravan, home of Harold the Giraffe, has been put up for sale after developing rust. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi school kids typically remember the classes thanks to the work of Harold the Giraffe, the classroom mascot who helps the teacher present information to students.
There are 32 Life Education trusts across the country, each responsible for its region’s logistics and funding.
The West Coast Trust was founded in 2005 and is one of the most isolated trusts in the country.
Volunteers will help bring the West Coast operation to 36 schools across the district - sometimes driving up to five hours a day to transport the classroom.
Operations manager Suzi Taylor said some regions in better-populated parts of the country might only have to raise $85,000 a year, for example, to keep the programme running each year.
The West Coast Trust needs close to $200,000 annually.
“Sometimes it is harder,” she told the Herald.
The caravan has developed rust and will cost too much to replace, operations manager Suzi Taylor says.
“We’re a wee bit isolated here; that sort of thing is major if our truck breaks down - it’s a big problem for us.”
Earlier this year, it was discovered the West Coast caravan was developing rust and the cost to repair it would be too significant for the operation’s budget.
Taylor said the rust was likely worsened by the coastal location of the van and its lack of movement across the region between jobs at schools.
“If the truck is being driven heaps it helps [against rust], but if it sits at a school for two weeks the truck doesn’t get on the road,” she said.
Fortunately, a second-hand van was able to be purchased from the head office, which sponsors played a huge part in securing.
The new van is now operating in the original van’s place, having been re-carpeted and fitted out with the right specs and decorations.
An example of how a Reefton mobile classroom was turned into a tiny home.
The original caravan has been listed on TradeMe for a “fundraising” auction, all proceeds will go towards paying off the cost of purchasing the new mobile unit.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the page had raised almost $700.
The advertisement suggests the buyer could turn the van into a tiny home similar to another former classroom purchased in Reefton.
“It is what it is, there’s no reserve - we thought ‘let’s just do this’ and see how much we can raise,” Taylor said.
“It doesn’t have a [Certificate of Fitness], it’s a DIY project. Someone will tinker with it and love it, but it’s not roadworthy at the moment.”
Taylor finished by confirming the all-important news about how Harold found the change in the classroom.
“He’s living in the new caravan now, he’s quite happy and comfortable,” she said.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you