EMILY IRELAND

A project aiming to boost access to health clinics in Rarotonga has gone from dream to completion, thanks to the dedication of a group of Masterton Rotarians.

The mobile health clinic project, a brainchild of the Masterton South Rotary club, is now completed, taking the form of a brightly decorated bus, fitted with medical equipment and wifi to allow it to be used as a command centre in a disaster event.

It will make its debut at the Masterton Car Boot Sale on Sunday morning.

Project manager and Masterton South Rotarian David Baker said it was almost exactly a year ago that he, Dr Rob Irwin, and Tranzit’s Paul Snelgrove, of Masterton, went over to Rarotonga to evaluate what the island’s health needs were.

“Initially they had been looking for assistance in upgrading their clinics around the island at a cost of about $5000 to $10,000 each,” Mr Baker said.

There were 27 clinics around the island.

“Paul said, ‘well I’ve got a bus we can convert’, Rob said, ‘I can get medical equipment’, and we decided that we could have a superior health clinic that was mobile that could be staffed by two qualified nurses.

“This way, the needs of the community would be fully met, and it would be cheaper.”

The cost of the project was $171,000 (NZ), with the funding coming from four Rotary districts, 16 Rotary clubs within the lower North Island, and Rotary International.

“Paul and Tranzit have been absolutely incredible with their generosity,” Mr Baker said.

“They sold the bus to the project at book value, which is significantly less than its market value, and then all the work they have done and the parts supplied – there have been no margins, just a transfer of cost.

Mr Baker said the replacement worth of the fitted-out bus would be “well in excess of $200,000”.

“People have been blown away by what has been produced, and we are very proud of what has been done.”

The bus will be on display at the Masterton Car Boot Sale on Sunday morning, and at Millennium Reserve from 2pm until about 4.30pm later that day.

It will be driven up to Auckland, set to arrive by May 11, and is scheduled to arrive in the Cook Islands on May 31.

The official Rarotonga welcome is set to be June 18.

Mr Baker wished to make a special mention to the formerly incoming president of Masterton South Rotary Club Warren Carter who died in a car crash last year.

“There will be a plaque on the bus in recognition of his early contributions.”