Unitec students help staff temporary vet clinic in Tonga

  • Vet nurse students from Unitec

Unitec veterinary nursing students are part of a team setting up a temporary veterinary clinic in Tonga this week.

A group of 14 certificate and diploma level students, and three teaching staff, will travel to Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu where they will visit Nukualofa and some of the smaller villages.

Laura Harvey, Environmental and Animal Sciences lecturer at Unitec, says it will be an intense week for the students.

“They are doing more practical tasks and getting more experience in the week they are in Tonga than they would normally from a whole year of work placements,” says Ms Harvey.

“They will deal with whatever comes in the door. In the past we have done an eye removal, a few leg amputations, treated a pig that had been attacked, piglets with mange, sick puppies, seen some horses and goats.

“This is the fourth year Unitec has been sending students to Tonga. Last year, we completed over 200 surgeries and saw more than 300 animals. Our students are kept busy and despite the high workload it is an extremely rewarding experience.”

The trip is in conjunction with South Pacific Animal Welfare (SPAW), a registered New Zealand charity which provides companion animal veterinary services such as de-sexing and vaccinations in the Pacific Islands.

Tonga has no regular companion animal vet so the communities are heavily reliant on SPAW trips for vaccination and de-sexing, as well as treating any sick and injured animals while the temporary clinic is operating.