Much of the progress stems from the way the administration team now functions. Several years ago, if your job was looking after the generator, then that was all you did. Arrive at work, turn it on, go home again. And this is how it still works on many of the outer islands. But today on Palmerston, everyone working for the administration is expected to be multi-skilled and to put in a full day's work wherever required. The person turning on the generator might then go lay concrete. The nurse might don a hard-hat and help unload cargo. And everyone is responsible for keeping a section of pathway swept and spotless
'IT'S ALL ABOUT PRIDE...AND DOING POSITIVE THINGS'
Tere Marsters, island secretary since 2003, says the changes were not popular at first, but that people are increasingly appreciative of the work being accomplished. "It's about pride. We're doing positive things for the community - and people can see that." A long list of projects has been ticked off, including buying an excavator and a loader, installing air conditioning in the school, building a multi-purpose hall and a mission house, and sending 95 per cent of the staff away for further training in everything from early childhood education to carpentry. And all assets belonging to the administration - tools or machinery - are kept in a new, centralised workshop.
24 HOUR HEALTH CARE...WITH THE HELP OF A SCOOTER!
The decline in population was halted mainly by a deliberate emphasis on health and education. "We knew that's what families would be looking at. So to draw them back, we needed to improve the school and the health system." The administration team upgraded the health clinic, and began to take seriously its task of supporting the island's one nurse - making sure medical supplies were kept well-stocked, and giving her a hand-held radio and a scooter. She is now on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and "just her presence and her availability has made a big difference