Old assignment photos can be of great interest to communities where volunteers lived many years ago, says Wellington returned volunteer John Faisandier.

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Eighteen-year-old John Faisandier at Chanel College in Vava'u in 1970.

John was 18 when he taught at St Peter Chanel College in Vava’u in 1970. In 2016, as the college celebrates its 50th Jubilee, he has been posting his old photos for viewing by the college's 1500 Facebook followers.

“Almost none of the ex-students have any photos from that time,” he says. “There were no official school photos and my ones that I have now digitised have sparked off wonderful responses.”

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John's 1970 photos have created great excitement as the school's 50th Jubilee rolls around.

Facebook conversations range from whose house is in the background to the fact the kids are not wearing shoes and how poor they were back in the day, he says. “A large number refer to students who have since died – many more than from my class groups from school in New Zealand.”

Many comments are in Tongan but John has remained fluent in the language since he taught there. He had a great time on a return visit 20 years ago and, with his wife Sally and son Felix, he’s planning to be in Vava’u for three days of jubilee celebrations beginning on Boxing Day, when many Tongans have returned home.

John encourages any other returned volunteers who taught at Chanel to join the Facebook group and post photos. He’s discovered an app called Photomyne, which makes the digitising of old black and white photos a simple process.

“Volunteers from other schools too may be sitting on photos that could be of great interest to the communities they worked in many years ago,” he adds.

John is keen to hear from other former volunteers at Chanel – email john@tuf.co.nz. Ph 04 385 4099 or 027 246 0411.