The dumping and burning of vast quantities of education resources was due to an "incredibly unfortunate" mistake, the Cook Islands education ministry says.
Last week, boxes including exercise books, donated reading books, chalk, furniture and other materials were loaded into a truck and driven along to be dumped and set alight.
The head of the education ministry, Gail Townsend, said the materials were being stored in a container at an old school.
Last week, as staff were clearing out the grounds, they were asked to also load the resources in the container onto a truck to be forwarded to other schools.
Ms Townsend said there were two trucks: a ministry truck for the re-usable material, and a contractor's truck for the stuff to be thrown out.
She said there had obviously been a mix-up, because valuable resources that could still be used have now been destroyed.
It's not known how much material has been lost, or what its replacement cost will be.