Tuesday, 28 April 2015

One Step Closer

(Community Pathway Partnership)

Many hands make light work
Eight successive years and eight hundred meters later, the Rongomai Park pathway linking Rongomai and Te Irirangi roads is one step closer to completion.

Auckland turned on another fine late summer weekend as the team from Botany East Tamaki Rotary poured concrete to complete another 120m section of pathway. The path provides an important all weather and safe route through the park linking communities from both sides with the new sports grounds.

Through successive councils following the creation of the Auckland Super City, Botany East Tamaki Rotary has worked with the Otara Papatoetoe Local Board to add annual increments of pathway through Rongomai Park. “It’s a great partnership” states Rotaries Mike Jaggs. “The council gets to directly engage Rotary, a community service organization, who in turn volunteer their vocational skills to manage the project and provide the additional manpower. Money saved is then directed back into the Rotary clubs community programs. ”

Many hands on deck make lighter work. With team from Apex Concrete providing the professional direction to ensure the job was completed up to standard. And trucks arriving regularly from local company Bridgeman Concrete, there was little time to rest. The small army of Rotarian’s were also supported by Seth, Casey and Donnie, three family members of a candidate that the club sponsored on the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program. “This is one of those great benefits that Rotary can deliver in the community. We support one youth through a leadership course and gained the support of their family putting their time and effort back into improving their local community,” states Jaggs.

Rotary are well known for their leadership programs but this is not all they do. Each year 3 student at three local decile one Primary Schools receive an Usborne Pictorial Dictionary from the club. “More often than not, this is the only book that many of this kids own themselves. Few things are more important than getting a good education and we’re very proud of doing our bit to give these kids a hand up in life,” says Jaggs. “We’ve also assisted this past year to fund three groups of students to Kokako Lodge an outdoor education camp in the Hunua Ranges and fund a growing unit for Trees For Survival at a local school. Youth and education are two big focuses of our Rotary Club.”

Immediate Past President David Houghton passes special thanks to the support team that makes it all happen. “Thanks to the Otara Papatoetoe Local Board, our bobcat driver and Tony Moore and his boxing team, the key partners we engage, Apex Concrete, Steel & Tube and Bridgeman Concrete, it’s a team effort that delivers a lasting legacy for our community.”

Thursday, 16 April 2015

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – Rotary Emergency Response Kits (ERKs)

All 1000 Rotary Emergency Response Kits have now been distributed in Vanuatu. Rotary New Zealand is indebted in its partnership on this occasion with World Vision who provided the logistics and personnel in Vanuatu

and included in the distribution World Vision Shelter Tool Kits and Tarpaulins which complimented the contents of the Rotary Emergency Response Kits.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

New Water/Sanitation and Hygiene eClub will centralize WASH skills from around the world

More and more Rotarians are heeding the call to address one of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges:    unsafe drinking water.   Access to safe water is a fundamental human need, and in many minds, a fundamental human right.  Closely aligned is the need for adequate sanitation.  All too often human waste is contaminating drinking water in developing nations and threatening the lives of millions – especially children.   Fetching water from increasingly distant sources also uses up the lion’s share of time and energy for millions of rural women. 

All of this is an outrageous waste for humankind.  It’s linked to numerous diseases and dangerous pathogens, including the poliovirus.  Rotarians have joined under the Wasrag (Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group) banner to meet the challenge.  But, we need many skills and a wide range of talents if we are to succeed.

In the past identifying and harnessing these skills has been difficult, but the emergence of the internet, social media and “apps” is changing the world.  Now we can have Rotary eClubs, uniting Rotarians electronically wherever Rotary exists. 

District 9980 (southernmost New Zealand) has been researching the feasibility of a global WASH eClub to focus and link WASH skills from around the world.  Enthusiastic support is coming from Past Rotary International President and current Wasrag Chair Bill Boyd, and Dr. Nicholas Mancus, who is currently managing a major WASH program in Uganda.  The club will retain many of a traditional club’s characteristics – but one of the biggest challenges will be maintaining the fellowship and spirit that is the heart of  Rotary.

The District is very  fortunate in having the support of University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic researchers, whose sophisticated IT expertise, united with Rotary’s humanitarian skills, will be an enormous asset for the new club.

The first step will be to form a “New Club Sponsorship” working team.  The board members of all new clubs, including eClubs, need mentoring in their early days so they can get up-to-speed as quickly as possible.  With the right guidance, we hope to have the new eClub up and running within a year. 

Regardless of where you live, if you can help District 9980 launch and sustain this eClub until its members are on their feet, please email:  info@wasrag.org.   

Greymouth Summer Street "Fare": February 2015

Just Jazz performing at the Greymouth Rotary Summer Street Fare

Rotarians and a Rotarian partner at work, Centre Gary Hopkinson, onion man Dave McMillan plus Chris Stoop—husband of a Rotarian

The Greymouth District Council, in the South Island of New Zealand, is going through an urban redevelopment programme and has been engaging with the community through an extensive consultative process.

Several members of Greymouth Rotary have experienced summer fetes, in Southern France, that  bring together visitors and locals with food stalls, music and local fare. Typically a town square is closed off and tables and chairs are provided for the community who can purchase food and drinks from food stalls and enjoy eating whilst listening to local musicians.

Greymouth Rotary partnered with the community and  closed off a street in the centre of town, recruited 12 food stalls,7 art and craft stalls and organised professional musicians to entertain.

The event was an outstanding success. It may become a regular feature on the Greymouth calendar.

According to Council's economic development coordinator 'The event was a fantastic, vibrant and community building event. I have had lots of positive feedback and thoroughly enjoyed it myself.'

This was a community building project rather than a fund raiser and club members used their Rotary networking skills to generate a most successful 'Fare'.

Rotary and Lions combined to run a food stall to promote one of our local food products and thus generated a modest donation to our local Air Rescue Trust. 200 venison burgers and many plates of gourmet sausage tasting samples were sold in just two hours.

Thanks  to the support of the community and the registered stall holders the Rotary Club of Greymouth was  able to run the event on a modest budget.

A history of giving and a challenge for the future...

Sir John and Lady McKenzie

Roy and Shirley McKenzie
2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the JR McKenzie Trust.  It also marks 75 years of dedicated support for the Trust’s work from Rotarians around New Zealand. Over this time the Trust has given over $83 million to support New Zealanders in need.

Sir John McKenzie (KBE) established the Trust in 1940 by donating a third of the profits from his successful nationwide chain of department stores, McKenzies.  His strong personal belief in providing benefits and assistance to people in need was based on his own poor origins, and his need ‘to give something back’ remained constant throughout his life and the lives of McKenzie generations to come.

Rotarian Patrick Cummings, Chair of the JR McKenzie Trust, says, 'Sir John joined the Rotary Club of Wellington in 1923 and this had a profound influence on his life.  From the outset, he entrusted Rotary clubs to act as agents for allocating Trust funds to support local communities. He realised the value of Rotary as a network of civic-minded people throughout New Zealand. Rotarians were willing to help and continue to do so today.'

Sir John’s son Sir Roy (ONZ, KBE), also a Rotarian, greatly increased the Trust’s size and profile, set up several other charities, and was a major figure in New Zealand philanthropy until his death in 2007.

The Trust has been an early supporter of many of what are now New Zealand’s leading community organisations – groups such as Women’s Refuge, People First, CCS Disability Action, the Stroke Foundation, Relationship Services, Rape Crisis and Age Concern.  The Trust has also supported many local and ground-breaking organisations working within marginalised communities. The Trust’s key areas of focus today are disadvantaged children and their families, and Māori development.

Currently the family is represented on the JR McKenzie Trust Board by cousin David Vance, and Chris McKenzie, a great-grandson of the founder.

Each of the six Rotary Districts in New Zealand provides a Board member for the Trust Board, and leads a team of Rotarians and other volunteers in their District who also contribute to the Trust’s work.

'Child poverty is a key focus for the Trust.  Let’s ask what both we and others can do to reduce child poverty in New Zealand.  Many groups close to the ground are doing great work in assisting the families they reach.  Wearing my ‘Rotary’ hat, my challenge to you is what can Rotary do to reduce child poverty and its effects?' says Mr Cummings.

For more information about the McKenzie family and Trust you can visit the McKenzie Room,  JR McKenzie Trust, Level 4, 116 Lambton Quay, Wellington.  Call (04) 472 8876 or visit the Trust’s website -  www.jrmckenzie.org.nz.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu: ShelterBox aid is being distributed in Tanna

VANUATU — (April 8, 2015) — Urgent Shelter Kits are on their way to communities devastated by Cyclone Pam on Tanna Island, in Vanuatu’s south. Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu with devastating force, claiming 8 lives and destroying homes, hospitals and crops.
The Category Five cyclone was one of the worst storms to ever hit the region. It is estimated that 166,000 people have been affected, and between 50-90% of infrastructure destroyed.
ShelterBox is working with CARE International who is responding in Tafea Province in the south, where 32,000 people live.
Large parts of Tanna, which is home to around 24,000 people, remain cut off due to landslides and severe cyclone damage making many roads impassable. Aerial assessments indicate that in some communities all the homes have been severely damaged or destroyed.
“Decimation is the only word for what has happened here,” said CARE Vantuatu’s Program Manager Charlie Damon in Lenakal on Tanna Island’s western coast. “You cannot see a leaf on a tree. What used to be a green island, is now brown. All crops have been destroyed, all traditional housing is gone. People are without water. This is a grave situation down here.”
“This is a country of 83 islands stretched over many hundreds of miles of ocean. Most people in the country live in rural communities, and even making contact with most areas remains extremely challenging,” said CARE’s Tom Perry in Port Vila.
“Communications are still down, roads are blocked by landslides and many bridges are broken or have collapsed. CARE is doing what we can to get help to those that need it, but this is a massive logistical challenge.”
ShelterBox Response Teams are busy assisting survivors in the Tafea Province with urgently needed shelter. ShelterBox volunteer Greg Moran (AUS) reports that the urgently needed Shelter Kits which have arrived today on a barge had travelled overnight from Port Vila. The barge is carrying a large amount of ShelterBox aid for the island and the team’s next challenge will be to get the aid to where it is most needed.

Media contact: Mike Cahill +64 (0) 21 328084 mc@shelterbox.org.nz

About ShelterBox: Every year thousands of communities, often with no warning, lose their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods. Every day they are faced with a battle for survival.
ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis.
Since we were founded in 2000, we have responded to more than 250 earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, typhoons and conflict, in some 90 countries, delivering emergency humanitarian aid to communities in need.

My Rylarian Rite of Passage

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) is a five-day programme for people aged 18 to 24, during which you become a ‘Rylarian’.  I attended the 9940 RYLA, hosted by the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson in January 2015.

Beyond the acronym I knew very little about RYLA. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and when I arrived was rather nervous, and I am so glad I went! I made fabulous friends, and learnt a great deal about myself, others and leadership, but more significantly, how it all comes together.

With an overriding theme of leadership and collaboration, RYLA is a week of learning and reflection. Each day was filled with inspirational speakers, including Gregory Fortuin, New Zealand's former race relations conciliator, and former friend and colleague of Nelson Mandela. Fortuin spoke about utilising your life experiences and personal values to achieve compassionate leadership and create change.

It was a week of team building. We had to work together, trust each other, and understand our different strengths and skills in order for us to get through. We were pushed out of our ‘comfort zones’ with fast-paced activities that demanded synergy from each team. Over the week, we were tied with rope and had negotiate with bushes, gates and tree stumps; we searched for ‘missing’ teammates while blindfolded and unable to speak to one another; we did an obstacle course through the trees at Adrenaline Forest; and on the final day, we had the ‘RYLATHON’, where all our learning came together. A treasure hunt of epic proportions, this final challenge involved building a raft and relocating it, and us, to the opposite side of a small bay around a large jetty.  These are not your ‘everyday’ activities, and they a demanded an understanding of what we, and others, can bring and need from a team in order achieve great things.

RYLA 9940 2015 showed me how a group of strangers can come together to do inspiring things by combining their knowledge and skills through supportive collaboration. I am immensely grateful to the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson who sponsored me to attend. I found the experience invaluable, and I encourage all people ages 18 to 14 to attend, you won’t regret it!

Brontë Jefferies

Supplementary:  All Rotary districts in New Zealand hold a RYLA annually.  The purpose is similar but each devises their own programme and criteria.  Please contact the appropriate district via www.rotarysouthpacific.org