Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Be very, very touched

Eighteen young men and women with intellectual disabilities grasped every ounce of courage they had to enter the Rotary Best Speaker Awards.

Running it for the second year, Plimmerton Rotary held Wellington heats as well as the National Finals on Saturday 28 May 2016. The heats for the Wellington participants took place in the morning and the top three place-getters were chosen to enter the finals in the afternoon. They were joined by a further five from the North and South Island who had already got through their regional heats.

A video of the whole event is available on request, but in the meantime, this 6 minute extract will give you a taste of the pride, astonishment, humility and amazement we all experienced as we laughed at their creativity and cried as we got a taste of the mountains they all have to climb.

This initiative was originally sparked by a small paragraph in Rotary Down Under in 2014 about a fledgling Lincoln Rotary Youth Project - a public speaking opportunity for young folk aged 16–30 with an intellectual disability.

The Plimmerton Rotary Youth Committee, spearheaded by Julie McLagan, picked up the idea and ran a successful pilot in 2015. Feedback was so positive and encouraging from participants, their families and support workers, that the club has now taken on this project as an important part of its annual programme. “I know that such projects do Rotary proud!” said Julie.

The whole day was a very happy success. Each participant was presented with a framed Certificate of Merit. There were trophies and prize money for each of the national place-getters.

The project was fully sponsored by local businesses. Tommy’s Real Estate picked up the main costs. One parent said, “Many thanks to you, your team, and Rotary for the wonderful speech competition held this afternoon. We were very impressed with everybody we met and with the obvious effort that you had all gone to, to make it such a special occasion. The corsages were a lovely touch, as were the name tags, the generous afternoon tea, the technical support, the various roles you all played, not to mention the very generous prizes.”

The eventual winner, Katrina Sneath from Johnsonville, Wellington, is pictured here. She has quite recently been appointed a Youth Parliamentarian and is already very proactive in her role.

The second place-getter was Jeremy McKenzie from Whakatane (pictured here). He talked about his passion for geography.

Samuel Goddard from Christchurch was placed third. He told us that he has Aspergers and that his dream is to become independent.

His mother said, “…It really was very special and lovely to see these young adults being given an opportunity to shine. I know Sam has gained so much confidence from the whole experience.”
Editor’s note: You can read the article about Samuel that appeared in the New Zealand Herald on 10 May here.
The feedback has been amazing and very humbling. Here are just a very few extracts from the many we received …
“…One of the outcomes we would all like is for our young people with disabilities to be fully integrated into the community. This competition is one way of contributing to that end and illustrating just what these young people are capable of. Our community is all the better for it.”
“…Thank you again for giving Matthew this opportunity. His confidence has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. Starjam are doing a story on him. It is our wish that his story will give hope to other families whose children are diagnosed autistic. He entered the competition to boost his confidence as he is going to be best man at his brother's wedding early next year.  He tells me his speech is going to be awesome - and I am sure it is."
“Thank you for giving me a privileged opportunity. It was awesome listening to all the other contestants.”

“I made myself come,” said a participant who arrived knowing no-one. And as she left, her parting words were, “It was the best day! I loved it.”

“Before this he didn’t say much. We couldn’t not come. It has been the making of him!” said a beaming father of a family of four who all flew up from Christchurch for the day to support their son/brother.

 “I felt so humbled by the experience.  I had tears in my eyes, the experience was beautiful and the recognition and opportunity given to these young people just can't be expressed in words,” said a Rotarian spectator.

“We’re already planning for next year. It will be bigger and better from us,” said the organiser and co-ordinator from the Bay of Plenty

It was such a happy result that each participating area had a place-getter in the Finals, even though that is one aspect we could not have organised! It was a great day! Certificates and trophies were clutched close. The smiles were huge, the hugs many and warm.

Before concluding the day with a scrumptious afternoon tea, we were entertained by StarJam, a not for profit organisation that empowers young New Zealanders with disabilities to achieve their full potential through music and performance workshops.

The next step is to spread the word to Rotary Clubs throughout New Zealand to widen the opportunity for many more IHC youth by having more regional heats. Julie McLagan will be glad to hear from anyone around the country who’d like to be involved next year. You can contact her here.

“Hopefully next year many more Rotary Clubs New Zealand-wide will support this very worthwhile project and more young people will be encouraged to take part”, she said. "We can make such a difference in the lives of the participants and their families.

“Rotary has the power to dip deep into the community to harness resources and to really make a difference. I was so happy to see this opportunity to help others in society where there is a need. I am fully aware that, like many others, our contribution will only be a drop in the ocean. However, as Mother Teresa said, ‘Without that drop, the ocean will never be full.’ That is why I am a Rotarian.”

Reprinted on request from the Plimmerton Rotary blog

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Words: Dave Woodhouse, Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise, NZ
Surely what must be one of the simplest and yet most effective ways of raising awareness and fundraising is the Savealife Rotary project which is administered by the Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise, NZ.
It all started in 2015 when two enterprising Rotarians, John Dentice and Brian Rickard from Palmerston North, NZ saw an opportunity for selling capsule keyrings. The big difference was that each capsule was to contain a 300mg soluble aspirin which could be used if someone was experiencing signs of a heart attack. The simple act of chewing that aspirin, or having it dissolve if placed under the tongue, may help to keep that person alive for up to what the paramedics call 'The Golden Hour' - that being the time between having the attack and the paramedics arriving on the scene and transporting the patient to hospital. John and Brian explored all the aspects of this idea and soon had the backing of medical consultants.
All the components were sourced, the capsules were filled and bagged and the big sell began! Pretty soon, it became obvious that this idea was going to be bigger than they imagined and, after a fortuitous meeting at a trade show with Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise President Ron Fyfe, a collaboration was deemed necessary in order to roll out the project to a wider network. Thus, Tauranga Sunrise Rotary took over the national distribution of the capsules (originally named ‘Lifesavers’, subsequently re-branded to 'Savealife').
The early days were tentative as we tested the market and introduced three different selling tiers:
Retail :                $NZ4 (No minimum)
Retailers:             $3 (100 minimum)
Rotary clubs:      $2 (100 minimum)
All prices include Goods and Services Tax (GST)
It quickly became apparent that the best way to publicise the project was to encourage other Rotary clubs to take over distribution for their respective areas by whatever means they saw fit, thereby making a $2 profit on each one they sell at retail level. The tiered selling also allowed for clubs to make a $1 profit if they on sold to retailers.
Rotary clubs in District 9930 joined in initially and then the word got round, so we started getting enquiries from clubs further afield. We also saw a niche market which gave the opportunity for enterprising companies to purchase the capsules as a corporate giveaway with their own logo and contact details – for this we charge a $1 per unit premium. 
Website was launched with further information on the project and a contact form.
Orders soon started rolling in, especially with companies seeing the value of being part of such a caring and potentially life-saving project. Pdf images are always supplied for approval prior to manufacture.
Home shows, women's expos and other trade shows were very successful, with very few refusals, so the next stage was to run a newspaper promotion. The publishers needed no encouragement to feature the capsules on pages 1,2 and 3 of their free edition Bay of Plenty Times and orders followed thick and fast. A call by one of our founding members to the Newstalk ZB radio studio (following a feature on defibrillators) saw enquiries from all over New Zealand and further afield.
Our mission statement is to encourage as many people to have a Savealife capsule on their keyring. It is perhaps surprising – and not a little scary – that we are receiving regular reports and stories of people who had had to use their capsule. Incidentally, each sale is accompanied by a purse or wallet sized card which gives all details in relation to procedure, not the least of which is checking for the existence of a MedicAlert medical identity bracelet or necklace and, of course, to dial 111 emergency service. In the vast majority of cases, the paramedics have asked the caller, “Does anyone have an aspirin with them?”
As a club, we feel that we are only just scratching the surface of this great fundraiser, especially as ALL the profit that we make goes back into the community and even after the first eight months, this is proving to be a significant sum, so we encourage any other clubs to contact us to help fulfil our dream while saving lives.
Internationally, there is the opportunity for our Rotarian friends across the Tasman to participate and, whilst we are not able to export filled with aspirin capsules, we are actively seeking national distribution partners to work towards a mutually beneficial end.
Interested? For more information, please contact Savealife Project Coordinator Dave Woodhouse via +64 27 513 2345 or email
Is $4 a fair price to pay for the potential of saving a life?  We think so.    

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Tauranga Rotary’s goal is to help Pacific Islanders see

Words: David Garland, Rotary Club of Tauranga, NZ
Photos: Marine Reach

Over many years, the Rotary Club of Tauranga and the people of Tauranga have supported the humanitarian organisation Marine Reach as they take dental, eye health, general medical and community development assistance to the people who live on the small islands of the Pacific.

Because these people do not have ready access to the services that people in New Zealand take for granted, their health and life expectancy is significantly reduced.

Marine Reach has been taking these services to the Pacific for over 25 years using small specially fitted hospital ships.

Their current ship, the MV Pacific Hope, has recently arrived back to its home port Tauranga, after her first voyage of mercy to the Pacific. View the video of her first voyage and about this great organisation by visiting

Two years ago Tauranga Rotary and its sister Rotary clubs in Japan and Australia provided the equipment to furnish the dental clinic aboard Pacific Hope.

Tauranga Rotary, again with the support of its sister clubs and others in New Zealand and international, including a Rotary Foundation Global Grant, have set a goal to now furnish the ophthalmology clinic.

The fundraising project has set a sum of $90,000 as it target.  Already there are commitments of around $75,000 with additional donations being received daily.

Tauranga Rotary, whose motto is “Service Above Self”, invites the people and businesses of Tauranga, New Zealand and overseas to come aboard and join us as we make a difference to the lives of our neighbours in the Pacific.

Donations can be sent by cheque to P O Box 609, Tauranga or via Give a Little using your credit card via    

All donors will receive charitable donation receipts and donors of over $500 will be recognised by an inscription on a panel to be installed in the ophthalmology clinic.

For more information, contact Project Coordinator David Garland on +64 7 543 2012 or

Community partnership brings day of fun

Max getting instructions:
The soon-to-be 5-8 year old final winner, Max receives instructions before the start of the race
What happens when the Whakatāne Menz Shed, Whakatāne Blue Light and the Rotary Club of Whakatāne get together? You get the seriously fun Grass Track Trolley Derby, which was on a sunny February afternoon at a farm in Awakeri, Whakatāne, NZ.
The three community-based groups collaborated to organise and host the trolley derby which saw 59 children and 16 adults ranging from age five to 70 years old scooting down the hillside on trolleys of all shapes and sizes. There were plenty more watching the action and righting spilled trolleys or dusting off their children.
The Menz Shed held two Saturday morning trolley-building workshops for those who didn’t already have a trolley of their own. These were a great opportunity to share and learn skills, and were well attended by enthusiastic children.
The trolley derby was a great family event which was carried out with very little expense, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Whakatāne Rotary and a minimal entry fee. Whakatāne Rotary will be looking to host the event again next year, so get your trolley-building plans in place for next summer!
For more information, please contact Rotary Club of Whakatāne Director of Community Services Janie Storey via

The handmade blanket

Words and photo: Patricia Cooper, Rotary Club of Mount Victoria, in Wellington, NZ
On a warm Wellington Monday morning in New Zealand, I opened a box marked “House 16”.  I was unprepared for what I saw; the item that caught my eye was a hand crochet woollen blanket tied up by a lace ribbon with the word “Welcome” attached to the bow.
It is moments like this that pull at the heart strings and what a wonderful gift for a refugee family settling in Wellington.
I was part of a group of people opening and checking boxes of household items for a refugee family settling in Wellington.  In the boxes being opened and checked were all the items needed to set up a household.
The call went out from the Catholic and Anglican Diocese of Wellington to parishes to please supply enough household items for 25 households.  Also requested were pantry items and housing warming gifts. Among the house warming gifts were TV, microwaves, vacuum cleaners and telephones
The response has been overwhelming, with many more items received than needed. All of these extra items will be stored for the next intake of refugee in a couple of months.
Of course planning for all this started many months ago and it’s not just about the setting up the households; there are work experience, confidence with driving and English lessons to be worked through.
Last year, I invited the Archdeacon of Wellington Father Stephen King to visit our Rotary Club of Mount Victoria to talk to us about how Rotary could help with this enormous project. Father Stephen suggested providing work experience for the refugees would be a great way for Rotarians could help.  Our club has already offered work experience for some refugees. 
If you can help with any of the opportunities mentioned, please contact Archdeacon Stephen King on + 64 272 100 780 or email

Concert by the Lake

The Beatles Tribute band during their second set.
Words and photos: David Hulme, President, Rotary Club of Matamata, NZ
The Rotary Club of Matamata’s second annual Concert by the Lake event is being hailed as a success with organisers now looking for ways to draw an even bigger crowd in 2017.
Almost 300 people attended the concert which was held on the property of Rotarians Peter and Ineke Thissen, in Matamata, New Zealand.
Peter, an engineer, designed and built the pontoon which the artists performed from out on the water in what can only be described as picturesque surroundings.
He dreamed up the concept of a concert on a pontoon at his property several years ago and 2015 saw that dream become a reality as 350 people attended the inaugural event.

This year’s crowd were entertained by Kiwi songstress Jamie McDell, who performed a number of her solo hits before teaming up with her younger sister Tess in a world debut performance of their new collaboration called Dunes.
The McDell sisters were joined on stage by the Tim Armstrong Beatles Tribute Band who literally had the pontoon bouncing as they pounded out the Fab Four’s hits while Tauranga-based jazz/blues band Kokomo provided a melodic accompaniment during their time on the pontoon.
Matamata Rotary event director Lynette Stanley said overall the club was very pleased with the way the concert had gone.  “We have received nothing but positive feedback from concert-goers and we know there were several other huge events nationally that clashed with ours, meaning ticket sales were down on last year,” Lynette said.  “We are confident that next year with the positive publicity that we have achieved, numbers will grow and we will be able to give even more money to worthy causes.”

Proceeds from this year’s concert are being split between two local charities – Pohlen Hospital (the town’s privately operated hospital) and Starfish Social Services (a counselling/mentoring programme for at risk youth in area).

“Both of these charities have a large impact on our community and it is great that we can support them in any way we can,” Lynette said.
Work will begin shortly on getting ready for the 2017 concert with the first priority being signing the acts to perform.

The Dictionary Project Targets Australia

Words:  Past Rotary International President Bill Boyd, Trustee of the Bill and Lorna Boyd Charitable Trust
At the South Pacific Presidents Elect Training Seminar, a friendly Australian asked me why the Dictionary project was so successful in New Zealand, yet does not exist in Australia. In New Zealand, with a population smaller than that of Sydney, since 2008 we have through Rotary given 120,000 dictionaries, mostly to year 4 children in schools in lower socio-economic areas, but also to prisons and every child that goes through the Refugee Resettlement Centre, and these become the personal property of the recipient. This is important, as teachers tell us that some of these children live in homes without one book. An added benefit for Rotary is that when the children write their name, it is on a page that shows the donor Rotary club and a simple Four-Way Test so that every dictionary spreads an awareness of Rotary.
While technology in schools is increasing, you cannot expect a home without a book to have a computer and interestingly we are finding that schools equipping children with tablets through various schemes still ask their Rotary club to continue our dictionary project. Not all, for some are 100% focussed on technology, but many teachers still see the value of the written word.
Our dictionary is not a dull and boring book. It has 10,000 entries and 25,000 definitions and most importantly over 1000 illustrations and colour on every page. The retail price is over $NZ30 and you can calculate the value of Rotary’s gift to our communities.
The project is made possible by the Bill and Lorna Boyd Charitable Trust, funded by Rotarians after Bill’s year as President of Rotary International. The Trust gives us the financial ability to import dictionaries in shipments of 20,000 copies and to pay the publisher as soon as the shipment arrives directly from the printer in Dubai. Rotary clubs then buy the dictionaries from the Trust at $NZ9.50 each which rebuilds the Trust’s funds. You can appreciate that supplying a class of 25 children is within the financial resources of even small clubs and in some areas clubs have the support of local Trusts.
Last year clubs ordered 17% more copies than the year before, so we are far from having saturated the market!
The need if Australians want their own dictionary project is to find a funding source that can provide the seed funds for each shipment. Once this is available it is not difficult to gain the support of Rotarians to run the project and it becomes a magic Rotary moment to be at a school and to have a child put their name in what becomes their own book.

Kapiti’s debate leads change for greater diversity

(L-R): John McBeth, Rotary Club of Wellington President Kerry Prendergast, Rotary Club of Kapiti President Roger Sowry, District 9940 Governor Simon Manning, Louise Nelson, Anna Guenther and Liz Koh who is Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce Chair and Rotary Club of Kapiti Immediate Past President (at the podium)
Words and photos: Hannah Delaney, PR Communications Manager, Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce
International Women’s Day on March 8 was widely celebrated in New Zealand, but in case you missed it, pencil Kapiti’s event in your diary for next year.
The “Is it in the Genes?” debate, jointly hosted by The Kapiti Rotary Club and The Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce is likely to be an annual celebration with over 200 attendees at the celebrity event - not only successfully raising awareness of the issue - but also $1000 for Kapiti Youth Support!
Guest speakers included: former Wellington mayor and Rotary Club of Wellington President Kerry Prendergast; CEO & founder of PledgeMe Anna Guenther; Royal NZ Air Force Helicopter Crewman & former Miss Manawatu Louise Nelson; former MP and politician and Rotary Club of Kapiti President Roger Sowry; Rotary District 9940 Governor Simon Manning; and sports commentator John McBeth.
Event MC Wallace Chapman of Radio New Zealand National, set the debate tone that ranged from Simon’s discussion on New Zealand Rotary and the need for greater diversity in an organisation that has been known for the phrase “male, pale and stale”, to the difference between male and female thinking with Louise’s demonstration of her initiative to use a trolley to transport 52kgs of Army equipment - as opposed to carrying it over her shoulder like her male counterparts!
Voicing her corporate experience, Anna ended the debate with impact, in her brilliant point about climbing the corporate ladder, which was met by a round of applause from the audience.  “We also need to be supporting women through the ranks and supporting them as they go up the ladder… and actually, let dudes climb down that ladder if they want to as well. Heck! Let's change the ladder!”
Stories and tales that all concluded one thing: we have come far in society, but there is still a way to go.
For those who missed it, make sure you save the date for next year, because if this year’s event was anything to go by, you won’t want to miss it!

Rotary partners with Rotaract to celebrate women’s achievements

Principal of Riverhills School, Sarah Allen and Brittany Lemi
Words:  Peter Woodcock, of Rotary Club of Pakuranga, NZ
How can a Rotary club capitalise on special ‘International  Day of …’ occasions, provide opportunity for networking, strengthen ties with Rotaract, support a local charity, promote membership as well as give everyone a very entertaining night out?
Rotary Club of Pakuranga’s Community Director Sylvie Wilkinson found the answer. International Women’s Day was the ‘excuse’. Getting Pakuranga Rotaract Club on the organising team, engaging two prominent Auckland women as MC and speaker, inviting local professional women to take part and encouraging fellow members and  partners to join in, provided all the ingredients for a very significant occasion.
The Waipuna Convention Centre in Auckland, New Zealand provided the setting for the special event held on Monday February 29.  About 40% of the 140 participants had no connection with Rotary. With stunning wall  panels and table runners, designed and painted by  local school children brightening up the room, the scene was set for an evening in which the achievements of women, both in New Zealand and overseas were acknowledged and celebrated.
Celebrity chef and radio host, Helen Jackson, provided continuity as MC. She interspersed her duties with heart-warming but also challenging stories related to the Guardian Angels Charitable Trust which she co-founded in 2004.  This trust provides practical assistance to needy families struggling with the care of terminally ill child. Referrals come from Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland. Through sale of the art work,  along with donations delightfully solicited by Rotaractors,  Sylvie presented  the Trust  with a cheque for $3000.
The buzz of conversation during the carefully planned networking spells testified to the value of bringing motivated and successful people together in a fun filled setting. There were substantial prizes for the best dressed ethnic and historical woman, as well as spot prizes personally presented by the various corporate women guests. Business cards collected  for a prize draw (cleverly designed to capture potential members) showed a huge range of occupations and services.
Highlight of the evening was the address by Diane Foreman who gave a very personal account of her life experiences from solo-parent in a receptionist job to CEO of one of New Zealand’s largest companies, the title of NZ Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, and No. 11 in Forbes’ magazine list of Power Business Women in Asia in 2014. Her story, together with her expressed desire to promote women in business, could not help but make an impact on all present. As one seasoned Rotarian remarked,” That was the best Rotary function  I have attended in all my years in the club”. Yes, with a little imagination, Rotary can capitalise on special days, promoting our local community, Rotaract and our Rotary organisation. 

A mesmerising mouthful

Assistant governor Philip Wilson congratulates a runner up in the best dressed pinnies competition who is hot stuff!  The overall winner was assistant governor Pam Deal.
-        Words and photos: Farida Master, News Editor, Times Newspapers Ltd, of the Rotary Club of Somerville, NZ
She’s hilarious and a selfconfessed nomad at heart. “Most of my travels were triggered either by running away from a man or running towards him,” said the feisty food author Peta Mathias as she brought the house down at the Women in Rotary, Pinnies and Pearls High Tea hosted at Novotel Hotel Ellerslie in Auckland , New Zealand on Sunday March 13.

The culinary tour host spoke about her book Hot Pink Spice Saga: An Indian Culinary Travelogue with Recipes and her romance with cuisines of India, France Vietnam and Morocco.

“If someone invites you and says come home to my mother’s place for dinner, you must say `yes’, even if it is the tuk tuk driver.
“Indians are very hospitable and it should be like a dance of exchange,” she told over 150 women at the Women in Rotary fundraiser as they feasted on their salmon and dill sandwiches, orange and poppy seed cake, macaroons and mini date scones with cream and berry jam.

The event was organised by assistant governor Sue Fairburn with the help of other Rotarians, their partners and Rotary International Youth Exchange students.
“Restaurants are for visitors. If you want to know the culture of a country you must experience its cuisine. “Don’t have continental breakfast at the hotel and act like a tourist,” the culinary queen said. The red-haired food adventurer regaled the audience with a hilarious account of her 11-hour train journey in India, where she spent all her time thinking of how she could kill her friend for suggesting train travel in a second class sleeper coach. Among the guests were Rotary district 9920 governor nominee Malini Raghwan, who travelled from Suva to support the International Women’s Day celebration, as well as Leanne Jaggs, the outspoken past district governor, also master of ceremonies for the gathering. The only three men in pinnies and pearls who were clearly outnumbered and spent all their time sportingly serving the women bubbly and high tea were past district governor Alan Eyes and assistant governors Philip Wilson and Bart Signal.