Thursday, June 20, 2024

Reading Enrichment Programme (REP)

REP is a Rotary Penrose programme led by Ann Dunphy, where volunteers work with students to raise their literacy levels to assist in improving academic paths for the rest of their education.

REP is more than this, however.

Working in partnership with the The New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network, the national hub for youth mentoring programmes in NZ, the volunteers become friends with the students providing help in other areas of their life as you will see from this video.

If you feel this is something that would interest you please contact your local Rotary Club or contact Ann direct for further information.

Contact: Ann Dunphy (Rotary Club Penrose)
Mobile:  021 684 498


LINDSAY R. FORD: My Journey in Rotary

Club member Bruce Murdoch welcomed and introduced fellow Rotarian Lindsay Ford, known especially well by members who have worked alongside him on Pacific Island projects over the years as well other from his many visits to us over the last ten plus years. To list Lindsay’s credentials would take nearly as long, suffice to say he’s journeyed from being a club Member through to District Governor (DG) and beyond.

Lindsay was District PolioPlus Sub Committee Chair and a past-appointee to The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisors. Lindsay has received a string of Rotary awards including Distinguished Service Award recognising his exceptional service to the Foundation over many years. That aside, Lindsay’s passion is getting involved with many high value Global and Matching Grants, cutting through red tape

to deliver the goods. A fibrous plasterer by trade, Lindsay together with his wife Alison, a nurse, ran a successful contracting business for 35-years. Originally from Bundaberg, the two have also been Norfolk Island residents since 2006.

Lindsay acknowledged it was good to be back at our club again and how sad it was to no longer to see Bede Brittenden in our midst.

[There are two styles Lindsay’s talk to us could have been written up in this Newsletter: ‘reported speech’ outlying key points, or ‘direct speech’ which better relays tone and mood. Lindsay is a great character who is far better portrayed using the latter.]

Over to you Lindsay…

Barry [Stafford] said when he invited me to be the speaker, I could speak about whatever I wanted to, and I thought: you never say that to a past District Governor, but suggested I might talk about my journey in Rotary.

I don’t I don’t suppose people know a lot about what my journey is actually. When I say my journey of course I’m talking about a journey that Alison and I have done together, as we are a team.

I joined the Rotary Club of Bundaberg in July 1998. It was quite a large club fifty-seven all male members. I got invited there on one night and when I walked into the room, I didn’t know anyone, except the guy that invited me along. Not knowing anyone, I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone either, so I walked up the other end of the room where they had the Honour Board. This Honor Board included every past leader of our city since the club had started. I thought to myself at that stage: I won’t be coming back because they were all way, way overqualified for me – they’re all professional people, academics and that, and just out of my league.

But they did have a great club Bulletin and it was full of jokes. I’d come from a background of surf lifesaving, about nearly thirty years, and I thought when I joined Rotary, I was going to do raffles – like come along to a meeting like tonight and do raffles because I don’t know who was going to be there, didn’t know anything about Rotary, but that’s what I expected.

I used to go home, and Alison would say, “What’d you do tonight?”, and I said, “Nothing, we didn’t do anything. It was just a guy up there talking about something that I really wasn’t interested in most of the time.” But she used to sit up in bed, wait for this Bulletin to come home and she thought the jokes were great.

I was one of those Rotarians who was going to leave after six months. I didn’t need the fellowship and I was still heavily involved with lifesaving [Life Member of Elliott Heads Surf Lifesaving Club]. I was a surf boat rower and very competitive, and so just coming to Rotary just took up far too much time – until someone asked me to be International Service Director of the club.

So, I go home with my ‘joke book’ and Alison asked, “What happened tonight?” I said, “Nothing – there was someone up there talking about stuff I wasn’t interested in, but I’m going to be the International Service Director,” and she said, “What’s that?” I said, “I don’t know.”

Well, they gave us a book and at that stage, RAWCS (Rotary Australia World Community Service), the same as what’s here in New Zealand, they had all these pages of projects. I just thought: someone gives you the book and you picked a project out. So I picked a project called Sixteen Shelters in India, in a place called Paonta Sahib, which is virtually right in the middle of India.

At the next meeting I said, “I think we should do this project in India.” They said, “Okay, we’ll do that,” and passed it.

No one knew what a Matching Grant was – I didn’t even know what it was. We didn’t even know how to draft it and it was only the fourth matching grant in Queensland at the time. This was about the beginning of June 2000, and someone said to me, “Don’t worry about it, you won’t get it approved this year, wait and do it next year like first of July on.”

Now I hate people telling me what to do – especially telling me I can’t do something. So, I sent this document over to the Paonta Shaib DG in India and made fifty-four phone calls one after another. Ring-ring-ring, drop-out, ring-ring-ring, drop-out, ring-ring-ring, drop-out, answer, drop-out, fifty-four times until DG Arun Sharma,  answered the phone.

Arun was the District Governor 1999-2000 of Paonta Sahib District 3080 and I said, “Sign that paper and send it back.” We got it back, submitted it, got it approved by end of June, and that was a fantastic project.

I was happy with that, and then I heard that a lady had lost her life from one of the outer islands in Papua New Guinea, giving birth to a baby on the beach and couldn’t get it to the hospital – no ambulance.

I’d heard Queensland ambulance occasionally auction their ambulances – there’s nothing much wrong with them – so I sent them a letter and said, “Why auction it off to some fisherman to drive up the beach on Fraser Island? Give it back to us,” because our club at that stage had funded three ambulances for Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS). They said, “No. The ambulance is promised to a Federal member, Teresa Gambaro from Brisbane, that she’d get the ambulance to New Guinea,” virtually saying, ‘mind your own business, go away.’ So I rang them every two weeks for two years, saying, “How’s the ambulance going?” Same story, “Go away, Theresa Gambaro is going to do this.”

Then one day I got a call from QAS and they said, “What are we going to do with the ambulance?” I said, “What do you mean? Theresa Gambaro is doing it all,” and he said, ‘No, she can’t do it. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to auction it off and you could have the next one.”  I said, “No way, no, that’s mine, I want it. I can get it there next week.” He said, “Okay, you can have it then.” I though: Shit, how am I going to get this ambulance to New Guinea? I didn’t have a clue!

I went to the Federal member, Paul Neville, who was a member of our Bundaberg Rotary Club. He used to sit up at the desk and I’d be sitting back and by the time we finished talking, I’d be up at his desk and he’d be sitting back, and he said to me, “Is there an airport there where you want it to go in New Guinea?” I said, “Lae, it’s only 50 miles from Alotau”.

Now, I don’t know if anyone’s been to New Guinea, but 50 miles, I don’t know in the war how those soldiers even took a step through that bush – you couldn’t even walk off the road. Anyway, he said, “Okay, I’ll take it back to the Federal Government Defence Minister, I’ll see what I can do.”

A couple of days later, I’m at work and he rang me up and he said, “Lindsay, this has moved really quickly, you’re going to get a call from the Air Force today.” I was shaken, I’m thinking; Holy hell!

I went home, and the phone rings and it was a load-handler from RAAF Base at Williamtown and he said, “You’ve got an ambulance here to go to New Guinea?” I said, “Yep,” and thought: I didn’t have any ambulance! I said, “Yep, I’ve got it.”, and he said, “We’ll, come on and pick it up Monday [this is Thursday!]”. I said, “No worries, but hang on, you have to come to Bundaberg and get it because it’s in Bundaberg, it’s not in Brisbane. You’ve got to come here.” I said, “Okay, we’ll be in Bundaberg.”  Oh, I thought and hung up. [Bundaberg is 1,100km north of RAAF Base Williamtown which is 180km north of Sydney]

I picked up the phone and rang the QAS – the people who told me I couldn’t have the ambulance. I said, “That ambulance is going to New Guinea next week, Monday, we’re coming down Saturday to pick it up.” They said, “Oh, shit, we had a storm here last night, a tree fell over and broke the windscreen – we’ve got to get that fixed, and you’ll see the Ambassador of New Guinea – you’ve got to get some photos.” I said, “That’s okay, I’m coming to get it.” I drove down and got it and drove it back to Bundaberg.

There’s an associated story with this. At that time our last President, Sid Yates was in hospital. Being a bit blasé I went to the hospital and said, “I want him Sid at the airport Monday when this big C-130 [military transporter] arrives,” and they said, “He’s sick, he can’t come, but you go and ask him.”

So, I went in and said, “Sid, we’ve got your ambulance back, I want you to

come out the airport. Do you want to come?” He said, he “didn’t think anyone cared.” He started crying, and so did I.

So long story short, I talked the Ambulance crew into getting him out of hospital, and the RAAF load-handlers guided him through that plane. He died five days later.

Before the plane came, they rang me up and they said, “Oh we’ve got some news for you,” and I said, “I’ve got some news for you too,” because they didn’t know anything about the ABC reporter and they said, “Oh, we’ve had to change the nose on the plane and we’re going to be late.” [this was a special flight for the delivery of the ambulance]. I said, “That’s okay – and we’ve got an ABC reporter that wants to go with you, to cover the ambulance handover.” They said, “Oh yeah she can come, but we’re not bringing her back, we are flying on to Bougainville Island.” So, she couldn’t go and we had to come up with another plan.

As a result of that, Sid’s son, who was also called Sid [Jnr], was a manager of the Olympic Games squad from New Guinea, rang up and said, “You should come up and hand that ambulance over.” I never do things like that and then Alison said, “You should go, it’s just ridiculous, why don’t you do it?” So, I decided that we’d go, and I asked him to get me a quote. Sid [Jnr] got a quote from Air New Guinea, and he said, “I got you a good price, $1,200 return.” I thought: that didn’t sound cheap to me.

I wrote a letter to Air New Guinea and asked them to be part of the project, explain it all and got the fares for $350. I got up at our Rotary Club meeting, just like this, and said, “We’re going up to New Guinea and we’re taking a female ABC reporter Rachelle Loakes with us. She couldn’t go with the ambulance, but she can go with us.”

At that stage New Guinea didn’t like the ABC and I didn’t know that the reporter could come anyway, but I said to the club, “We’re taking her, and you guys are going to pay for her.” A club member, PDG John Kerr stated his legal firm would pay her fare and confirmed that would happen.

We flew up there to hand the ambulance over, but the real reason I wanted to go, was to look – as I’m always looking for projects. The hospital situation up there was just a shocker. In Australia we used to go out to the dump (as we all do to dump rubbish once upon a time), and there’d be lots of timber there. I had an idea that we could get the timber out of the dump and take it to the Salvation Army Depot in Bundaberg, where they run the Drug Rehabilitation make furniture and school desks– to give them something to do.

When I went up to New Guinea, I had an idea to send up containers of hospital and education equipment and bring back timber from areas of PNG so we could make desks and get this rotation going – making products in Bundaberg for PNG, send them there by container and filling the returned containers with timber and so on. There was a lot of corruption up there at that time, at all levels, and unfortunately the logistics, reliability and trust could not enable this to proceed.

Anyway, we shipped 28’x20’ sea containers of hospital and education equipment free of charge. We were the only Rotary Club in Queensland that got free rail freight from Townsville down to Bundaberg (1,000km) return. We had container trucks picking containers up, delivering them out to our site, free of charge.

In Bundaberg I asked local businessman, John Santaluchia, for the use of a really big shed – we could fit about 20 containers in there. He said, “How long do you want it for?”, I said, “Six months,” and he said, “Okay.” Six years later we still had that shed and it was still free and that was fantastic.

We delivered all this good hospital and medical stuff from Queensland – if you weren’t in Rotary you’d be writing letters to the editor. Things like, Bundaberg Base Hospital put in a new dishwasher at $140,000 who found out after three months use it couldn’t handle it, so they gave it to us and we sent it up and put it in Port Moresby Hospital.

In another hospital, the air filters in the operating rooms had been all rewired. They worked out they were going to go to the Mackay Hospital but couldn’t get them out. We had solicitors in our club, and I rang them up and said, “What are you guys doing this afternoon at five o’clock?” and they said, “Dunno,” and I said, “I do, get up to the hospital, we’re taking all the doors off.” We took all the air filters down there, got one into a lift downstairs, loaded them into my family’s pantec [furniture] truck, out to the storage shed, and they ended up in Port Moresby Hospital as well.

A huge amount of work and a lot of background stuff goes on to make these things happen. When I left the Bundaberg club I just said, “It’s just the KISS method, you would have heard it – Keep It Simple Stupid,” but no, too much effort was required by them and sadly that stopped after six months.

Back in India, the project I started was taking a fair while to complete, and I was in the building game and just couldn’t handle just how slow it went. It took over 12 months to complete [in 2000]. Alison and I decided that we’d go to India and participate in the National Immunization Day (NIDS) for polio where they immunize 160-million kids in one day – which was pretty awesome.

We were lucky enough to go with the World Health Organisation in the days after that and go through the slums to a place called Merrett, north of Delhi. It was a life changing experience – when we came out there, we were different people.

As a result of that Bundaberg Rotary club [2004/5] nominated me to Chair a committee of Past-presidents of another five clubs where we all decided to do a Centennial project to build a house which they wanted to raffle off. I said, “No way.” Alison and I were big time fundraisers, and I knew what we would be in for, and it wasn’t going to happen. I said, “No, not a raffle, you’d have to auction it off.”

So they made me the Chairman and I never saw them again, I just heard the feedback was, “It wouldn’t happen, it just couldn’t happen.” When I heard these Rotary presidents say it couldn’t happen, I was determined to make it happen.

I called a guy I knew on the way home; Dennis Ryan was his name. He used to do plans for a firm that I did work for, and I said, “I want a plan done of a four-bedroom house, double garage and I don’t want to pay for it.” He said, “Come in and sit down.” Well, that afternoon we named every single person that would work on that house for free – from woe to go, and that did happen.

We built that house in twelve months. I remember when we did the floor. The first day, we had eight competing concreters turn up to do the floor when only one had been invited, but eight turned up. That scale of giving went through the whole the whole house for over a year. Me and a mate, Ross Edwards, a Rotarian in the club worked on that house every weekend for a year.

We auctioned that house off and made $300,000 profit with the two main beneficiaries being Polio and ROMAC. It was ROMACS’s biggest donation they’d ever received. They had a lot of heavyweights at a thankyou dinner in appreciation, and the Australian government matched the polio donation one-for-one, I think was $150,000 max, so it was huge!

In 2006, Alison and I moved to Norfolk Island and I thought my Rotary days were over. There was a Rotary Club there and it took me a long time to join it because that was terrible club. When one of the women would speak, the guys would tell her to “Shut up” and say she didn’t know what she’s talking about. That’s not me, so I didn’t want to join, but I did hear the hospital needed hospital beds and they were doing a runway upgrade, and I knew people in Boral Industries and asked if they’d bring a sea container hospital beds over from Donations in Kind (DIK) Brisbane which they did, for nothing, and we replaced all those hospital beds in one fell swoop.

I did eventually join the Norfolk Rotary club [31 Dec 2006], then I couldn’t shut up regards the issues that needed to be fixed, (I can shut up when I need to) and there was lot of bloodletting and it had to be done and hopefully, I can say the club’s way, way better. What I can also say in the bloodletting, I didn’t stab anyone back, I told them what I thought to their face, and we ended up being good mates because of that.

I got the opportunity then to come down to the District 9910 Rotary Foundation meetings in Auckland, and I found that only the people sitting around the table at the meeting had the benefit of the Grants and that to me was wrong, so I knew I was going to change that.

In 2012-13, when I became 9910 District Governor, I did my rounds. I’d never been to Vanuatu and when I came back out of Vanuatu I said to our District Committee, “We’ve got a third world country in our district we’ve got to do something for them.” They told me it was a basket case and said, “If you want to do something for them, you do it yourself – you Chair it.” I said, “Yep, I will, and you can shove your money, I don’t want any of your money,” and they said, “Well what are you going to do for money?” I said, “You wait and see.”

Well, the story goes like this. When I came in as District Governor I said, “We’re going to do a Matching Grant for ROMAC, I don’t care how you do it, just do it.” We needed a partner, so we got a partner out of Korea. The Korea D3730, DG, was so impressed with the proposal they invited us up to do a District Sister Agreement and that’s what we still have in place.

I remember going up there, Keith Day was with me, Mrs Youngshin Watkins (from Takapuna Rotary) and Alison. We all sat out at the table and there was half a dozen of District 3730 members all dressed up with a suit and tie, as we did too.

We looked across the table didn’t even know if they could speak English, didn’t even know what we’re going to say, and D3730 The Rotary Foundation Chairman, looked across the table straight at me and said, “Sixty years ago you helped us fight a war – and now we’re ready to repay.” Every time I say it, I get goosebumps. I said, “Well we’re here to establish a relationship of trust where we can trust each other where we can work with each other and where we can do things for our communities,” and we walked out of there with a promise of USD 350,000.

This was for Rod Kessel’s Godden Memorial Hospital project and he nearly fell over when we came back. I said, “We got all your money,” and also to Peter Wilson from Rotary Whangaparaoa for the Napangasale High School Renovation Project in Tongoa, Vanuatu.

Since the Vanuatu project, our committee has remained small, and we only reach out to those when we want them or for advice or help. We really keep it small – it’s virtually Keith Day and me, and we’ve done probably over forty Global Grants and it’s been a wonderful experience.

There’s been a lot of a lot of times when you could walk away from this but when you look at those kids faces or those people’s faces that we’re trying to help you got to focus on that and then realise [be more determine] that no one will stand in our way.

In 2017 I was lucky enough to be appointed as a cadre for the Rotary Foundation where I drafted projects up. I’ve worked with a lot of Australian clubs who know very little about Global Grants because they have this other system, Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS). In 2022/23 RAWCS raised AUD $15.4m [-27.7% $21.3m 2021/22] for projects so they don’t need the Rotary Foundation funding, and so they know very little about what we do.

So where to now? We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. Keith Day, PDG Neil Murray, DRFC Grant Smith, Alison and I are going up to Vanuatu in a couple of weeks. We can’t hand over Rod’s Vanuatu project located in Enkul Village on Pentecost Island, because of the cyclone there. Where we’re going to stay is being blown away and they don’t have any food there now and so we put that on hold – but we do have to go up there.

Last Thursday we applied for a Disaster Grant to the Rotary Foundation. We got it approved Friday night and that was for US$25,000 to help that Enkul community in Pentecost where that project is [Cyclone Lola hit the island early hours 23 Oct 2023]. That’ll be supplying seed, rice, water, chainsaws, oil, petrol, that sort of thing to help those people recover.

We do have some exciting things happening in our world and we’ll keep you posted with that as they happen.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some great people from our district and I’d like to thank, especially this club, especially Rod Kessel, bloody annoying at some times, but shit, he’s got some good projects. We wish him the best of health, mate, we really do.

That’s about me, that’s been my journey,

Q&A session

Did you meet the Dalai Lama?

When we went to India, someone said to me, “Do you want to meet the Dalai Lama?” and I said, “Oh, I don’t care, whatever” because I’m focused on the Rotary, I don’t really care much about anything else. Anyway, they took us up to see him and only one person could have a camera. We got a photo of Alison and me with the Dalai Lama holding the Norfolk Island Rotary Club banner. Someone asked, “What’s the Dalai Lama like?” and I said, “Oh, just an old bloke with a crook back and a deep voice.”


What’s the latest with Regionalisation?

It’s a new model and a three-year pilot. The whole idea is where we’ve got 4 or 5-clubs in an area, the future model is they want those areas to be 25-clubs minimum. It can be 25, 35, 40 clubs, it doesn’t matter – but preferably 25. So, they’ve got to work out your club, all our clubs, all the clubs across Australia and New Zealand are going to work out who they want to clump with.

The second idea, which is an option, is that a club can also join a specific Focus Group and that could be from anywhere in Australia, New Zealand and it could be a focus on youth exchange, on projects or whatever, that’s an option.

They also had a vote for positions on the Regional Council which closed last Thursday. Only 56% of clubs voted but that’s those decisions have been made. I think that if you have only got 56% of clubs voting, it’s not a good look for Regionalisation, to me, but hopefully that will change, but that all depends on our clubs and our members.


What’s the premise behind it – is it to amalgamate, cut down the actual number of regions?

We’ve been talking about re-districting for quite a while and I think that many people saw lots of obstacles in the way especially like District 1020 didn’t want to do with us, and there’s probably others as well. There’s been a lot of re-districting in Australia. My former District, 9570, went from Maryborough to Mackay and out to Longreach. That district now goes from just north of Brisbane, right up north to the tip of Cape York and out west includes Darwin – that’s huge. Another redistricting is Western Australia which is one district now, so if you look at the map, that’s a big place.

I think the whole idea with Regionalisation was to stall re-districting and come up with another model. When you clump these 25-clubs they’re going to elect 100 Rotary leaders across Australia and New Zealand. That will get rid of all AGs – they will be new Rotary Leaders. Above them are the nine Council positions. So you’ve got Rotary clubs of 25 with a Rotary leader above them and then there’s these positions where you can liaise with to get help with membership, projects or whatever. It’s a three-year pilot.

I really want it to succeed but if it doesn’t, I think we are going to see a change in Districts. Eventually the District Governor rolls will go which will reduce costs but I really don’t think it’s going to change anything a Rotary club does. Clubs are autonomous, they’ll still do whatever they want to do as it’s up to them, but they’ll have a broader spectrum of people that they can call upon and hopefully that’ll be okay.

I was recently interviewed for a RI Director role and I went down there just to tell them what I thought about Rotary – I’m passionate about it so I wasn’t to have a sledge. But I figured if we keep going down the same road we’re going to keep going down the same road and I said to them if ever Rotary needs leaders they need it now. My expectation is people want something from a leader they want the leader to lead they don’t want a leader in name only and we have a lot of those people in Rotary that you know just want to be something and that’s all they want to do.

I see so many issues with Rotarians and Rotary clubs and the difficulties they’ve got to be involved with project and as their membership gets older. What I want from a leader is if I want to do a project somewhere and I haven’t got the money I want the leader find the money and that was the only reason why I wanted to be RI Director or be involved in the Regionalisation is, I wanted to have some sort of responsibility where I could walk in to the Prime Minister of Australia and say “That overseas funding, that aid that you’re given to Vanuatu you know it’s getting stolen. I know it is because we’re involved with projects up there and I know what’s happening with the projects and how the Vanuatu government can’t perform. So, I don’t want the $100m that they’re given them, I only want $500,000 but boy when we do the project for $500,000 and we’re accountable, transparent and we report then I want $1m then I want $2m, and we can do it faster, better and half the cost.

They’re places up there that have been hit with the cyclone five years ago and still the government don’t care because they’re corrupt and that’s reflective in probably five governments in five years.

Anyway that’s me, I’m just going to keep doing what we’re doing and fight hard for Rotary and our Rotary Club so yeah, thank you.


Can you tell us about the recent award you got?

Yeah, it was a bit of surprise to receive it at the Rotary Foundation Dinner on Saturday night. I think they also raised well over a million dollars for the Rotary Foundation and recognised a lot of people. I recognised Keith and Margaret Day for their contribution to the Foundation, many, many, many, many thousands of dollars along with a lot of other people there.

At the end of the night, they gave out an award called the Rotary Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest award in the world from the Rotary Foundation. There’s only 50 people in the world that get that each year and that was me – so that was pretty cool, yeah.


On behalf of the club, Barry Stafford thanked Lindsay coming as Guest Speaker.

Barry couldn’t imagine a more, fair dinkum Australian. surf lifesaving, a boatman, someone who speaks the same lingo as many Australians and who ranges around the Pacific and is successful because he follows the belief that if you don’t ask, you’re never going to find out.

Barry said our club shares with pride what Lindsay has done in the name of Rotary around the Pacific and in India. That we value the relationship our club has with him and how our club punches above its weight and we hope that will continue.

Barry finally thanked Lindsay for his frank assessment about what’s happening in Rotary today and to both him and Keith Day for keeping an eye on the Te Tai Tokerau Mental Health Wellbeing project up north which is largely attributable to Lindsay. We hope that’s going to be a success and to keep doing what they’re doing.

We need to take a few lessons away, and we will.

(6th Nov 2023)

BOOK FAIR 25-26th Nov

WANTED: BOOKS, CD’s, Jigsaws, Childrens Games
DROP OFFS from 13th November at:
             – College Rifles
             – Onehunga Community House
             (see flyers for drop off/collection details).
   25th Nov: 7-9am Earlybird $20 entry; 9am-5pm FREE entry
   26th Nov: 9am – 2pm FREE entry


Rod Kestle gave us an update on club member Phil Aish’s incredible work assisting with the cyclone Gabrielle recovery. He outlined how Phil was pivotal in the recent successful  ‘Tractor Trek’ in the Waikato during which he was hospitalised a number of times over past weeks. Despite his health issues Phil had a burning desire to help the victims of Gabrielle and offered the use of his three heavy duty tractors/excavators in the cleanup and remediation of property in the Hawkes Bay area along with his own labour. As a farmer he is only too fully aware of the anguish the farming community is currently going through.

Transportation of the machines necessitated a 600 kms trip via Fielding and a bill of $6,100 which was raised by Rod and a team of generous supporters.

Rod showed pictures of Phil driving a 20-tonne excavator on a farm repairing a washed out culvert, road and a river crossing which were preventing the local farmer from moving his stock.  He described the job as very challenging and at times ‘white knuckle’ stuff working on slippery and unstable land. Phil has indicated he is prepared to stay along with his machines for up to 6-months if necessary.

According to Rod,  Phil is working 6-days a week, and living in a caravan. Despite the long hours he is coping well, however Rod is concerned about Phil’s health and has asked the Stortford Lodge Rotary Club to keep a close watch on him. Likewise Rod feels our Club could support him in the form of ongoing communication which would be welcomed by Phil. While cell phone coverage is very good Rod urged members to support Phil by send him texts to which he would respond after finishing his days work.

Rod also asked if the Club could provide financial help to the tune of $6,000 to transport the machines home on completion of the job. Acting President Barry Stafford challenged Club members and proposed we top up the recent ‘Shades’ concert collection which raised $4,000 to a total of $12,000 and read out the following resolution:

‘That the Rotary Club of Maungakiekie at its meeting on 27 March , 2023

  1. Commend member Phil Aish for the initiative he ahs taken to assist directly with storm and flood relief in Hawkes Bay in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Stortford Lodge, and
  2. Request the Trustees of the Club ‘s Charitable Trust to set aside $12,000 as a storm and flood relief fund to provide relief as Phil requires.

The resolution was seconded and passed by acclamation by members present.

In the ensuing discussion the Trustee said it was important we signal to Phil our support for him, and that the Trust fund has sufficient funds in hand to cover the $12,000. It was suggested in the circumstances we should also provide a personal location beacon as a safety function.


Barry introduced the three 17-yr old students who are in their final year at High School. The original five applicants were interviewed by club members George Arulanantham, Derek Neutze, Bill Grayson and Barry Stafford. The final three, here tonight, were selected by the Forum Administrator and his team. The club part funded each student with a $1,500 donation that went towards the $2,195 two-week course fee for accommodation and meals.

All three thanked the club very much for sponsoring them and related their experiences to club members. After their speeches, Barry presented each student with a copy of the book Onehunga’s Changing Foreshore written by Stephen Lasham and sponsored by our club.

 A summary of the student presentation follows:

Katrice didn’t know what to expect from the two-weeks and was a little apprehensive but said it did sounded like a good opportunity to learn something.

She said she felt well at ease during the interview with club members who “saw me as an individual”. Looking forward to her first day at Uni, Katrice found she was the first to arrive.

Three years ago, the thought of going to Uni was scary but during the course was sparked by a willingness to learn. Initially, Katrice said, that while she felt outside of her comfort zone, she did feel comfortable nonetheless and for the fist time felt she “was enough”. Katrice said she learnt it is OK to fail whereas before she was afraid of failure and now is willing to challenge herself more..

Katrice introduced club members to a word association game. The word was “blood” and over 2-minutes members had to write down the sequence of images the word bought to mind. Three members were asked what they wrote:

  • Barry: Blood (5-6 words) blood banks
  • ??: Blood …… nurse
  • Noel: Blood …… survive
  • (Ed): Blood …… many colours

Everyone came up with a difference sequence of words and the lesson learnt being “everyone thinks differently”.

 Katrice added some more lessons she learnt:

  1. Nobody can define what you can and can’t do.
  2. It isn’t a question of whether you can or can’t do it, but whether you’re willing to put in the work, be brave enough to overcome adversity and resilient enough to block out the voices that say you can’t.
  3. When you find joy in something, never let it go.


Natasha has a curious nature and a thirst for knowledge and enjoys maths and science.

She’d love to be the first person to cure cancer or invent a robot that can perform heart surgery so people can get the absolute most out of life.

At the start of the Uni course students were formed into teams where a lot of bonding occurred especially during the volleyball competitions.

Natasha learned not to put too much pressure on herself.  She really enjoyed the lectures on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and during the chemistry lecture she learnt one only really learns from doing things wrong then correcting them. Other activities the did ranged from lifting finger prints, obtaining DNA from fruit, to participating in a “Dragon’s Den” where their team had to come up with a concept to increase the Auckland city speed limit to 60-70km/hr – considered the most fuel efficient speed for a motor car. They also made cottage cheese which they had to consume and got to look close up at bacteria. Unfortunately (and fortunately) on the final day Natasha caught COVID.

Natasha found she gained a much better idea of the direction she wants her studies to go and paid special tribute to the Post Grad students there who were very good and made everything that much more interesting.


Kaydence from the “Blue Team” said, “During my school studies, I found that very few students studied both Psychology and Statistics, and even fewer were of Pacific descent. This alone was enough motivation for me to contribute to the growing representation of Pacific students, and to open opportunities to support Pacific communities in my chosen fields.”


During the course they all had to get up at 5 a.m. for the morning fitness programme which came as a bit of a shock to many as they were pushed to complete the courses.


University was not what Kaydence was expecting and sitting in on lectures was very eye opening. The Advisors there were very energetic, supportive, and provided much encouragement.


Kaydence initially didn’t have much interested in biology or AI technology but during the two weeks became much more aware of each subject and was amazed at how much the world already uses AI today.

State of the Nation Charity Dinner – Report

Craig Jones came up with the original idea after approaching David Seymour, Member for Epsom, ACT Party, at a fair one year.

Craig asked David if as ACT Party Leader he would consider delivering his annual State of the Nation speech at a Rotary Charity Dinner event – as a Guest Speaker. David agreed and the rest is history.

This year’s event took place on 23rd Feb at the Sorrento in The Park, One Tree Hill. There were 109 guests and was a great start and with more publicity has potential to grow.

A great night was had by all and was topped off with a successful Auction then followed by an informative Q&A session.

Craig wanted to extend his thanks to Barry “a most able MC for the night”, Gary for handling the admin and “putting up with countless calls from me”. Bruce on accounts, Tony for coming up with our graphics, Paul for erecting the banners and Club Members Craig badgered into coming along with mates to fill tables.

David has committed to the next two years and the club is already looking forward to a bigger and brighter occasion next year.

2023 Feelings for Life Tractor Trek

Rod Kestle introduced fellow member Phil Aish who has been a neighbour for 41-years. Rod shared a particular story involving a noisy bull parked overnight in a trailer outside Phil’s place in their residential area that led to a complaint to the Police who stated “you can’t park that here”. The ever-resourceful Phil promised to sort it out and snuck the bull into nearby Cornwall Park, with no one any the wiser.

Both Rod and Phil are committed Christians and have worked together on many projects including Vanuatu.

Phil recapped on his association with Tractor Treks which started back in February 2018. (For a recap on Phil’s background please refer to Newsletter No.100 11 July 2022 – Ed)

This the Trek visited 22-schools in the Waikato district and had a good amount of publicity aided by David Hume who has a Journalistic background and had Cat appear on a Morning radio show.

While tractors were the main point of interest even to rural kids Phil’s Humee also attracted attention where on one occasion 32-kids managed to jam themselves in. Along the way they stopped and spoke at Rotary Clubs and took every opportunity to promote the cause (Childrens Mental Health and Wellbeing) and promote the Rotary organisation.

Every tractor had a Rotary sign on the front with the drivers wearing the familiar bright green hi-vis Feelings for Life jackets.

The weather was bad at times but didn’t deter the Deputy Mayor of Cambridge turning up along with drenched kids who still enjoyed the day.

Rod said, Cat drove her tractor in the morning and he it in the afternoon. Along the way they met a man who said his son committed suicide at 45-yrs just showing that mental health can happen at any age.

Rod emphasised Members need to get behind Cat and continue to support her as much as we can.


Cat wanted to share the 3-important stats relating to Child mental wellbeing in NZ and each of which has personally impacted Cat personally.

  1. 1-in-4 children will experience mental health issues before they’re 18-yrs
  2. 50% of mental health issues start at the age of 12-yrs
  3. 15 young people are hospitalised with self-harm every day in NZ


Cat has already trained 250-teachers and spoken to over 5,500-children this year already and will shortly be visiting 16-schools in Northland in March & April this year as part of The Rotary Foundation sponsored Te Tai Tokerau Tamariki Mental Wellbeing Project (launched this week on 3rd March 2023 at the Mania View School, Whangārei).

Part of the planning of the Waikato Tractor Trek involved the local Rotary Clubs contacting their local schools and booking a time for Cat to visit them.


Cat is having an impact on schools who are now including Cat’s course material alongside the Ministry of Education Positive Behaviour for Learning scheme (PB4L). Find out more about PB4L here:


Next year’s Tractor Trek planning is already underway which will be in Papamoa, Western Bay of Plenty.


Gary thanked Phil, Cat and Rod and commented on how many things Phil has achieved in his 76-yrs and more recent years.

Au revoir Principal Deidre Shea

Barry Stafford presented Deidre Shea a gift from the club and who later this week will be retiring after 30-years at Onehunga High School (OHS) – 15-years as Principal.

On Friday Deidre will be handing over to Ms Shameen Hayat who in earlier years  spent time at OHS as a Teacher Trainee.

Barry highlighted how very fortunate our club was to have Deidre as a member and for club members to have be invited bi-annually to OHS for dinner meetings.

Barry also recognised Club member Ernie Meyer for his ongoing involvement at the school providing Operational Support for the Building and Construction Dept., whose students assist with the build of a 4-bedroom house each year for Habitat for Humanity.

It was noted Deidre assisted Bill Greyson in getting students into The Rotary National Science & Technology Forum to be held at the Auckland University 7-21 January 2023.

Members and Barry stood and wished Deidre all the very best with a resounding round of applause.

Deidre responded thanking the club in return, saying “the difference the club has made to the school is awe inspiring”. She loved her job and will be moving into some part-time rolls both here and in government.

Principal Hayat will be joining the club soon as she has settled in, which we all look forward to.

Onehunga Christmas Parade 2022

The Christmas Parade on 3rd December was attended by club members Cat Levine and dad Phil Aish who drove his candy-ised Humvee while club members assisted with crowd control.

The monsta Humvee was decked out with Christmas bling and signs promoting our Club and the Feelings For Life Tractor Trek 2023 due to kick off in the Waikato on the 12th February. The Trek raises funds to make the video resources for Children’s Mental Health education in schools which is an element in the delivery of Cat’s Rotary Foundation sponsored Te Tai Tokerau Mental Wellbeing Northland Project which kicks off at the Manaia View School, Raumanga, Whangarei on the 3rd March 2023.

ROTARY BOOK FAIR: 26-27 Nov 2022

The Club had an overwhelming response from the public who donated around 20,0000 books that filled 624-boxes.  A very wide range of reading material was received along with CDs and kids games.

The most popular genres were: Fiction (54% of all books), History, Biography, Non-fiction, Children’s, Sport, NZ, Art, Gardening. Net takings was over $12,000, up 3% from 2021 which will go directly into the community project Trust Account.

Early on Saturday, Book Buyers were lined up ready for the $20 Early bird session. The intermittent rain didn’t fail to dampen the public buying spirit that followed evidenced by the arm loads of fiction and banana-box-bargains.

The Kid’s Yellow Digger was ‘sold’ to a very generous lady who placed a last minute bid of $100.

A big thank you to the Team of 40 who contributed their time (and sore backs) hauling, stacking, sorting books for the weeks leading up to the event; the ladies who provided the baking supplies that kept the troops going for the two days; to Reido, Gwynyth,  Lloyd, Bruce, Noel, Phil, Tiki, Peter M, and Barry. Not forgetting Rhett and his van and Johnny Tapu’s lads who magic’d away a good selection of remaining books that will be destined for the Pacific; to The Alford Family Trust; Matt and Sarah for their trailer; Paul for organising the tables; Tony and the Board of the Community House for putting up with us disrupting their wonderful facility.

Bill and Barry have made the executive decision of booking the facility to do it all again same time, same place, next year!

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