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Good News Stories / December 2, 2021

Rowers take part in fundraiser

Aquinas College rowers Mia Finlayson, Harrison McGregor, Kate Finlay and Georgiana Powell.

Kiwifruit work a money-spinner to keep afloat rowers’ regatta bid

Tauranga rowers kept afloat their bid to attend a prestigious regatta by taking part in a novel money-spinner which doubled as a fundraiser for the city’s foodbank.

Students and parents from Aquinas College all pulled together by signing up for a day’s paid work on a kiwifruit orchard. It means the money they earned will go towards covering the cost of sending a team to the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships.

They were the first group to participate in the new community initiative, which gives participants a taster of the kiwifruit industry while also helping towards addressing a dire shortage of local seasonal labour.

Their sterling efforts in the orchard also provided a cash injection for the Tauranga Community Food Bank.

The weekend work programme is the brainchild of Luciano Garcia, a kiwifruit contracting company boss who has pledged to donate an additional $1 per hour worked per person to a local charity.

The effects of the Covid-19 crisis had taken heavy toll on the availability of fundraising opportunities, a main source of additional income for many local sports teams, says Anna Powell, an Aquinas College parent.

“It’s been near impossible to raise funds because of the Covid situation. This is literally the first one we’ve been able to do because other events have been cancelled.

“We are really having to think outside the box to fundraise. This situation is affecting many sporting codes.”

She said the kiwifruit experience had been an overwhelming success. The day had been fun and had proved to be an excellent fundraiser with a good return for the time spent.

The Aquinas College team put in a full day’s work at the Te Puke orchard, where they were tasked with fruit thinning, a job essential to the success of next season’s harvest.

Site supervisor Caio Siebel was impressed with how quickly team members rose to the challenge. They were on the job at 8 am and quick to understand the task in hand, he said. “They are smart people and they got the hang of it straight away.”

“I’m super pleased and I just wish they could come back again. There were awesome. If we had people like this every day the job would be a breeze.

“We have many different jobs to do on the orchard and at times we are struggling because we don’t have enough workers.”

Parent Steve McGregor said apart from raising money, the experience had other benefits for the youngsters taking part. “It’s really good for our kids to come out here and appreciate what a hard day’s work is all about.

“We’re a Catholic school and we believe in being part of the community and giving back. It’s good that we’re helping the foodbank as well as helping the kids get to the Maadi Cup regatta.”

Aquinas rowing coach Steven Finlayson said the experience had undoubtedly helped strengthen the team. “It shows loyalty to each other, to the team and to the school. It’s integral as part of our culture within Aquinas rowing.

“Like rowing, everyone is pulling together in the same direction. The parents are getting stuck in too and it really bonds people.”

If you have a group and you are keen to earn some extra money for yourselves or your organisation and help our community at the same time, go to: https://garciacontracting.co.nz/good-cause/

Supervisor Caio Siebel, left, explains about fruit thinning. Looking on are Steve McGregor and Aquinas College rowing coach Steven Finlayson.