Sunrise celebrates 25th anniversary

Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise members at Marseppa School in South Africa in 2007, getting running water piped from two kilometres away. Photo: Supplied.

The Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise is celebrating 25 years of helping not only the local community but many communities around the world.

Chartered in 1997, the club first met at the old Tauranga Club on Devonport Rd. The breakfast meetings continue, starting about 6.45am with members on their way by 8am.

The club’s first international project was supporting Ben San leper colony in Vietnam. Working with a local doctor and a grant from Rotary International, the club provided hands-on training, with several members visiting and Sally Morrison, a former nurse and club member, teaching the colony’s nurses how to care for the patients. The club also provided solar hot water heating.

A successful collaboration in 2007 with the East London Rotary club resulted in water being piped from a natural spring to a South African primary school about 2km  away. The school, Marseppa in the Transkei, had 600 students and no running water.

Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise support ROMAC, a humanitarian Rotary programme which provides surgical treatment for children from developing countries from the Pacific region in Australia and New Zealand. The club’s last student, Vinna from Vanuatu, spent many months here having successful surgery after being born with a seriously deformed lower leg and foot.

Other ongoing Vanuatu projects include Threads across the Pacific, where the club provides sewing machines and material; and the Books for Vanuatu -Library Book project; where the club collects surplus or unwanted books form Tauranga schools and sends them to schools in the islands.

“Most of their own school libraries were demolished recently by a major cyclone and they lost almost all their books,” says club member Michele Beaton.

Each year the club raises funds towards ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity. Each ShelterBox contains a large quality family tent, cooking equipment and other essential items required after a disaster such as an earthquake or cyclone. They are stored in key locations around the globe and can be deployed very quickly.

“Our most recent ShelterBox purchase is being used to help refugees in Ukraine,” says past club president Lynda Burch.

In 2005, Rotary International celebrated its 100th birthday. To mark the occasion, Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise joined with other Tauranga Rotary clubs to form the Kopurererua Valley Rotary Centennial Trust. Working arm in arm with Tauranga City Council, the trust raises funds and organises tree planting and ongoing pest control, more recently engaging the support and involvement of local secondary students.

Their latest environmental project, Sea Guardian drain socks installed on the Tauranga waterfront, helps stop rubbish and large pollutant debris entering the harbour.

The club is also very active in many areas from providing marshals for sports events, to collecting for the Heart Foundation and assisting with the Foodbank Christmas appeal.

“Books in Homes, a concept started by Alan Duff of ‘Once were Warriors’ was well-supported by our club where we worked closely with Matapihi school to ensure every student had books at home,” says member Simon Beaton.

A focus on youth projects within the club is strong, with support given to the Graham Dingle Foundation and the Kiwi Can programme for many years in the Western BOP.

The Rotary Youth Programme of Enrichment – RYPEN, is funded by all Tauranga Rotary clubs and organised and run by Rotary Club of Tauranga Sunrise. RYPEN is a camp at Ngamuwahine during a long weekend for Year 11-12 students, using lectures and adventure activities to develop student’s potential.

The 2021/2022 club president Chris Dever is incredibly proud to be following in the footsteps of 25 great club leaders.  “My challenge for this year is to leave the club in a position where it is appealing to younger members.  It is through these younger members that the club will continue to thrive.”

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