Camilla Brotherton, Cara Tahapehi, Leigh Niwa, Heather Windsor, Ingrid Malifa, Tony Wood, Scott Niwa, Glendale Rangihaeta and Mana Tahapehi in native birds and men costumes. Photo Lauretta Goode

Community groups and volunteers are the glue that holds this island together, plugging social, environmental, sporting and educational gaps.

They exist often on a shoestring and generally answer needs with little fanfare.
This week’s Gulf News recognises their endeavours. Many have something to celebrate, having secured money from the latest local board funding round, from the Government, from businesses or from locals who turn up to fundraisers and show their generosity in other ways. Hats off also to the parents who supported fundraisers at our four schools this past week – any excuse to dress up. And to their children for getting creative, practising and performing.

Fundraising is often the hardest part – particularly for those who work in less glamorous fields such as social services.

One such group, Living Without Violence Waiheke, has double reason to celebrate this week. Not only was it granted money towards rental and operational costs by the local board. It has also received the most ‘votes’ from Waihekeans in Z Energy’s annual Good
in the Hood fundraiser, to be presented tomorrow. This sign of appreciation comes as a surprise to the agency, which normally struggles with traditional ‘open bucket’ or cake-stall fundraising.

Our stories suggest Waihekeans care across the board – digging hands into wallets for Waiheke Primary School’s kitchen and Te Huruhi Primary’s bilingual unit, or just digging for McKenzie Reserve.

Demand for funds will always exceed supply. The local board found $100,000 to distribute in its latest ‘community response’ budget round. Applications totalled $343,371.
Inevitably, tough calls were made by the five-member board. Our stories focus on some of the initiatives to receive grants this time around.

Luckily, other sources of funding and community support are out there. Waiheke Rotary’s big drive this year is to ensure that defibrillators – used to restart the heart following cardiac arrest – are spread around the island and available when needed. The units cost around $4000 each. But already, about 20 organisations and individuals have signed-up.

Acknowledgement is due, too, to Fullers – much criticised at times over ferry and bus service problems. The company is the major sponsor of events and sports teams on the island. Now, it has come to the rescue of a planned Festival of Football in September, an event which aims to inspire our young footballers while entertaining fans by bringing the country’s two best teams to Waiheke.

This fast growing island has its issues and is far from perfect, but it has a strong and caring community, as this edition highlights. • Geoff Cumming

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