Each summer the TSB Festival of Lights transforms Pukekura Park (one of New Zealand's premier botanical gardens) into a magical, illuminated wonderland of multi-coloured lights gleaming amongst the trees. Our New Plymouth staff are lucky to be able to attend the festival - along with at least 100,000 others each year.
It runs for seven weeks and there are events for everyone in the family. It's a great excuse to grab a picnic and meet with friends to catch some live music on those lovely summer nights.
That's why we're excited to announce that Tamarind will be sponsoring the Fred Parker Lawn Stage this year! It's a great chance to get behind an incredible local event put on by the New Plymouth District Council and we're pleased to have the opportunity to support it. We'll be helping to showcase emerging and established artists with more intimate performances, in a beautiful outdoor setting. The stage will also include some outside of the box ideas (more on this to come).
The Festival of Lights is a staple in New Plymouth's summertime events calendar and includes:
Rahotu School is committed to giving their students opportunities outside of the classroom. This involves connecting and working within their immediate school environment as well as the wider community. A key focus is connecting to the whenua (land) in which they live and play.
They have established gardens where the students work alongside highly-skilled Teacher Aides to harvest and food the whole school twice a term. This year they have been working hard to design, prepare and plant an orchard along the school's western boundary. Tamarind has been supporting the Teacher Aide's salary as well as some of the plants required for the project.
A few of our staff joined in the planting of the boundary trees this month and look forward to seeing the rest of the orchard evolve as each phase is complete. Once it's set up, each family will be invited to plant a fruit tree when their child enrols at Rahotu School.
Thanks to the School Principal, Brigitte Luke, for the chance to be involved!
One of the projects our sponsorship funds supported this year is On the House. They are a New Plymouth-based organisation that redistributes surplus food in the community. They are run completely by volunteers at this stage. We provided kickstart funding to help them get up and running as they are a fairly new organisation, having only started their project in November 2017.
Each week on their open day, their volunteers collect excess food from local cafes and eateries and bring it back to their centrally-located (and kindly-donated) distribution space. The collections are done on foot in the CBD and by car in the outer suburbs. From 4:30pm, the food is given, free of charge, to anyone who has patiently lined up to receive it.
This initiative has benefits on a couple fronts - it reduces the amount of perfectly-good food going in the rubbish bin, and it provides meals to those in the community who need it. There are no forms to fill out or questions to answer - one of their foundation values is about distribution without barriers. It doesn't matter if those who access the service are on the benefit, or earning income because ultimately this food was going to be wasted if it wasn't for On the House.
There are several organisations like this in operation throughout New Zealand with the long-running ones based in Wellington (The Free Store) and Palmerston North (Just Zilch). They are all working hard to create communities for people who might otherwise be treated as a "problem to fix."
We're excited that we were able to help get this project off the ground and already they have seen their average weekly numbers grow from the low 20's to nearly 50 people accessing the service each week. And they are saving 200-500 food items each week from the rubbish bin.
If you want to volunteer or make a donation to this community project, check them out on Facebook.
As part of our current community investment programme, we have funded the building of a 'GymCave' at Taranaki Retreat. The Retreat opened in 2017 to provide a community sanctuary for people who need some time out when times are tough. They support people who are going through a traumatic time or are at risk of suicide. Guests stay at their rural lodge at no cost and the focus of the stay is on wellness of body, mind and spirit.
The 2.5 acre property consists of a lodge building where guests stay, a chapel building for quiet reflection, and the family home of the people behind the facility, Jamie and Suzy Allen. Their home doubles as the dining room too, seeing all guests share a meal each night at their large wooden table.
With Taranaki weather holding quite a bit of rain and wind throughout the year, they found that when it rained, guests didn't have enough space to make the most of their stay. Jamie had plans for another multi-purpose building that would allow additional indoor activities and Tamarind supported the project, which meant they didn't need to do additional fundraising to make it happen.
The retreat received queries from more than 1000 people during the first 10 months of operation. They have created a model that is getting notice from other regions who are trying to tackle the difficult issue of suicide. In addition, Jamie was named as the Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year for 2017 due to his efforts with the Taranaki Retreat. The journey of the Retreat has been supported by the Taranaki community along the way and Jamie is the first to point out that the whole community deserves recognition for contributing so readily to the initiative.
The GymCave is complete with exercise equipment, space and supplies for creating art or building things. It allows the team at the Retreat to continue developing their facility so that they can keep doing the impactful work they do. Tamarind is pleased to be able to support their hard work. If you would like to help them in any way, check out their website for more information.
Helping families in some of the most stressful times of their lives is at the core of the From Hardship to Hope Kids Health Fund. The fund is run by the Taranaki Health Foundation and Tamarind recently became the major sponsor of this initiative.
This new emergency fund has been developed to aid patients and families who are experiencing financial hardship because of acute medical journeys they face. There is a genuine need to support Taranaki families who for no fault of their own find themselves under enormous pressure and stress because their family members are seriously ill.
Examples of the additional stress families find themselves under when their kids are sick includes: parents having to take leave without pay, working families who have little or no contingency funds if an acute illness occurs, rural families who need help with travel costs to and from hospitals, increased childcare costs (for siblings), patients who require out of town care (especially mothers requiring antenatal hospitalisation) and many others.
The New Zealand team has been involved with previous Taranaki Health Foundation projects such as the Mobility Garden and the 'We Heart Taranaki' Campaign. So, it was a great fit to continue our relationship by supporting From Hardship to Hope.
The fund not only supports families with petrol and food costs during times of illness, but it also supports safe sleeping for babies by supplying life-saving Pēpi Pods to at-risk families. A portion of the fund also goes towards small projects in the child/maternal health wards of the hospital that benefit children who are accessing these services.
We are happy to be supporting an initiative that touches so many families in the region. Read more about our involvement with the Taranaki Health Foundation here. And if you'd like to contribute to any of the projects run by the Taranaki Health Foundation, visit their website to learn more about them.
Can your children swim 200 metres continuously? Would you be confident doing the same? Year Six students in New Plymouth have access to practical water safety education thanks to Tamarind's sponsorship of the water safety programme.
Partnering with the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), the programme aims to get every primary and intermediate child learning basic water safety skills and swimming skills in the water. It includes modules in the classroom, at the pool and at the beach, and is offered to schools at no cost. Children will work on kicking, stroking, floating, gliding, breath control, water confidence, water safety and survival techniques. Our support of this program has been in place for over seven years.
There are approximately 1,000 year six students in the district who will have a chance to take part in the training programme. Our New Plymouth office recently received letters of thanks from Oakura School students taking part in the program. We wanted to share them as we appreciate that they took the time to send them to us. Living in New Zealand, where many of our cities are located on or near bodies of water, it's important that everyone has a basic level of confidence around the water. We're proud to support this programme to ensure that children in New Plymouth are part of those who feel confident with their skills in the water.