Siblings on course to boost charity

00:58, Apr 22 2014
Gargiulo family
HARD YARDS: From leftntsG to right:Jessie Fa’avae, aged 11, Tide Fa’avae, 7, and Zefa Fa’avae, 9 practice their kayaking skills in the Matukituki Valley last year in advance of their Purple Cake Day fundraising paddle

Three young children are on track to paddle the length of the Abel Tasman National Park to raise money for children's education in Nepal, Kenya, Haitai and New Zealand.

Jessie, 11, Zefa, 9, and Tide Fa'avae, 7, are braving the elements over the blustery school holidays to raise money for Purple Cake Day, a Nelson-based volunteer-run charity event supporting children worldwide to receive the education they need to break the poverty cycle. They are due to finish their three-day, 40km paddle today at Marahau.

They were to have started paddling last week but rough seas delayed their plans. They got started from Wainui Bay on Sunday but found the weather too rough and paddled to Anapai Bay, north of Totaranui to spend the night, said their mother Jodie Fa'avae.

"It doesn't matter about the rain but the sea conditions are too rough at the moment," she said.

Monday was a big day for the young paddlers, they reported from the trip in an email. "Shag Harbour was really cool with baby seals . . . our arms feel like they are going to drop off . . . mum and dad helped a little bit, all good."

The trio from Kina began their Purple Cake Day fundraising by doing a sponsored ride of the 140km Otago Central Rail Trail last year. They started with a goal of $500, met that quickly and upped it to $1000 and then $3000. They ended up raising $3200.


"That was, like, far out! We thought this year we'd try for $1000 and we got that quite quickly," said Fa'avae.

Because the fundraising website they are using, Give a Little, does not allow them to change the target, Fa'avae is concerned that people have stopped donating. The project got a good boost in attention when the kayaking for kids story appeared on television news last Wednesday.

As the children of adventure race organisers Jodie and Nathan Fa'avae, the children are no strangers to adventure or kayaks but the difference on this trip is that they are doing all the paddling. Fa'avae said she expected the trip would take them three days, the same as most tourists. Their parents are paddling single kayaks alongside them.

"We always like to do family adventures but the kids take a lot more ownership when they are the ones raising the money. It's kids helping kids and they take a lot more responsibility," said Fa'avae.

"It's much more than an adventure. The sense of achievement is really satisfying for them. We talk to them about kids elsewhere in the world who don't have money for food or education. It's good to put things in perspective about how lucky we are to live in New Zealand."

To donate to their effort, go to