Southern head recalls first 40 Hour Famine

19:58, May 22 2014
trevor mckinlay
WESTERNER'S 'SOFT': Northern Southland College principal Trevor McKinlay reflects on the time he spent working on the 40 Hour Famine when it first began 40 years ago.

In 1975, Trevor McKinlay was dashing around Auckland with a film projector trying to explain famine to Kiwis.

McKinlay, who led the first World Vision 40 Hour Famine in the country, says famine is hard to understand.

"We're soft, we westerners, our bodies don't know how to starve, and we don't fast like some cultures do ... we're used to having plenty of tucker," he said.

McKinlay has a glint in his eye and a passionate presence that does not fit his 67 years. He is no stranger to poverty and worked overseas in Third World countries.

A driving memory is when the 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck in Peru in 2007. "I ran the school like an aid agency ... we had parents and students helping people, doing the rebuild," he said.

As well as Peru, he has worked in Samoa.


"I saw relative poverty there, which gave me the notion [of working with World Vision]."

When recalling the first 40-hour famine, he could not remember how many people took part but they raised about $250,000.

As for barley sugars, McKinlay said they were there from the beginning.

"Our medical adviser ... told us that people needed to keep their blood sugar levels up," he said.

McKinlay, who is the principal of Northern Southland College, in Lumsden, has sponsored many of his students for this year's famine.

"They're going to find out about the world, about poverty, in the space of 40 hours, and they're going to do it here in little old Lumsden."

They will learn the same lessons he tried to teach high school kids in Auckland 40 years ago.

"It [the famine] is a combination of a wonderful idea that makes the participants realise what real hunger feels like, alongside the most tried and tested fundraising strategy, which is sponsorship," McKinlay said.

The 40 Hour Famine starts at 8pm today and ends at noon on Sunday.

The Southland Times