Editorial: All in the best possible taste

They say that in small New Zealand centres everyone knows everyone else's business. More or less.

So maybe it's just for the sake of completion that calendars featuring nude locals are proving pretty good fundraising options.

Most recently it's the Midlands rugby lads who are baring their midriffs, and then some, with virtuous intent.

More cheeky than salacious, these calendars have proven good-humoured affairs; capable of raising healthy doses of mirth as well as funds.

Admiration too, we guess, if only for the willingness of the pantless participants to mortify their own sense of modesty.

In recent years we've seen as much as we might care to see of Bluff fishermen in the buff to raise funds to save their community pool, and Tuatapere folk doing likewise to upgrade theirs.

On top of which, Southland and Otago Young Farmers, the Inner Wheel of Invercargill North, sundry Wanaka identities, and even the nation's shearing champions, including Winton's Darin Forde and Invercargill's Nathan Stratford, have shed their woollies for the greater good.

The nearest to real controversy came when the Queenstown-based MedRecruit's calendar of male doctors was met with a thanks-but-no-thanks response from the original recipient charity KidsCan - though the Prostate Foundation happily put its hand up instead.

The Bluffies, meanwhile, found a successful-enough spinoff by getting involved in an even more up-close-and-personal exercise, with a "Name Bluff Butts" competition inviting entrants to identify locals by backsides which weren't necessarily, their best sides.

Aesthetically speaking, the results have tended to be models of happiness and health, without quite muscling in to the standard beefcake or cheesecake genres. If some are just a tad awkward, that's perhaps endearing. Disconcertingly pale, arguably, but that's only honest.

The other cautionary note we'd sound about this whole exercise is that everyone needs to realise the prospects of these calendars one day being among the most popular exhibits in regional museums, district history publications and good old folklore.

So the participants, and their future generations, are liable to have to live with the consequences for a long time. These photos will in some cases be there to be enjoyed, or otherwise, by children, grandchildren and many a subsequent generation.

There are more delicate ways to raise money. But undertaken with care - not only in the photography itself, but also in the absence of undue pressure on locals to participate - and promoted with just a degree of caution, these calendars can be enjoyed as simply examples of hard-case heartland invention.

And at least it makes a change from the host of calendars devoted to picturesque southern vistas of backlit sheep, prominent buildings, cats, puppies and all things floral.

The Southland Times