OPINION: Two disparate groups of Taranaki youngsters featured in yesterday's Taranaki Daily News.
On the front page were the four Francis Douglas Memorial College students who need $32,000 to represent New Zealand at the Future Problem Solving World Championships in Iowa, United States in June. On page five there was an article about the contestants in this year's Miss Taranaki competition. As part of this year's competition they are fund-raising for charity.
The boys are to be applauded for their success and our best wishes go with them. In their own ways, the articles do raise a problem that many groups and individuals face these days - how to raise funds to allow ventures that otherwise would not be able to take place, to go ahead.
Taranaki is blessed in that it has some significant community funders in its midst. The TSB Community Trust is the most high profile and many a group has good reason to be grateful to those wise heads who withstood enormous pressure from the government in the 1980s to insist on the TSB Bank retaining its own identity and independence.
It has poured millions of dollars into the region for a variety of good works. Often it goes unnoticed, but Taranaki's communities would be far worse off without their generosity.
Close behind them as a benefactor is the Taranaki Electricity Trust. The Stratford-based trust also dispenses millions of dollars a year for a wide variety of projects and causes. Add in the Lottery Grants Board, the various trusts which distribute poker machine money and the three district councils, among others, and it is plain to see how much money is available for good works.
The problem is, as the two stories illustrate, there is never enough. Demand for funds will always exceed supply, which takes us back to the nub of the issue.
Miss Taranaki organiser Lois Finderup is no stranger to pageants or raising funds for worthy causes.
For years she has been to the forefront of both and her initiative to adopt the theme "Beauty With a Purpose" has given contestants a new-found awareness of the charities they support as part of the pageant. It also adds a new element to the competition. Beauty may be skin deep, but without a commitment to "give good to the community" as Mrs Finderup insists, a win is unlikely.
The four Francis Douglas students face a mammoth task to raise the $32,000 they need for the privilege of representing their country in the US.
No doubt the parents will be dipping into their own pockets for some of the money, but these young students would be worthy ambassadors for our region. It would be nice to think one of the many energy companies which solved the problem of how to profitably extract oil or gas from Taranaki would be able to help.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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