Step Up video project featuring John Key ends asset rich but cash poor video

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Then-Prime Minister John Key appears in the Step Up Taranaki video.

A dance video project which featured a cameo of former Prime Minister John Key alongside other celebrities has struggled to raise money promised to charity.

The Step Up Taranaki Trust was launched in 2015 by New Plymouth woman Sarah Lee who had the idea to create a video of people grooving to Poi E, the song made famous by the Patea Maori Club, while highlighting the region's tourist attractions.

Funds raised by the project were destined to be donated to the Taranaki Young People's Trust and South Taranaki Hospice.

The Patea Maori Club performing Poi E on the Hatchery Lawn in Pukekura Park in New Plymouth for the Step Up video.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

The Patea Maori Club performing Poi E on the Hatchery Lawn in Pukekura Park in New Plymouth for the Step Up video.

However after the video, which had attracted some big names including Key,  Paul Henry, Toni Street, Taranaki Rugby players, oil rig workers, hundreds of bikies, kapa haka groups and about 4000 other people, was released in December questions were asked why the charities hadn't seen any financial benefits from the project.

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Lynnette West, Taranaki Young People's Trust manager, said she had been left feeling frustrated as the organisation had not received any money and had been left fielding inquiries from people wanting receipts for their donations and asking how the funds had been used.

John Key got involved in filming for Step Up Taranaki.
Step Up

John Key got involved in filming for Step Up Taranaki.

"We haven't got the money and people think we have.

"It's embarrassing and it's hurt our funding from the community."

West also said there had been a lack of communication from Step Up about progress.

Council/government workers, politicians, QC's, and emergency services turned out to dance Poi E as part of the Taranaki ...
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ.

Council/government workers, politicians, QC's, and emergency services turned out to dance Poi E as part of the Taranaki wide dance movement.

Hospice Taranaki chief executive Kevin Nielsen said no money had been forwarded and he believed it would have been.

"But we never expected a large sum," Nielsen said.

Trust chairwoman Janice Halliburton wouldn't say how much had been raised by collections at community events but said it would be dished out to the two charities within weeks.

Roller Corps member Chrissi Phillips-Ryburn practiced her moves before filming began.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Roller Corps member Chrissi Phillips-Ryburn practiced her moves before filming began.

"What I can tell you is it was no where near what we expected or what we had pushed for," Halliburton said.

"Our aim was to raise as much money as possible, we had a ball park figure we would have liked to get but we are actually, all of us, quite stunned how little we got."

A Todd Energy spokesman confirmed the company had a sponsorship agreement in place with Step Up Taranaki to support the two charities but couldn't say how much it was worth.

Highlands intermediate students dance for the Step Up Taranaki music video.
Glenn Jeffrey

Highlands intermediate students dance for the Step Up Taranaki music video.

He said the money was due to be paid soon.  

Halliburton described the Step Up group as a bunch of novices who had no idea of what they were about to create and the pitfalls they would face along the way.

"There was a lot of things that we knew nothing about.

Step Up organiser Sarah Lee.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Step Up organiser Sarah Lee.

"We were just a bunch of ordinary people who came together and followed a great idea, producing something beyond our expectations and are left sitting with this beautiful piece that we don't know how to get more money with."

Step Up had done a deal with website Youtube where there would be financial benefits once the video reached a million hits.

They believed launching it on the Paul Henry show would help them towards the goal but instead it worked against them as the television programme wouldn't link it to Youtube.

"That was a learning curve for us we had no idea about that."

She believed their naivety had cost them a million hits but they haven't stopped promoting the clip and still hoped to reach the target so they could pass on the money to the charities.

"We had high expectations that we could rock up to them with big cheques going here you are fill your boots."

Halliburton conceded communications with the charities could have been better but reassured them the Step Up team was continuing to explore ideas how to gain financial benefits from the video so they could continue to provide them support.

"We're still marketing it and encouraging people to get their families to view it and pass it around to get other people viewing it.

"We're also open to ideas and suggestions to how it could be used to make more money.

"We ended up with a fabulous piece of film and not as much money as we expected so we are exploring ideas as to what we can do with it."

In March the New Plymouth District Council agreed to funding a one-off $350,000 marketing campaign, by Venture Taranaki, launched to capitalise on Taranaki's rating as the second best region in the world to visit by travel guide Lonely Planet.

Halliburton hoped there might be the opportunity to get some of the cash.

Mayor Neil Holdom said he would welcome the opportunity to speak with the group.

"The best thing is to come through the door and explain how it will benefit the ratepayers of New Plymouth."

Halliburton said Step Up was grateful to everybody who had donated their time, energy and services towards the project.

 - Stuff

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