Daffodil Day cheer
Last Friday Whangamata’s streets and businesses were filled with daffodil flowers as volunteers and Whangamata Lions members raised money in the fight against cancer. Alison Smith hears the story behind the thousands of donated bulbs that have brought cheer for years.
It was a wet and grey day when Paulene Rollo and her group of ‘girls’ trudged across a paddock on the outskirts of Whangamata to pick hundreds of blooms for the big day last Friday.
“We didn’t complain,” says Paulene. “It’s good fun, and anyway it’s nothing compared to what people have to go through sitting waiting for treatment.”
Daffodil Day symbolises all New Zealanders coming together in the fight against cancer and Paulene is one of the many volunteers who dig deep for the cause.
Up until last year, Paulene and husband Bruce owned the farm where the Whangamata Lions’ daffodils are grown and picked by volunteers and sold in businesses at this time every year to raise money for the Lions Cancer Lodge in Hamilton.
The bright yellow bunches of daffodils and fundraising goods are sold by volunteers on behalf of the Cancer Society which uses these donations for cancer research.
The story of the locally grown daffodils begins with a farmer who missed his daughter.
Mabel Stewart bought a block of land near Whangamata with husband Mike in 1980. Mabel’s father in Nelson decided a couple of years later to move closer to them. Mabel wrote to Paulene in which she recalled her father’s daffodil beds as a little girl in Oamaru. Whenever her father moved, the beloved daffodils were dutifully dug up, counted, bagged, named and brought with him.
The bulbs travelled to Tokoroa, then Kaikohe, and when he moved again to Hawke’s Bay the bulbs were dug up and left with a cousin in Waihi. Many went back again to Nelson. By 1983 he was on the move again, and finally the bulbs made it to Whangamata, where a patch was designated and fenced and remain to this day.
Mabel tried to sell them on the Tauranga market but found it was a lot of trouble for very little gain, so the couple invited the Lions to come and take them to help raise money for their projects around the district.
The farm in which the daffodil paddock sits was bought by an American company before Paulene and Bruce bought it, continuing to house the daffodils for 16 years. Paulene says they felt confident when it came time to sell last year that its new owners would carry on the legacy of the Stewarts. Buyers Ben and Nicole Harris have done just that.
Ngaire Hurst (right) and Lyn Evans took the position at the south end of Port Rd in support of the Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day fundraiser.