Fes­ti­val fu­ture up in air

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

Creek­fest is in dan­ger of be­ing canned this year due to a fund­ing short­fall and its co-or­di­na­tor Liz Kelly is lay­ing blame on the Mana Com­mu­nity Grants Foun­da­tion.

She has ac­cused its trustees of turn­ing their backs on the big­gest health fes­ti­val in the coun­try af­ter MCGF turned down a fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion in De­cem­ber for more than $27,000.

But the trustees – all cur­rent or former may­ors and city coun­cil­lors – have fired back, point­ing out the large amount of ap­pli­ca­tions to a shrink­ing fund and the fact MCGF has gifted Creek­fest more than $100,000 since 2006.

This year marks 10 years for the fes­ti­val, which pro­vides a plat­form for health and so­cial ser­vice providers to in­ter­act with the pub­lic, based around mu­sic and sports at­trac­tions.

Ms Kelly is the ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Porirua Health­links Trust which has or­gan­ised Creek­fest for the past four years. Each one costs about $117,000, she says, but could be done for as lit­tle as $70,000.

This amount has yet to be reached and time is run­ning out. If a bud­get is not in place by the end of this month, Creek­fest will not be held on March 9.

‘‘What blows me away is the peo­ple mak­ing the de­ci­sion are our cur­rent mayor Nick Leggett, east­ern ward coun­cil­lor Litea Ah Hoi, along with two ex-may­ors, Jenny Brash and John Burke,’’ says Ms Kelly. ‘‘We are get­ting key mes­sages out about health and so­cial ser­vices, it’s the big­gest event in this city, and the lead­ers of Porirua said no. I’m an­noyed and dis­ap­pointed.’’

Fig­ures pro­vided to Kapi-Mana News show MCGF has funded Creek­fest a num­ber of times since 2006. It was de­clined once be­fore in Septem­ber 2010 when ask­ing for $66,000. Last month’s ap­pli­ca­tion was for stage and sup­port, sound and light­ing, and toi­lets.

For its lat­est round of grants, MCGF had $1.6 mil­lion in ap­pli­ca­tions and $300,000 to dis­trib­ute. Its chair­man John Burke says Ms Kelly’s com­ments are ‘‘bizarre’’ and ac­cused her of mak­ing MCGF’s de­ci­sions per­sonal.

He says they are the only trust op­er­at­ing in Porirua that gives 100 per cent of their funds to this com­mu­nity.

‘‘We have nearly al­ways sup­ported [Creek­fest] and we know it’s a wor­thy cause. With $300,000 to give, it’s ex­traor­di­nar­ily hard to turn down ap­pli­ca­tions and we are full of re­morse, but that’s the re­al­ity. We can’t give money we don’t have. It’s an aw­ful thing for [Ms Kelly] to say what she has and her crit­i­cism is very, very mis­placed.’’

Among the suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants were North­ern United RFC ($60,000) and Porirua Vik­ings ($40,000), Plim­mer­ton Com­mu­nity Play­ground ($380) and Pa­cific Heat Sports Club ($900). Or­gan­i­sa­tions to miss out in­cluded Aotea Col­lege, Streets Ahead 237 and Porirua Liv­ing With­out Vi­o­lence.

Mr Leggett wasn’t at the MCGF meet­ing in De­cem­ber. He says Ms Kelly’s state­ments were ‘‘po­lit­i­cal point-scor­ing’’. Check­ing in ten­pin bowl­ing balls at the air­port puts a heck of a strain on the rest of your lug­gage al­lowance, but Saasha Ritchie and Mon­ica Sopi were will­ing to make the sac­ri­fice.

Ritchie only had half a suit­case of clothes – she was shar­ing with mum Julie – when the Porirua duo winged their way to Perth last Fri­day for the week-long Aus­tralian Youth Cup.

Ritchie and Sopi have had a stel­lar 12 months on the lanes, both fin­ish­ing in the top three at the ten­pin bowl­ing na­tion­als in Tau­ranga in Oc­to­ber.

Sopi was the top ju­nior (un­der 18) and third over­all in the youth (un­der 21) sec­tion, while Ritchie fin­ished sec­ond in the youth stand­ings.

‘‘It was a bit gut­ting but to get five medals [in the sin­gles, dou­bles and teams events] and make the All Star and New Zealand team was very cool,’’ Ritchie, 20, said.

Sopi, who brought home four medals, said she and mum Re­becca both shed tears when news came through she would rep­re­sent New Zealand.

The girls have trained their socks off – work­ing at Strike Porirua is ben­e­fi­cial for Ritchie, while 15-year-old Sopi fit­ted in school­work at Aotea Col­lege around plenty of prac­tice.

They bowl most nights of the week, for at least two hours.

‘‘Some days it is hard [to keep the mo­ti­va­tion up] but it’s good to train when you’re tired,’’ Sopi says.

‘‘Some­times you feel like it’s bowl, work, bowl, work, but you need to keep the train­ing up,’’ adds Ritchie, who has twin 3-year-olds.

They even oiled lanes at Strike to dif­fer­ent lev­els to pre­pare for con­di­tions in Perth, where they want to both en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence and re­pay the se­lec­tors’ faith.

While Ritchie’s top score is 258 and Sopi’s is 224, they both aim to hit reg­u­lar 200s in New Zealand colours.

The pair were among 30 youth bowlers in Tau­ranga.

They were ex­cited to be at­tend­ing their first in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment, on for­eign soil no less.

Though they re­ceived some grant fund­ing, the trip has cost Sopi and Ritchie $2000 each, which has re­quired plenty of fundrais­ing.

Both Ritchie and Sopi have been bowl­ing since they were chil­dren and their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies play a lot. Julie Barns, Ritchie’s mum, is the New Zealand man­ager in Perth.

They say the sport is strong in New Zealand and there are plenty of tour­na­ments that push them to play to a high level.

Ten­pin team­mates: Mon­ica Sopi and Saasha Ritchie will be fly­ing both the Porirua and New Zealand flag at the Aus­tralian Youth Cup for ten­pin bowl­ing in Perth this week.

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