Festival future up in air
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.