Ro­tary vis­i­tors rapt

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By DAVID HULME

Unique New Zealand ex­pe­ri­ences have high­lighted the open­ing fort­night for an Amer­i­can and Cana­dian Ro­tary Group Study Ex­change team – and Mata­mata re­ceived a big thumbs-up.

The team was hosted by the Ro­tary Club of Mata­mata and dur­ing their five-day stay in the town was shown some of the high­lights the re­gion has to of­fer.

Team leader Bill Rob­son said some of the ex­pe­ri­ences had been ‘‘ once- in- a- life­time’’ op­por­tu­ni­ties for him and his team.

The aim of the pro­gramme is to take young pro­fes­sion­als aged from 25 to 40 and travel to an­other coun­try to un­der­take cul­tural and vo­ca­tional ex­changes.

Mr Rob­son’s team, con­sist­ing of univer­sity fundraiser Caite Hol­man, mul­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tor Karena Hooks, youth worker Han­nah Lun­strum and struc­tural en­gi­neer Kelsey Mil­ner, are spend­ing six weeks in New Zealand.

They are also vis­it­ing Thames, Tau­ranga, Ro­torua, Gis­borne, Have­lock North and Napier.

‘‘This

trip has been be­yond be­lief so far. We all had our hopes and dreams but we were all just open to what­ever ex­pe­ri­ence came along and we cer­tainly have not been dis­ap­pointed.

‘‘It is very hard to put into words what we have ex­pe­ri­enced so far,’’ Mr Rob­son said.

‘‘To be able to come halfway around the world and just be ac­cepted and wel­comed into peo­ple’s homes and lives is quite an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

While in Mata­mata, the team did a cheese tast­ing at Kaimai Cheese, vis­ited Hob­biton Movie Set, toured a hy­dro­ponic let­tuce op­er­a­tion in Mor­rinsville, met with mayor Hugh Ver­coe, ex­pe­ri­enced the glow worms on Lake Kara­piro, un­der­took vo­ca­tional vis­its, spent time at the Mata­mata Race Course dur­ing morn­ing train­ing and en­coun­tered a kiwi at Maun­gatau­tari Eco­log­i­cal Is­land.

‘‘ We have had the chance to see some of the real unique things about New Zealand,’’ Mr Rob­son said, ‘‘ all things you can not do or see any­where else in the world.’’

Mata­mata Ro­tary pres­i­dent Graeme Guil­ford said it was a plea­sure for the club to host the team.

‘‘ Th­ese kind of ex­changes ben­e­fit those that host them as much as the par­tic­i­pants,’’ he said.

‘‘We get the chance to spend some time with peo­ple from a dif­fer­ent cul­ture, show­ing them the best of what we have to of­fer, while they share their life ex­pe­ri­ences with us. It re­ally is a win-win sit­u­a­tion.’’

Close up: Team leader Bill Rob­son and team mem­bers Caite Hol­man, Karena Hooks, Han­nah Lun­strum and Kelsey Mil­ner meet a kiwi at Maun­gatau­tari Eco­log­i­cal Is­land.

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