Rotary visitors rapt
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.
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.