Telethon: Those were days of our lives

In 1990 a mys­tery celebrity ar­rived in town via he­li­copter as Rexine Hawes dis­cov­ers from the Chron­i­cle archives for our Back In The Day se­ries.

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About -

Telethons were held reg­u­larly through­out the 1980s and 1990s as a tele­vised 24 hour event and coined the phrase ‘‘thank you very much for your kind do­na­tion’’.

Telethons were hugely pop­u­lar and well sup­ported in the com­mu­ni­ties and the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle doc­u­mented the lo­cal ef­forts in each of its twice-weekly edi­tions through­out the months of Au­gust and Septem­ber 1990.

Per­haps all the ex­cite­ment had some­thing to do with se­cret celebri­ties Philip Leish­man, as well as Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble and Days of Our Lives heart­throb Thaao Pengh­lis, ar­riv­ing in Mata­mata by he­li­copter on Septem­ber 1.

Their time in Mata­mata was spent at the Mata­mata Pri­mary School, where cam­eras were set up to broad­cast a live feed of the town’s ac­tiv­i­ties to TVNZ’s chan­nel one.

They got stuck in wash­ing cars with the Mata­mata Bap­tist Church Youth Group, sign­ing end­less au­to­graphs and en­joy­ing sausage siz­zles.

Prior to the telethon week­end, through­out the months of Au­gust and Septem­ber, the Chron­i­cle team was busy re­port­ing on at least two to three stories per edi­tion on what Mata­mata was do­ing to help raise money for telethon. By the end of telethon, Mata­mata raised $15,000 of the to­tal $4mil­lion raised through­out New Zealand.

Brian Par­ish headed up the Mata­mata fundrais­ing ef­forts. A fol­low-up ar­ti­cle re­ported Par­ish say­ing that by the end ‘‘I had ab­so­lutely had it, but it was all worth while’’.

Fundrais­ers and com­mu­nity events in­cluded a dis­play of ve­hi­cles by the Mata­mata and Te Awa­mutu Hot Rod Club, $6 tick­ets for a hangi, and even Telethon sweat­shirts sold by Ki­wa­nis Club mem­bers.

Telethon seemed to get the whole district in­volved, as Te Aroha chal­lenged Par­ish and the Mata­mata’s Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion to a pan­cake derby. Teams of four were in­vited to en­ter, which in­cluded mak­ing, run­ning with and eat­ing pan­cakes.

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