Community response gratifying part of hospital fundraising efforts
Q How have you found it becoming such a public figure through your role in the Maniototo Hospital rebuild project?
I enjoy being the chairman of Maniototo Health Services Ltd, but don’t like the spotlight, it’s great that our manager Geoff Foster is often the contact for communication. I enjoy being part of the hospital board and the Maniototo community, but I like to be behind the scenes. Q How do you feel about the lack of government funding for the hospital rebuild, and the board and Maniototo community having to raise all the money for the rebuild?
I’m very disappointed that we have to, and can’t understand why in a rural area like the Maniototo we have to build the hospital without any [government] help. We’re very lucky that the Central Otago District Council and Maniototo Community Board have come on board and provided $2 million, to be either repaid through Maniototo rates or funded through Maniototo land sales. We appreciate that every other political party has said they will give us money if elected, but it was the current National Government that we needed to help us. Q What do you make of the level of support from the Maniototo community for the rebuild?
It’s obviously been tremendous, we’ve raised almost $1 million from community fundraising and grants. We’ve raised a lot from the naming rights for rooms, selling six at $30,000 and 16 at $20,000, and they are still selling. And I have a list five pages long of people who have donated other amounts, either small or large. Then of course you’ve got the dine and dance in Ranfurly, which raised $97,000 earlier this month. That was just magnificent.
How are plans for the rebuild going?
We’re on track to start construction in the first quarter of next year. At this stage we’re meeting with our architect every two weeks, and consulting with hospital board members and staff about our proposed design. We’ve actually ended up making the rooms bigger, which will put the price of the project up from $5.5 million to $6 million. We’ve got the ability to borrow any final money we need, and we just want to make sure the rebuild is done right while we have the chance. Q How is your life outside of the hospital rebuild, out on the farm?
I’m a fourthgeneration farmer and have been a farmer all my life, now in partnership at our 2000ha sheep and beef farm Diamond Hill, in Gimmerburn, with my son Mark Paterson. It’s great to see the farm stay in the family, in my opinion that’s what it’s all about. But some other family farms are slowly changing and being taken over by corporate farming, and I think that’s a shame, losing the familyowned focus in farming. Q What do you make of Labour’s proposed water policy to charge a royalty for irrigation water, and how has the idea been received in the Maniototo?
People are very angry. It’s disappointing that farmers are sometimes portrayed as the villains, and the proposed charge seems to be totally unfair when our rivers are some of the best around and a lot of work is being done to keep them right. The water charge would take a lot of money out of the Maniototo community, at a time when Ranfurly’s going ahead really well. It would be a shame if there was any setback for the community. Q What else are you involved in and what do you like doing?
I’m a member of the Maniototo Lions, which has about 50 members and is a very good club. It has a good bunch of members and is a very enjoyable club to be a member of. The club is also doing a lot of work for the hospital rebuild, they are going through the international Lions wing to see if they can get some funding for it, and are aiming to donate about
$200,000 towards the medical centre part of the rebuild.
The only other thing I do is I’ve just taken up bowls, about three years ago, and I really enjoy that.
Maniototo Hospital. Right: Maniototo Health Services Ltd chairman and farmer Stuart Paterson.