2014 YEAR IN REVIEW
JANUARY - MARCH
Memorable reunions, resthome upgrades and promising rugby league futures were the highlights of the first quarter of 2014.
Preparations for the memorable Bill Gray’s Reunion were well under way in January.
The event marked 14 years since the day the long-standing New World owner died.
Two former employees Stuart Short and Wendy Cook organised the reunion and looking back, Cook said it was well worth the effort.
‘‘It was very successful, we are still getting feedback and comments from people who weren’t there that wished they were’’.
February was an exciting one for the Rangiura Charitable Trust which set out to complete a $4 million expansion.
Construction started on the homely upgrade in November 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of May this year.
The following month was a special one for Tokoroa’s Jeremy Siulepa and his budding rugby league career.
After just two months playing the fastpaced sport in Australia, Siulepa was selected to play for the Newcastle Knights grade two team.
He pulled on the No 12 jersey and took the field against fellow Tokoroa boy and Penrith Panther Isaac John, while good friend and then grade one Knights forward Zane Tetevano sat on the bleachers with injury.
Reflecting back on how the rest of his year played out, Siulepa remembered March as being one of the best.
‘‘It just seemed unreal to me and I still can’t believe it’s happened...it was a special time for me and one I’d probably share with my kids as they get older.’’
APRIL - JUNE
The voices of protesters, young and old, were heard loud and clear outside Bridge St’s R18 shop in April - just one month before the nationwide ban of synthetics was brought in.
Julie King had fronted the town’s battle since 2013 and nine months on, she believed it was a battle well fought. ‘‘It was the aim to get it banned.’’ What used to be a busy Bridge St shop now appears lonely, exactly the way King wanted it.
The synthetics are still quietly being sold, she said, but the ban has made it harder to access.
New beginnings came to Putaruru’s Maori immersion school the following month with the opening of a new sports centre in May.
The opening was only stage two of Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere’s 15-classroom upgrade for its 170 students.
Since then, principal Keith Silveira said the centre had been a hit for students and the community.
"It’s been non-stop, there’s been netball training and ex-students back, it’s been unreal."
Ninety-three year old Stewart Gray’s transport fears have been allayed with the concept of a district-wide transport system finally gaining traction.
In June the Tirau resident faced the dilemma of having to leave town if he lost his licence due to the lack of public transport.
But South Waikato District Council allocated $200,000 to investigate options from the $5 million community grant.
After months of discussions amongst the newly formed steering committee, the wheels on the project finally started to turn.
A trial has been set for late this month or early February. The route is planned for a return trip from Tokoroa to Tirau as well as a service around Tokoroa.
JULY - SEPTEMBER
The third quarter of 2014 highlighted the community focus in the South Waikato.
July was all about the revival of the Tokoroa High School Trust, brought to life after 10 years of hibernation.
The trust’s aim is to raise $1 million and invest the annual $20,000 to $40,000 interest on educational needs not funded by the Ministry of Education.
The seven trustees Dean Tereau, Brian Reid, Wayne Jowett, Graeme Dewhurst, William Ford, Teokotai Tarai, and chairman Roger Sommerville have already started building on the initial $88,000.
A further 10 $1000 pledges have been secured, Tereu said.
The following month the community celebrated the second annual Fashion and Wearable Arts Show which hosted a sellout crowd.
A spectacle full of bright colours and innovative designs attracted more than expected to the August event.
The two night extravaganza, hosted by Tokoroa High School, attracted about 600 people.
September was a victorious month for Louise Upston who managed to scoop up a majority and win back her seat as the Taupo MP.
Upston secured a majority of more than 13,700 votes.
National got 48.1 percent of the party vote, which translated to 61 seats in Parliament - enough to govern alone. It was the first time under the current MMP system this had been the case.
OCTOBER - DECEMBER
Prison-grown vegetables, decile funding and Christmas took front of stage for the final months of the year.
An initiative involving growing vegetables within Waikeria Prison and using the produce in Love Soup’s Kids Kai programme was the centre of attention in October.
Central School children were the first to pilot the programme.
Julie King made the first delivery and served a huge line of children.
This year King plans to cater to three schools and in the first term.
Prison- grown food was not the only change for the district’s schools after the November decile-rating re-shuffle left some with thousands extra in the budget and others wondering where to make cuts.
And some schools stayed at the same funding level after the first recalculation in seven years.
Eight of the district’s schools went down in decile rating with both Bishop Edward Gaines Catholic and Lichfield schools dropping two levels.
Three of the Putaruru’s four schools moved up one decile rating - Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa O Patetere, St Mary’s Catholic School and Putaruru College.
But there was nothing but cheer in the community come December when santa took a main street ride in three of the district’s towns.
Christmas Parades were celebrated in Tokoroa, Putaruru and Mangakino.
Funding reshuffle sees some schools with thousands extra in the budget
Fashion and Wearable Arts Show