Races run at a loss

Fu­ture meet­ings now in doubt

Te Awamutu Courier - - Front Page - BY COLIN THORSEN

The fu­ture of Piron­gia’s Box­ing Day race meet­ing is in se­ri­ous jeop­ardy after a dis­ap­point­ing crowd of only 1500 paid at the gate on De­cem­ber 26.

Alexan­dra Rac­ing Club sec­re­tary, Char­lie Coles re­ports that the meet­ing ran at a fi­nan­cial loss which af­fects the fu­ture of the day.

“We sim­ply can’t keep go­ing and lose money,” he said.

“Num­bers at­tend­ing have gone down rapidly in re­cent years mak­ing it hard to pay for things as our only real in­come is at the gate.

“There is no one par­tic­u­lar rea­son for the dwin­dling crowd num­bers.”

Coles said life­styles have changed.

“Peo­ple didn’t travel away as much in years gone by. Now you see kayaks on the roof of ve­hi­cles and bikes on the back, there are so many other ac­tiv­i­ties to do. Box­ing Day sales don’t help, nei­ther did last year’s meet­ing be­ing can­celled at the last minute.

“Four years ago we drew even thanks to grants but they ap­pear no longer avail­able for events like ours. The grants kept us afloat for a num­ber of years, bal­anc­ing the books on the day.”

Coles said ex­penses have rapidly in­creased.

“Some peo­ple ask what we spend our money on.

“Ma­jor costs are the traf­fic plan and con­trol on the day (the road is now a state high­way), gate and crowd se­cu­rity to cope with the al­co­hol li­cens­ing laws, ad­ver­tis­ing in var­i­ous forms, the sound sys­tem, am­bu­lance at­ten­dance, waste dis­posal, por­ta­ble toi­lets, Ar­mour­guard Money Se­cu­rity and print­ing of the tote tick­ets and race book.

“The club has had great fi­nan­cial sup­port from the busi­ness world and var­i­ous in­di­vid­u­als over a long pe­riod of time.

“We’ve also had sup­port from lo­cal clubs and the school which have worked on the day in re­turn for a do­na­tion.”

Coles said those who at­tended the lat­est meet­ing would have en­joyed them­selves.

“It was a very re­lax­ing at­mos­phere with lot smaller crowd queues for race tick­ets, re­fresh­ments and kids’ rides and en­ter­tain­ment out the back of the course.”

A meet­ing next month will de­cide the fate of the Box­ing Day races at Piron­gia.

Coles said a switch from Box­ing Day (be­cause of so many counter-at­trac­tions) to an­other date is a pos­si­bil­ity but he doesn’t hold his breath on that change.

Te Kawa Young Farm­ers again brought a truck load of mem­bers to the race meet­ing.

“We’ve been com­ing for at least 10 years, so we are sad to hear that the meet­ing could be canned,” said Ja­son In­ness of Te Awa­mutu. “It’s the fourth year I’ve brought my (Freight­liner) truck so us mem­bers can set up camp for the day.

“Five years ago I brought along one of John Austin’s truck and trail­ers.”

Te Kawa Young Farm­ers have a mem­ber­ship of 60 of which 20 were at the races.

Suc­cess­ful ‘punter’ Caitlin Sea­ger was also sorry to hear it could be the last Box­ing Day race meet­ing at Piron­gia.

“That is a real shame. It’s al­ways a great day out and I’ve been lucky enough this year to have the win­ning tick­ets in each of the first three races,” she said.

It is now a case of what will be, will be as far as the fu­ture of the meet­ing, founded in 1866, goes.

‘Peo­ple didn’t travel away as much in years gone by, now you see kayaks on the roof of ve­hi­cles and bikes on the back, there are so many other ac­tiv­i­ties to ’ do.


Photo / Colin Thorsen

Keep on truck­ing: Te Kawa Young Farm­ers again turned out in force for the Box­ing Day Races at Piron­gia.

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