Auckland events management company Running Events is going non-profit for 2013 and employees are working free to guarantee trips for at least 1,000 kids to Tiritiri Matangi island reserve. The company wants to enrich these kids' lives and help tackle child poverty issues at the top of the cliff.
"Two years ago, we took the Classic non-profit for the Christchurch earthquake relief effort. Now the need we see is in enabling schools to give their kids a new and exciting experience they'll remember long after the day is done," says event manager Alison Hunt.
"It's the same philosophy we bring to our Kids' Dash 2km runs. We want kids to find out first-hand how much fun running and competing can be, and set a pattern of exercise enjoyment for life."
Running Events is helping to launch the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi's Growing Minds programme by taking naming rights sponsorship in the scheme's first year. The event company's 2013 races will be 100% non-profit and its staff is working six months for free to guarantee at least $25,000 for the project - and that means a day out at this magical island reserve for 1,000 kids or more, including their ferry trip, lunch, and a souvenir drink bottle to keep the experience top of mind.
Volunteer guides from the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi will give the kids a free educational tour on the island's tracks. Running Event's Alison Hunt guides weekly on Tiri herself.
"I have first-hand experience of the impact a trip to Tiri makes on all its visitors and especially on kids from low-decile areas. For many of them it's their first boat trip, let alone their first chance to see such a rich island environment."
Not only will the children get a close-up look at New Zealand's rarest flora and fauna, but also at our culturally significant birds, like the bellbird and tui – part of their heritage they may not see at home.
"We are very excited to be involved in a community programme that will enrich these children's lives and imaginations by broadening their experience of the world," says Alison.
The Tiritiri Growing Minds project has another special purpose: The island only exists as a sanctuary for endangered birds such as the takahe, kiwi, hihi, kakapo and saddleback because of the determined efforts of a community group with little money and a big idea.
The Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi started as a handful of people in 1988; today it has 1900 members who give their time freely for the pleasure of working hand in hand with the Department of Conservation on what is now an internationally famous example of successful conservation practice.
It's a great way to show kids that they can make all kinds of changes in their community with few resources beyond people power and a will to succeed.