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Thames Coast Community Kindergarten teacher Emma Corner, left, with Taryn Baines, who is stepping down after seven years in charge of the Pohutukawa Ball. Photo: SUPPLIED

Formal event funds fuel future learning in Te Puru

The annual Thames Coast Pohutukawa Ball was a resounding success, with this year’s event raising more than $10,000 for the Thames Coast Community Kindergarten and Te Puru School.

Over the seven years the event has run, it has raised almost $80,000 for the kindy and the school. 

Event organiser and former kindy committee member Taryn Baines said she was thrilled with the community’s support of the event, saying they sold out of this year’s 160 tickets in about two minutes. 

“I was pretty impressed that we still managed to do … $10,000,” Taryn said. 

“At the moment people are struggling with the cost of living and everything.”

The event, which was held on August 5, was themed ‘A night in Morocco’. Attendees were encouraged to wear something from their wardrobe or snag an op shop outfit for the fancy ‘do. 

“We encouraged reusing or repurposing outfits,” Taryn said. 

“I have a habit of buying lots of ball dresses at the op shops [so] people just borrowed those off me. I’ve got one dress that three of us have worn over the years.” 

The ball idea originated seven years ago with Taryn and the committee at the kindy, who were lamenting the lack of fun, formal events in the area. 

“We wanted to make it accessible to everyone because a lot of the time things can be quite costly to go for a big night out,” she said. 

“[We had] reasonable ticket prices, and instead of doing a full dinner we [had] nibbles … just trying to keep it a little bit more accessible, and then that way they’ve got a little bit more money to spend on auctions and raffles.” 

Previous years’ funds have paid for extensions to the kindy building, including a new kitchen, adult bathroom and roof. 

“I wanted to help in a way that meant there would be a bit more longevity for the building itself.” 

When her son moved on to school, Taryn continued organising the event, with the funds now split between the kindy and the school.  

“This year the school’s using it for technology stuff, and kindy needs to do the roof over the patio outside,” she said. 

This was Taryn’s final year organising the ball, as she’s decided it’s time to take a step back from the role to focus on other things. But she is hopeful that the kindy will continue to receive the same generosity of spirit from the community in years to come. 

“Kindy relies so much on community involvement, and I want it to be there as an option for my grandkids,” she said. 

“What kindy gives a family group in terms of that sense of community and belonging … is just the best thing.

“I just want to make sure that that cool little gem gets to stay around for as long as possible.” 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air