Kiwanis International - NZSP Division One (Auckland and Vanuatu)

Small Club - Big Heart
Text by Margaret Macfarlane - Kiwanis Club of Port Vila

Kiwanis Port Vila has the reputation of being a real "hands-on" club. Although the Club is a real mix of men and women, long term residents, short term contracted personnel working in local businesses, nationalities from all around the world, it is also true that this diverse mix of members share common attributes.

These include not only the expected commitment to community service but also a "can-do" attitude, lots of energy and a great sense of fun. Indeed, larger Kiwanis Clubs in New Zealand and Australia often express amazement at the range of activities and the success with fundraising events organised by the local Kiwanis Service Club. When you realise that all the work associated with the Race Week itself is carried out by a group of about 25 dedicated members supported by willing friends, then you can see how "hands-on" this group really is.

Kiwanis Race Week is a trifecta of activities starting with the Charity Ball on the Thursday night, the Calcutta on the Friday night and of course, the race day itself on the Saturday.

This year the Race Ball moved to "The Crowne Plaza." A medieval tryst was used this as the theme for the ball - "A Night of Knights" - and a crowd of over 300 attended the Ball in courtly attire to "tread a measure" until the wee hours. The music was provided by a 5 person band from Noumea whose costs were generously sponsored by Vila Distribution, with assistance from Air Vanuatu and Crowne Plaza.

The Calcutta with its auction and phantom race again drew consortiums of punters to listen to an Australian race caller bring home the winners.

The Race Day itself traditionally sees large crowds arrive at the Mele Race track on free buses. Last year saw the biggest crowd ever with 6,000 to 7,000 people coming along to join in the festive atmosphere and excitement of the Race Day. Why is the Race Day one of the most popluar events on the yearly calendar? Ni-Vanuatu families enjoy the day because the free buses to and from the track, combined with free entrance, make it an affordable day out for the whole family. Families are not the only winners on Race Day. Churches, schools and youth groups use the opportunity provided by the Race Day by setting up stalls, preparing items and cooking food to sell to the big crowd.

The Kiwanis Raffle is drawn late in the afternoon of the Race Day. Last year the crowd of 6,000 on lookers at Kiwanis Race Day pressed around the enclosure where a brand new maroon Daewoo truck stood. The shiny new truck, provided by Laho, was first prize in the Kiwanis Race Week raffle.

Jonothan Kalengor of Eton Village stood in the crowd with his son, clutching in his hand the one raffle ticket he had bought. He had paid only 200 vatu for the ticket which gave him a chance to win the truck. There were other great prizes to be won, like an Air Vanuatu ticket to Australia, but it was the truck he was hoping against hope to win.

When his name was called out, Jonothan said he couldn't believe his ears and his name had to be called several times before he walked forward to claim his prize from Kiwanis Race Week Committee President, Peter Wilson. Jonothan couldn't immediately enjoy his prize because he didn't have a drivers licence and had to ask someone else to drive the truck back to Eton. A year later Jonothan now has a driving licence and uses the truck to drive his family to the gardens and to take family garden produce to the markets in Vila.

"The truck has changed my life," Jonothan said.

But the great thing about Kiwanis raffle is that the raffle benefits not just one person but many. Schools such as Central Primary, Malapoa, PVIS and groups such as the Girl Guides, the Boy Scouts and sporting associations sell the tickets for Kiwanis. In return Kiwanis helps these groups by giving back half the value to the groups who sell them.

"We give 100 vatu per ticket sold back to the school or group that sells the tickets, not in cash but in building materials, sports equipment or text books - whatever the group notifies us that they need," explained Peter Wilson. "In this way the raffle winners aren't just the people who take away one of the raffle prizes but the broad community."

This year, with the generous assistance of Air Vanuatu and Deou Motors, the first prize will be a truck or cash, the second prize cash and the third prize, a return air ticket to Australia courtesy of Air Vanuatu.

Visitors from overseas quickly booked out Air Vanuatu flights yet again in the weeks leading up to the Races and a group of Kiwani Club members from Noumea are present today, having flown in to join in especially. On the Race Day, Fashions on the Field with prizes for the best - and most outrageously - dressed adds to the glamour and fun of the day.

Kiwanis use the funds raised from this trifecta of activities to support its broad program of charitable activities in education, sport, women's health and youth initiatives.

While our Club was set up nearly 30 years ago, Kiwanis itself was born on January 21, 1915 in Detroit USA. The name "Kiwanis" was adapted from the Otchipew Indian phrase for "we have a good time". The Kiwanis motto is "We Build".

There are six permanent Objects of Kiwanis International approved by Kiwanis Club delegates at the 1924 Convention in Denver, Colorado. Through the remaining decades, they have remained unchanged and are encapsulated as follows:

  1. to give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life;
  2. to encourage the daily living of the Golden rule in all human relationships;
  3. To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business and professional standards;
  4. to develop by precept and example a more intelligent and serviceable citizenship;
  5. to provide, through Kiwanis Clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service and to build better communities;
  6. to cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness,justice, patriotism and goodwill.

New members are always being sought and anyone interested in joining the Kiwanis Club is invited to drop into the club's weekly lunchtime meeting held at "The Outrigger Room" of the Melanesian Hotel at 12 noon, every Tuesday.

Membership with our club means you not only get to contribute to the development of Vanuatu which is the motto of the Kiwanis movement but also to live up to the meaning of the word "Kiwanis" and have lots of fun as well!

Kiwanis NZSP Division One home page / New Zealand - South Pacific District home page

Page last updated by (David Fentress) on 4 August, 2006.
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