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Rotary in New Zealand

Rotary background

New Zealand's first Rotary clubs, the Rotary Club of Wellington and the Rotary Club of Auckland, were chartered in 1921, 16 years after Chicago lawyer Paul Harris, with three friends - a merchant, a coal dealer and a mining engineer - decided to meet regularly for friendship and business networking.

They had set up their group as a stand against corruption and poor business ethics that prevailed in Chicago at the time.

Other clubs soon sprung up with members rotating meeting venues hence the name "Rotary". It wasn't long before they recognized the opportunity to use their skills and business contacts to help their local communities and, later, to promote the concept of world peace and understanding.

Rotary's achievements are all around us

Did you know that Rotary helped set up:

  • Asthma Society
  • CCS (formerly Crippled Children's Society)
  • Ellerslie Flower Show
  • Health Camps
  • Milk in Schools
  • National Children's Health Research Foundation
  • National Kidney Foundation
  • Outward Bound Trust
  • Riding for Disabled
  • Ronald McDonald House Auckland
  • The first Karitane Hospital
  • The first mobile TB clinic

Committed to the motto "Service Above Self", Rotarians are men and woman from a wide range of professional, managerial or business ownership backgrounds representing New Zealanders from builders to brain surgeons.

Many activities of Rotary have been lost in the mist of time:

  • Administration of the JR McKenzie Youth Education Fund
  • Give Kids a Chance (Otago and Southland)
  • Hutt City Tutukiwi Orchid House
  • Outward Bound Trust (1961)
  • Riddiford Park, Lower Hutt
  • The professional chair of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Auckland (in 1945) which eventually led to National Womens Hospital
  • Trees for Survival, school tree planting programme for erosion sites (1991)

All towns and neighbourhoods in New Zealand  and the Pacific Islands where Rotary has a presence have benefited from projects for local improvement and support of social, economic, cultural, educational and environmental programs.

Local and global

The worldwide family of Rotarians has grown to nearly 1.3 million in 31,000 clubs carrying out global and local projects for illiteracy, disease, education and caring for the environment.

New Zealand clubs have taken responsibility for the Pacific Islands and helped reconstruction after tropical cyclones, built schools and hospitals in Tonga, Samoa, the Cook islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, and provided over 700 "Rotahomes" for families who previously lived in flimsy shelters.

Internationally, the biggest commitment to date has been the campaign to eradicate polio worldwide, working in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and government agencies. The 20-year project is on track for a polio-free world during 2005 - Rotary's centennial year. Clubs around the world have contributed close to $NZ1billion for oral vaccine and taken part in mass immunization campaigns.

Rotary helps young people achieve

Many of Rotary's programs are designed to give life-changing opportunities to young people. These include:

  • Ambassadorial Scholarships
    - Ambassadorial scholars are granted up to US$25,000 for transport, tuition and living expenses to undertake postgraduate study usually for one year at an overseas institution or university. The purpose is to further international under-standing and friendly relations among different people of different countries.

  • Challenge Camps
    - These week-long annual residential camps give young disabled people aged 16-24 the chance to take part in activities previously thought beyond their reach. Whether they are wheelchair bound, blind or deaf, they do abseiling, kayaking, swimming and learn from inspirational speakers. They all leave feeling ten-feet tall.

  • GENESIS national Science and Technology Forum
    - An opportunity for high-achieving secondary school students to experience science and technology campuses in Auckland. Open to New Zealand students in Year 12 who will be returning to year 13 in January and are planning to enter tertiary programs in science and technology. A two-week residential programme.

  • Interact (for ages 14-18) and Rotaract, young adults 18-30
    - Clubs operating under the guidance of a sponsoring Rotary club to give young people experience in community service and leadership development.

  • International Youth Exchange
    - This offers secondary school pupils aged 16 and 17 an opportunity to live with a family overseas, attending school and learning about another culture. In return, New Zealand families host incoming pupils.

  • Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA)
    - Teams of secondary school students learn how United Nations works, its current issues, and take part in debates and problem solving experiences.

  • Rotary Australia/New Zealand Student Exchange
    - Matched students 14-16 years live together with host families and attend school. Both students attend school and live in Australia for Term 2 before travelling to New Zealand for a similar experience for Term 3.

  • Rotary World Peace Scholarships
    - The Rotary Centres for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution offer individuals committed to peace and co-operation the opportunity to pursue a two year Master's level degree in international studies, peace studies, and conflict resolution at one of the seven Rotary Centres for International Studies established at partner Universities in five countries. The scholars will be expected to act as ambassadors of goodwill wherever they go.

  • Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
    - A residential seminar/camp for young adults between 20-26, bringing together people who've shown leadership qualities. Full-on activities including outdoor team building, discussions, meetings with inspirational figures, debates and interaction over a week. Participants always include their RYLA experience on their resumes.

  • Rotary Youth Programme of Enrichment (RYPEN)
    - A residential weekend seminar for secondary school students aged 14-18, similar to RYLA. Aimed at self-improvement and to broaden social and cultural horizons.

For a New Zealand Rotary club near you, phone
0800 4 ROTARY (0800 476 8279)


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