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Trek in a Trillian

Trillian Trek has been fundraising for New Zealand children for more than a quarter of a century and raised more than $11 million.


Known for 26 years as Variety Bash, the charity raises money for disadvantaged children to provide them with the means to secure a better life – be it liberty swings, bikes, mobility projects, insulin pumps, or mentors to encourage them in their life goals.

This year marks Trillian Trek’s 30th anniversary.

The fun begins with its annual non-competitive car rally beginning 15 March at Timaru and continuing on to Dunedin, Invercargill, Wanaka, Hokitika, Picton, Wanganui, ending 21 March at Waireka Resort.

Throughout the journey, Kiwi kids get to meet the trekkers and get up to all kinds of fun, games and madcap mayhem.

In 2017, some Canterbury trekkers formed a team (currently the only Trillian Trek in the South Island) and got their own fire truck, Wai Wakanui, which roughly translates into the ‘Big Water Truck’.

Wai Wakanui will be joined in the 2020 rally by Te Waka Haumi, a stretch Cadillac.

The Canterbury trekkers have been thrilled with the support received from huge-hearted local businesses.

Christchurch policeman, Dougall Struthers, first became involved with Trillian Trek in 2000. “It was sold to me as a week-long party – I lasted three days!”

Dougall said of his first rally that although he returned home feeling exhausted, he also knew that he had found something he wanted to do.

“Sure, we’d have great fun along the way at night functions, but it was the special moments during school visits when you experience the smile from a kid struggling with life, knowing that you’ve helped them, that pulls you back.”

They are kids like Mark Wilson, now 25-years-old, who was born with cerebral palsy and whose parents were told he would never walk or talk.

At 13 months, Mark began an intense therapy programme and, by six years of age, was walking and talking.

It was a Trillian Trek scholarship that saw Mark not only representing New Zealand in the Paralympics Development Squad in athletics and table tennis, but also receiving a mentor who provided ongoing support and encouragement.

“The Trillian Trek family passed no judgement and encouraged me to be myself. I gained more confidence, helping me to overcome the bullying I was experiencing at school.”

Mark graduated from Waikato University with a degree in business management in 2017 and now works for a leading finance company. He loves being an ambassador for Trillian Trek and will be taking part in this year’s rally – his tenth – with his own team and fire truck.

Trillion Trek Event Director, Murray O’Donnell, says the strong partnerships forged with sponsors, such as the New Zealand Air Force, AA, and Bluebridge Ferries, to name but a few, is what keeps Trillian Trek trekking.

Alongside these altruistic sponsors are the amazing 134 volunteers, like Dougall and Mark, who donate one week of their lives every year to help bring joy and hope to our kids.


Empowerment through service

Twenty-five years ago Janet Messervy founded the first Z-Club at Avonside Girls High School (AGHS) to encourage leadership and organisational skills in young women through service to their community.




On 15 October, when Zonta Z-Club celebrated its 25th birthday at Avonside Girls High School (AGHS) with Zonta’s Governor, Souella Cumming, affiliated Zonta Christchurch branches and various charities in attendance, it was clear that Z-Club has become a leader itself.

For 18 years it was the only Z-Club in New Zealand. Now, thanks to all the inspirational things achieved by AGHS Z-Club, New Zealand has eight Z-Clubs (formed on secondary school campuses or in communities) and Golden Z-Clubs (formed on college and university campuses).

These student clubs are designed to provide opportunities for young adults to develop communication and leadership skills, explore career alternatives, and increase their international awareness and understanding through service.

“I think things like this can slip by, as we take for granted what people do for others,” Phillippa Jacobs says of the importance of acknowledging the work done by Z-Club AGHS. She’s the Area 3 Director for Zonta, member of the Z and Golden Z Club International Committee, and chair of the Z-Club AGHS for 11 of the 13 years she’s been in Zonta.

“Awesome teenagers and young adults often go unnoticed when doing kind, caring things for others.”

It’s estimated that around 700 girls have passed through Z-Club AGHS – an impressive number that undoubtedly has been built from the continuous support from people such as AGHS Principal Sue Hume and AGHS teacher representative of 25 years, Anna McNeil, as well as Zonta Committee and past Z-Club members.

Like many teens in east Christchurch disrupted by the quakes, AGHS pupils were dislocated from their schools and normal school routines, but the girls of Z-Club AGHS found a sense of purpose by maintaining fundraising efforts and helping others in need.

The list of charities that Z-Club AGHS has supported speaks for itself: Cholmondoley Children’s Home; EB Charity; All Star Kids – Holiday Program; Canteen; Camp Quality, and this year’s chosen charity, Goodnight Sleep Tight.

Another charity they’ve had a long and ongoing association with is Ronald McDonald House South Island (RMHSI), of which the Z-Club AGHS bacon and egg pies are legend. However it is The Mural, on the corner of Linwood Avenue and Aldwins Road, that’s been, to date, their most epic fundraiser for RMHSI – it raised $6,000, which was donated to the charity to buy new ovens.

Phillippa’s closing words at the 25th celebration encapsulate best what its members have brought, and will continue to bring, to our community in the years ahead: “To be able to help children and families, to give a smile, to offer hope and love is a wonderful thing.

“Making cupcakes; running bake sales; waitressing at Zonta events; cutting dress patterns for a girl on the other side of the world; chocolate raffles; car washes; toy, book or blanket collections, or weekly rest home visits to the dementia care unit… it is a privilege to be in a position to help others. I thank the school deeply for allowing a Z-Club at your school to help so many lives. Keep up the wonderful work you all do.”



Art helps charities: TakeHeART

A love of art and a quest to help charitable organisations succeed in a difficult fundraising environment is the motivation behind the first ever TakeHeART fundraising exhibition.




Christchurch woman Jen Duncan is organising the exhibition to be held at the Great Hall at the Arts Centre from November 30 to December 2; with an official opening night on November 29. Jen says the concept behind TakeHeART was to help 10 organisations raise money through selling art on behalf of the artist. On selling their artwork, the artist will receive 65 percent of the total and the nominated charity will receive 25 percent.

“The artists win, the people win and the charities win, so it’s a great result all round,” Jen says. Charities involved are The Cancer Society, Conductive Education, Upside Downs, Riding for the Disabled, Christchurch School of Music, Cystic Fibrosis Canterbury, Ski NZ, The Champion Centre, Mental Health Foundation and the Arts Centre Trust. “After working with small charities and fundraising groups I can see first-hand how hard it can be so I thought why not combine for one big event, benefiting everyone.”

With previous fundraising and marketing experience, Jens says all of the charities and artists are supportive of the exhibition. Local artists include Svetlana Orinko, Ben Reid, Philip Beadle and others. “It’s a great way for everyone to come together (in a prime central location) and showcase the work that charities do and our talented artists.”


Visit for further information on the event or phone Jen on 021 023 07322.