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Women’s groups get government boost

Heather Bannister [back right], with friends at the Working Vintage Sewing Machine Museum on Dixon St, Masterton. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

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Wairarapa community groups who focus on the promotion of women’s health and development have been allocated a portion of the government’s $2 million covid-19 Community Fund for Women and Girls.

Originally $1m was allocated toward the relief package “but due to overwhelming demand, the government has now decided to double the fund”, Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said.

Of the 155 community groups granted relief packages, six were from Wairarapa: Come Sew with Me; Shift Foundation – Wairarapa Branch; Maori Women’s Welfare League; Wairarapa Cricket Association; Wairarapa Women’s Centre; and the Wairarapa Youth Charitable Trust.

Owner-operator of Come Sew with Me, Heather Bannister, received $7000 and said this was the second pool of funding she had received for covid-19 this year.

“There was a certain amount to be given and I didn’t want to ask for too much because there are a lot of other people that are in need as well.”

She said funds would go towards general maintenance and installing better lighting into the facility which runs by koha [donation].

“Quite often, the people that come in don’t have anything to spare and that’s fine – I don’t turn them away,” Bannister said.

Wairarapa Cricket Association’s female development officer Melissa Hansen said they applied for the grant to run Kia Hakinakina – a sports skills development programme delivered to schools by the cricket association.

Masterton Intermediate School is quite a big cricket-playing school, she said.

“They have about 40 to 50 girls playing cricket and a lot of those girls are Maori and Pasifika.”

There were also many Maori girls who deliver the sports coaching programme, Hansen said.

The $5000 they applied for and received from the Community Fund would go towards paying for coaches and running Kia Hakinakina.

Simon Ellis from Wairarapa Youth Charitable Trust said they would use their $5000 to encourage more girls to join the Wairarapa Boxing Academy.

Having run girls-only classes since March 2019, Ellis said the classes were used to teach life skills inside and outside the ring.

“We’ve probably got about 10 girls at the moment and what we’re quite excited about is two of them have reached the standard and degree of proficiency where they can actually compete in tournaments.

“It’s just a question now of finding suitable tournaments or, more importantly, suitable opponents for them to compete against.”

Ellis said covid-19 had given the organisation “an opportunity to take stock of what we’ve been doing and more importantly how we want to grow and expand over the coming period”.

The trust has rented its building from St John, but are now in the process of buying it, with plans to expand their services to youth – creating pathways for youth to get drivers licences, prepare resumes, develop computer skills, and obtain work experience.

“Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that there are parts of Masterton suffering from socio-economic deprivation and it’s a sad reality that a number of our members come from that sector.

“We can give them a few legs up just to put them on a level playing field – we would take that as a greater positive outcome than perhaps somebody winning medals in a tournament.”

Boys’ boxing classes are Mondays and Wednesdays and girls’ classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays at Wairarapa Boxing Academy on Dixon St.

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