Grants show navy's close ties with Bay

By Roger Moroney

Hawke's Bay is the toast of the Royal New Zealand Navy, having cemented its place as the best region in the country for providing top-class recruits.

As a result of the region's annual ability to provide it with a good number of excellent young people, the navy is set to give something back in the wake of a charity cocktail evening staged aboard HMNZS Te Mana last Friday night.

The Bay's navy liaison officer Lieutenant Commander Neville Smith said the function, which was embraced by many of the region's businesses and which sold out in just four days, raised $36,000 which would be put back into three of the secondary schools which had been long-time supporters of the navy.

The event itself drew $18,000 which was matched by the Service Trust.

Lt Cdr Smith said the money would be put together as the HMNZS Rotoiti Education Grants, and meant that each school would receive annual grants of $2000, continuing for six years.

The HMNZS Rotoiti was "home-ported" to Napier in 2007 and last night's function was the latest in a series of fundraising events steered by the navy and Lt Cdr Smith.

A dinner staged at the Mission last year raised $108,000 for the Christchurch earthquake relief fund, while in 2007 the crew of HMNZS Rotoiti completed a successful fundraising campaign which raised $15,000 for the ship's chosen charity which supports vision impaired children in Hawke's Bay.

The HMNZS Rotoiti Education Grants were first set up at Napier Boys' High School and Taradale High School in 2009 and for three years two $1500 grants were awarded to each.

Lt Cdr Smith said the scheme had now been expanded to three schools - Hastings Boys' High School having been added - with one student from each school, who was lining up a navy career, set to receive the annual $2000 grant.

He said the navy's support for the Bay schools was brought about by the response the service got in terms of recruiting.

The navy's strong longstanding relationship with the Bay was reflected in this year's recruiting figures from 13 main centres and regions across the country.

This year 30 young people from the Bay, mainly from the three Napier schools, joined up - more than Wellington or the whole of the South Island.

"Per capita of population we were tops," Lt Cdr Smith said.

"Recruiting in Hawke's Bay has been fantastic and not only is it numbers but we achieved top academic results as well."

The top recruit for the year went to Ordinary Diver Luke Leadbetter from Napier Boys' High, and the Dux Officer of the Watch Bravo went to Midshipman Matthew James, also from Napier Boys' High.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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