Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Rowing across the ditch

A dragon boating crew will compete in world champs in Oz thanks to Jetstar.
Jetstar's Grant Kerr takes to the water with the Avonside Girls' High's dragon boating crew.
Jetstar's Grant Kerr takes to the water with the Avonside Girls' High's dragon boating crew.

A dragon boating team from a quake-damaged school is heading to the world champs in Adelaide - thanks to a $30,000 boost from Jetstar.

Avonside Girls' High in Christchurch was badly affected by the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

The eastern suburb is still in the red zone, deemed too badly damaged to rebuild on.

Many members of the boating team were displaced and living in temporary accommodation.

The school was so damaged that students were relocated to site-share with another school but are now back on school grounds in temporary classrooms until they move to new premises in 2019.

Despite the setbacks, the school dragon boating team has gone from strength to strength and has been New Zealand champions for the past two years.

Now their hard work is paying off. After receiving a $30,000 Jetstar Flying start grant, 26 girls from Year 12 and 13 will fly to Adelaide in April to compete in the Club Crew World Dragon Boating Championships.

"Our girls will do their school proud and inspire a community that has been suffering for quite some time," team coach Evan Roper said.

"The girls have been fundraising any way they can but, because the community has been so hard hit, money has been hard to come by, so the grant is a very welcome boost."

The team had raised about $20,000 towards the trip, which will cost about $50,000.

The top-up from the Jetstar Flying Start grant is made up of $15,000 of flights and $15,000 cash,

Grant Kerr, head of Jetstar New Zealand, said it was rewarding to support a dedicated sporting group that had been through so much.

"We are thrilled the grant will help to take the Avonside Girls' High School dragon boating team to the next level, representing New Zealand on the world stage and boosting morale in their community," he said.

The Jetstar Flying Start Programme invites community groups and organisations to apply for a grant of $30,000 to be used to fund a project that will enrich the lives of people in their local community.

The entries are reviewed by a panel of judges, who select a deserving community group each quarter.

Applications for the next grant close at 5pm on March 31.

Any New Zealand-based, not-for-profit community group or organisation in need of a Flying Start is encouraged to apply.

- Herald on Sunday

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