It was a case of an icy plunge for a good cause as about 80 locals braved the rain and jumped into Tikitapu (Blue Lake) yesterday to raise funds for the Rotorua Life Education Trust.

The annual Dunk for Harold fundraiser, held at the Tikitapu Water Ski Club, saw sports teams, emergency services, schools and businesses jump into the lake..

Trust chairwoman Jules McLaughlin said it was "so awesome" to see.

"Everyone was cheerful and positive despite the rain."

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Julie Voss, a teacher aide from Westbrook School, won best individual costume with her pirate ship creation, with Harold as the figurehead, and Miss Voss as a pirate.

She said it had been a "random idea" and she spent all of last week after work making the costume. Miss Voss also took away a prize for best individual adult. She said the water was "very cold and icy".

When asked by the Rotorua Daily Post why she did the dunk she said, "Why not? It's for the Life Education Trust which benefits all children in Rotorua. Any excuse for dressing up".

She said it was her second or third time doing the dunk. "It's all for the love of Harold."

Miss Voss encouraged others to participate in the future.

"More people should do it next year, it's too much fun."

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Ms McLaughlin said "it was fabulous to see people go all out with their costumes".

Costumes included a Lego family, a unicorn and a stormtrooper while Westbrook School principal Colin Watkins dressed as a mermaid.

While there were several last-minute entries, Ms McLaughlin said not as much money was raised as last year, although a final tally was not available yesterday. However, there had been much talk after the dunk of people saying they would be coming back to do it next year.

"Another great year for us. We'll be doing it next year ... we'd love to see more schools involved."

Dunk for Harold fundraiser:

* Harold the giraffe is the mascot for the Life Education Trust.

* The Life Education Trust is a non-profit organisation that teaches health to 245,000 primary and intermediate school children in New Zealand each year.

* The trust is invited into schools and linked into the school curriculum.

* The Life Education philosophy focuses on creating a sensitivity to values which lead to an understanding and appreciation of human life.