Merepeka Raukawa-Tait: Trust ruined charity raffles

By Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

Why attempt to fix what isn't broken? New Zealanders love to try their luck buying Lotto and raffle tickets, entering competitions, and for some playing the pokies does it.

We want lady luck to smile on us. What we don't need is to be told that when we offer spot prizes in our competitions and other fundraising events, these must not exceed $500.

If they do, we are breaking the law. I think sometimes the law can be an ass.

It's hard enough these days for many organisations including schools and sports clubs to make ends meet. They often rely on the keen fundraising efforts of their members and supporters.

For years galas, raffles, garage sales and competitions with prizes have done the trick. Normally not much money is involved, so people can afford to spend and support their favourite organisation or charity.

But now apparently spot prizes could be in breach of the law.

When I took a raffle ticket recently hoping to win a motor scooter, which I didn't win, I never considered I was gambling. It was a raffle after all.

My weekly Lotto ticket, I suppose then, is gambling too. It's a game of chance.

It appears that gambling isn't that straightforward any more but do we really need to penalise those who are trying to support events and competitions, many of which are family affairs?

Such as the popular fishing competitions held all over the country during the summer.

The organisers hope they will get good registration numbers and those often depend on what spot prizes are to be given away.

I know at the Home and Garden Show there are usually spot prizes and door prizes too. So why are these prizes now after all these years coming under the gaze of the Department of Internal Affairs?

Apparently there's been a complaint. You'll never guess who from.

A pokies trust. Yes, a pokies trust.

The trust argues that its business was being undermined by events like A & P shows, fishing competitions and trade shows that gave away spot prizes such as cars, boats and holidays.

I think they are quite wrong. Many of the events where spot prizes are given out are family events. And I doubt whether these families would ever seek out a pokies venue.

The pokies trust obviously believes that spot prizes are doing them out of business.

The greedy sods. I would far rather enter a fishing competition any day than put money into a pokie machine. And don't get me started on the harm the pokies have done to family life in New Zealand.

I just find it ironic that a pokie trust had complained.

Raising money has never been an easy job, no matter how worthy the cause, and it has got tougher as times have got tough.

There just aren't the discretionary dollars around like there used to be.

I know some people who have two or three charities they have given money to year after year.

They now tell me they have had to pare it back to one.

I can understand that but it just makes it so much harder on the ones who depended on that money too.

They have to seek it elsewhere.

But committed fundraisers keep going. They look at all ways to bring in the necessary dollars to keep their doors open and to provide services.

They should not be thwarted in their attempts by busybody officials.

The Department of Internal Affairs should have told the pokies trust to "get a life".

They could use the usual "after considering your complaint we find that spot prizes and door prizes do not breach the Gambling Act 2003".

This is, after all, the same department that for years has been dragging the chain on investigating pokie trusts.

Complaints about the distribution of pokie trusts monies, earmarked for the community, are numerous.

That is where Internal Affairs should shine their spotlight.

Spot prizes and door giveaways are chicken feed compared to what they could unearth if they looked into pokie trusts.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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