A group of 130 leading Australasian agribusiness professionals have handed tiny Pirinoa School more than $40,000 after an impromptu fundraising event.
The Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group completed a field trip to Wairarapa late last month as part of the annual Capital Connections: Winds of Change conference in the capital and visited a pair of showcase Pirinoa farms including Turanganui Romney Stud owned by the Warren family since 1907.
PPP chairman and Wairarapa farmer Shane McManaway said the delegation included industry leaders and commentators such as Landcorp Farming chief executive Steven Carden, Professor Jacqueline Rowarth from the University of Waikato, Marlborough farmer Doug Avery, and Beef + Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons.
The Warren family had recommended Pirinoa School as a lunch venue for the PPP with pupils catering and serving meals to delegates after the entire roll of 36 children had performed a kapa haka welcome.
South Wairarapa produce on the lunch menu included paua fritters, whitebait and crayfish and the visitors were "so enamoured by the children's efforts", Mr McManaway donated a half dozen Allflex RS420 readers, each valued at $2300, which were sold at a spontaneous auction for the school.
"The children were absolutely delightful. They made a tremendous effort to welcome us to the area and we, in return, wanted to give them our help and support," Mr McManaway said.
"It's the nature of the PPP Group to dig deep and support rural communities and we are all thrilled that we raised so much money for the school.
"It is a good feeling for us to leave a positive footprint after visiting this stunning area."
The impromptu auction raised $41,500, which was presented to the school on Thursday and pupils had since created a thank you video for the group, describing how they will spend the money.
Some of the money will go toward installing heat pumps in two classrooms and upgrading the school Wi-Fi system to ultrafast broadband and to buy new kapa haka uniforms.
Mr McManaway founded the PPP group in 2005 as a means of "building an agricultural bridge across the Tasman to encourage high level debate around issues affecting both New Zealand and Australia".
He said the group has now grown from a handful of members to more than 130 of "Australasia's most influential agri-professionals" -- representing 12 million hectares (28 per cent) of farmland across the two countries and more than 20 million livestock units.