Cullinane students crossed the Whanganui River yesterday morning in the last stretch of a four-day charity relay run.


The students from Cullinane and four other schools ran the River Road from Raetihi to Whanganui to raise money for a primary school in a struggling region.

Cullinane principal Kevin Shore ran and biked the journey alongside the students.
"We had some stunning views on the first day, but it was very hilly. We had some significant climbs.
"We were hosted by Putiki Marae and Ranana, also Parikino - we're incredibly grateful to the people of those marae.
"On the third day the kids had to climb the dreaded Gentle Anne, but when you could almost smell the salt air coming you know you're near the finish."

The final count has yet to be done but Mr Shore believes the charity relay raised $15,000 for Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti-nui-a-Toi primary school in the Bay of Plenty. The school is located in the small town of Minginui, a struggling community of roughly 1500 where only one in five adults has fulltime work.

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Josephine Gage is the principal at Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti-nui-a-Toi.
She says the funds from the race are administered by the Marist Neighbours Programme.
"We've been really fortunate that the Marist Neighbours have scholarships for three of our students."

Minginui was a forestry town but economic reforms of the 1980s caused the industry to leave and take the employment with it.
"We're a poor community, 100 per cent Maori and all on some form of benefit.
"If you watch TV and they show pictures of a poor town, they usually show us."

She says thanks to the programme funds and financial planning by the school, the children have a decent learning environment despite the town's economic situation.
"Our kids come from a low-decile base but thankfully that's not reflected in what we have at the school."