As with so many community-run events, the annual community Boxing Day picnic event at Pirongia Golf course is struggling to survive.

With an overwhelming weight of red tape restrictions and a dwindling number of volunteers, the community event, which has been held over the last 150 years, faces the very real possibility that 2018 may be the last of the hugely popular day.

Annually the event still attracts crowds of over 5000 people — down from the glory years where the crowd was estimated to be close to 12,000 in the height of its popularity.

"The event is hugely beneficial to local clubs (tennis, golf, rugby) and the schools (Pirongia and Ngutunui) who help out running the day and receive a donation for their support — with over $5000 per year going back to these groups," said Alexandra Racing Club treasurer, Layne Kerr.


"This annual event has become very much a relaxing family day, where a large number of family groups come and scatter themselves around the Pirongia golf course.

"There are games of cricket and volleyball and petanque, and all manner of family activities happening all over the place, and often the horse racing on the track is only a distraction from a relaxing day in the sun cleaning up the Christmas leftovers."

Kerr said another feature is the fact that the horse races are run as an equalisator event — taking any gambling aspect out of the day as tickets in each race are allocated on a random basis, and it is very much a raffle which punters end up with.

The Alexandra Racing Club committee is now seeking the support of the community to gauge whether there is the interest and support to continue this event.

"While the Club is on a very sound financial footing, we do need 'woman power and man power' to keep the club running," said Kerr.

"There are only three key days each year on which 'feet on the ground' are needed.

"Tuesday before Boxing Day is setup day — generally starting at 8am and having the course setup before 12pm in time for lunch.

"The second is Boxing Day itself — activities ranging from gate entry, to totaliser operations to office enquiries assistance.

"The third is the day after boxing day to clean up, emptying bins around the course and dismantling rails, once again starting at 8am and finished in time for lunch."

If you have been to the Pirongia Boxing Day Picnic Raceday in the past and have an interest in helping the club keeping the day alive for future generations, and can offer some support for any of these three key days, or in any other way, get in touch with Don Macky 021 720 420, Charlie Coles 07 871 9880 or Layne Kerr 021 179 7824.