One of Hawke's Bay's oldest and most rapidly-growing schools is having to find other ways of fundraising after its Parent Teacher Association's biggest annual earner was cancelled at just 10 days' notice because of the Covid crisis.
The Bay View Market Day, an annual event for more than 20 years, is run by the PTA at Eskdale School, now in its 163rd year, and would have been held on Saturday at Petane Domain.
The cancellation came about after what a Napier City Council spokesperson confirmed was the health and safety team deciding it wasn't confident the market would've been able to follow the Covid-19 level 2 guidelines for events held at sports grounds, which limit the capacity to groups of 100.
Last year it raised more than $20,000 for the school which has 347 pupils, more than double the roll of 170 at the time principal Tristan Cheer arrived in 2014.
Cheer and PTA market-day convener Michelle Barnes said the funds enable the school to afford facilities not usually provided for from other sources, like a new juniors playground which is to be incorporated in a redevelopment that includes the demolition of older classrooms and building of a new 10-room block expected to start mid-2022.
"It's the children who benefit," Cheer said.
Barnes, a PTA member and whose husband recently became chairman, had more than 140 site and stallholders, many from outside Hawke's Bay, lined up and paid up when she got word 10 days ago that the plan didn't meet the requirements.
The PTA had to submit a Covid plan, in the same way it has to have a traffic management plan, because of the large crowds each year, and Barnes said the advice came "a bit late", and it would have helped if there'd been a letter earlier.
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It sparked a flurry of ultimately unsuccessful activity over the next 48 hours to save the day as the PTA considered alternatives, such as moving to a major indoor venue in Napier, and even the chairman trying to contact Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins.
The disappointed organiser said councils are each doing things differently, and other markets are able to take place, including Napier's Urban Farmer's Market in Clive Square, the Napier Sunday Market on the Marine Parade reserve, and the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market at the showgrounds in Hastings and the indoors Clive Community Market, both on Sunday.
Planning included going to other markets and fair days in the central North Island to promote the event, and Barnes said: "It's six months of hard work having to be undone."
The school, which has 12 classrooms, with two more expected on-site by the end of the term, won't be going completely without, for Barnes has already had one garage sale to sell donated items that can't be kept "in the garage" for another 12 months. There's another one this weekend, and probably more after that, along with some raffles.
Cheer said that while PTA committees had disappeared in many schools around the country with the advent of Boards of Trustees, now more than 30 years ago, the PTA at Eskdale had remained strong – "not so much in numbers but in what it does and can do for the school".