Alarm as Coromandel travellers flagged down by charity collectors

Charity collectors are using checkpoints to stop drivers on a popular holiday highway and asking for cash.

The collectors, wearing high-visibility vests and waving stop-go signs, have set up on Colville Rd between Port Jackson and the Coromandel township.

The group's actions to raise funds for the Koputauaki Community Centre have stunned motorists on the 100km/h stretch and drawn safety warnings from the Automobile Association.

Joel Gardner, of Auckland, was driving with three friends when he was stopped at Easter weekend. A man had put a bucket in the passenger side window and asked for money.


"He said, 'It's a gold coin donation to get through', and the money was to 'help our community'. He didn't tell us what it was going to do," Gardner told the Herald on Sunday.

The man had also told the travellers they could have seafood being cooked nearby, but - unsettled by the unexpected fundraiser - they decided to resume their journey after handing over $4, Gardner, said.

"I was just worried. I've never seen anything like that before."

AA communications manager Liam Baldwin was concerned at the fundraising group using stop-go signs, which were meant to be used to indicate a hazard or emergency.

"If people felt they had to stop when there's no need, I don't agree with that. Give them an opportunity to decide whether they want to stop."

No one from the Koputauaki Community Centre responded to interview requests from the Herald on Sunday.

But Thames-Coromandel District Council spokeswoman Laurna White said the fundraiser was legal and she had no concerns over the initiative. Others groups, including schools, had conducted similar fundraisers in the past, she said.

The council's Thames area manager, Greg Hampton, said the Koputauaki Bay residents had not breached any council bylaw. The fundraising was allowed as long as those involved didn't cause a nuisance or obstruct traffic.


"Smaller communities will take advantage of the increase in traffic over holidays and long weekends to raise money for halls and such. Many of our communities use this type of activity to fundraise and have done so without any complaints to council. We have had no complaints about this particular event."

If anyone was concerned about the approach some communities were taking to collect money the council was happy to "work with them to help adjust their approach".

Making a donation was not compulsory, Hampton said.