And a word of thanks to our sponsors. How often have we heard that at an event or function?

And honestly where would we be without them.

Small and big sponsors make a significant contribution to our community. And this includes individuals too. I have been a judge at the Rotorua Westpac Business Awards for a number of years.

It never ceases to amaze me at the range of community involvement the various businesses entered in the awards make to the wider wellbeing of the community. They contribute in so many ways through their sponsorship and support of local activities. These days it tends to be called social responsibility. And yet this is something they do at their own instigation. Be it by way of providing a local kohanga reo with extra resources or paying for a student who might otherwise never get the chance to attend an Outward Bound course. Or paying for replacement jerseys for a junior rugby league team for a season. Or contributing towards the travel costs for a school visit to our capital city. Businesses are in business to make money. And starting up is never without its difficulties. There has sometimes been considerable investment over a number of years with the hope that things will go well. And when they do, they give back. Many even do so from day one. Through their sponsorship involvement in the community, individuals and businesses are adding further value to the community in which they operate.


And then there are the big hitters. The national organisations and major charitable trusts who too provide substantial funding to sponsor a wide range of sporting and cultural events. Whenever I see an event advertised as "free admission" I know that some organisation or trust has stumped up to ensure as many people as possible can attend. Not all families today have extra disposable dollars. So sponsorship, be it a large or small amount, can make a big difference in numbers attending and enjoyment being shared.

I currently chair a small charitable trust. We have only $100,000 annually to distribute. Initially I had anticipated we would receive most requests for assistance for educational purposes. But the majority of the applications are to support young people in their chosen sports code. Most are high achievers and several are quite exceptional. On the way to achieving and representing their region, some already do, with others now heading off to compete overseas. This is sponsorship too. I am now convinced that it isn't only academic funding, through scholarships and sponsoring, that is valuable and worthwhile but sports applications are equally important. Young people learn so much from being engaged in a sporting activity they enjoy and excel at. Showing up is the number one rule and being part of a team, learning how important discipline, preparation and practice is. Seeing themselves improve, and rise through the various grades over time.

We take for granted sometimes the commitment of individuals, businesses and charitable trusts to sponsor events and functions so they are affordable to the average family. With admission in some cases being entirely free. No cost. This sponsorship sometimes continues for years. Through their generosity, social responsibility is not only talked about but demonstrated. You could say it is "giving something back". Everyone involved, whether a small player or a big hitter, can be assured their contribution means a lot to families who might otherwise have to stand by looking on. They can now actively engage in more activities provided in their own community.

- Merepeka Raukawa-Tait lives in Rotorua. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart the spread of political correctness.

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