Three Rotorua community groups will receive almost $700,000 between them after successfully applying for BayTrust grants.

BayTrust today announced at its Annual Public Meeting it had granted a total of $4.3m to community groups across the region in the past financial year - an increase of 50 per cent - and further increases are likely in the next 12 months.

The successful Rotorua organisations were Rotorua Hospice, W.I.S.E Better Homes Charitable Trust, and NZ Blue Light Ventures.

Rotorua Hospice will receive $300,000 towards their new building, W.I.S.E Better Homes Charitable Trust $116,000 to help subsidise home insulation for low income households, and $279,475 over three years to NZ Blue Light Ventures for a new driver navigation programme in the Bay of Plenty.

NZ Blue Light national manager Brendon Crompton said the ground-breaking pilot programme would help Rotorua youth aged 16-24 progress through the graduated driver's license system.


"This programme will help make them safer drivers, reduce road trauma, and open up employment and training opportunities for them."

Mr Crompton said those who didn't have access to a vehicle or a fully-licensed adult to train them or who couldn't afford professional lessons or the tests themselves would be eligible for help.

Last year young Bay of Plenty drivers accumulated $1.8m in fines for breaching their learners or restricted licence conditions so Blue Light aimed to help people advance through the system to gain their full licence.

"This programme is about prevention and providing the support they need to get out of that cycle. Without BayTrust's support this pilot would never have gotten off the ground. We'd like to say a big 'thank you' for allowing this programme to come to life,"he said.

Speaking at BayTrust's 28th Annual Public Meeting in Tauranga today, Board Chairman Kenneth Brown said the trust's investments delivered a three per cent return over the past financial year.

"However, as a result of building up our grant reserves in earlier years we managed to increase our granting from $2.9m to $4.3m."

BayTrust has continued to grant 'social loans' at low interest rates (largely to social housing providers), and has also put more resources into helping strengthen community groups and improve the way they operate.

11 community groups in total around the Bay of Plenty received an average of over $200,000 each for a significant project this year.

BayTrust Chief Executive Alastair Rhodes told today's meeting the recipients of the inaugural Strategic Funding Round had been announced. A total of $2.4m was available to fund projects that will make a measurable and meaningful difference and help make the Bay of Plenty the greatest place to be.

"We had 45 applicants for the first round of this fund, and have committed funding to 11 groups and projects spread throughout the Bay of Plenty, from Hospice, to housing to youth engagement," said Mr Rhodes.

"BayTrust would like to congratulate the successful recipients and also to thank all 45 groups for submitting applications. It was very hard for us to make the final call on who not to fund, as all projects were great."

Rotorua Hospice ($300,000 towards a new hospice building); the W.I.S.E Better Homes Charitable Trust ($116,000 to help subsidise home insulation for low income households); NZ Blue Light Ventures ($279,475 over three years for a new driver navigation programme in the Bay of Plenty), the Graeme Dingle Foundation ($150,000 over three years for local Project K, Kiwi Can and Star programmes); Tauranga Community Housing Trust ($310,000 for their Waihi Rd social housing development); The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society ($200,000 for a new Plunket building in Te Puke); Taupo Blue Light Ventures ($165,000 over three years for its programmes); Central Plateau REAP ($150,000 over three years for its family and mentoring programmes); the Opotiki District Council ($300,000 towards building a new multifunctional library, research and technology centre); and Rangimarie Trust ($182,000 towards building four new social housing units in Opotiki). Habitat for Humanity will also receive a $125,000 social loan to help build 8-10 new homes in the Western Bay of Plenty.