While I have always preferred English over maths, I do have at least a basic understanding of numbers. I know my Pythagoras from my pi and I know what a percentage is.

So while I might not be able to solve the Riemann Hypothesis, I do know that 32.3 per cent is not exactly a high success rate.

In fact, it's a pretty dismal number. Especially when you realise it is the percentage of eligible voters who bothered to vote in the last Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET) Election three years ago.

Just 6124 people, of an eligible 18,939, bothered to have a say in who should make funding decisions.


And 32.3 per cent is a very low number.

You know what isn't a low number - $98,800,000. That's just 1.2 million shy of $100 million. That is the total amount given out in grants by the TET since its inception in 1993.

In the last financial year alone, TET trustees handed out a total of $2,568,431 to community groups, organisations and local individuals through 164 grants.

You don't have to know your Pythagoras to know that's a whole lot of cash.

It's cash that those groups and individuals haven't had to find elsewhere. They haven't had to charge higher ticket prices for shows, increase entry fees to events, knock on your door asking you to buy bars of chocolate, or in the case of some council projects - had to increase your rates further.

Some of the things funded by the TET are big ticket items - a grant of $600,000 towards the new Stratford St John facility for example or the $1.8m granted to Waitara's multi-sports facility at Clifton Park, while other grants can be for as little as one or two hundred dollars.

It's time to vote, so make sure you do.
It's time to vote, so make sure you do.

Big or little in dollar amounts, there is no question every grant makes a real difference to the recipients and often to the wider community.

Take the $570,000 granted over the past three years to TÅ«taki Youth Inc in Stratford. That money goes directly to funding social work in the community, along with a range of programmes targeted at reducing family harm incidents and building better outcomes for the area's young people.


Or how about the $2m lent to the new hospital wing at Marinoto in Inglewood? Another project that possibly would not exist without the TET's support.

The same can be said for many of the projects the TET funds. Without TET funding there are some projects that simply will not get off the ground. If you want things like new swimming pools or children's bike parks in your community, you need trustees on the TET board who you believe will make wise decisions on funding these projects and the many more that will come through the years.

Every three years you get to have your say on who those trustees will be. You are asked to vote for the three representatives of the ward you live in who you think will look after, invest and distribute the TET money wisely.

Some of that money goes to salaries for the trustees themselves. In the year ending June 2019, a total of $153,915 was paid in trustee renumeration for the trustees. That money is distributed between the six trustees with the chair and vice chair receiving slightly more than the other trustees.

There is no question that whoever is voted in will need to work hard for that money. As well as the monthly meetings to make decisions on grants, there are countless hours involved in doing their due diligence on each application, talking to people, visiting places and finding out information. A good trustee won't just show up to a meeting once a month, they will be out in their community all the time, listening, supporting and advising to ensure the money they look after is being well spent.

They are the ones doing the hard work there, all you have to do is vote.

So take a moment tonight to get out the voting document and fill it in. Have your say in who looks after the multimillion-dollar fund our community is so fortunate to have, and let's see the numbers grow. Not just the number of dollars to be invested and used wisely, but also the number of people who actually bother to vote for the trustees who administer it.

The TET election closes at noon, Friday, June 12. Completed voting documents must have been returned by then.

They can be returned by post, or hand delivered to the Taranaki Electricity, 84 Rata St, Inglewood on Wednesdays and Fridays between 9.30am and 12.30pm during the voting period.