The second Great New Zealand Tractor Trek begins today in Bluff and ends in Cape Reinga on Friday March 9.
Led by Trek Founder Phil Aish, a cavalcade of tractors, jeeps and trucks will travel over 2600km in 26 days to raise awareness of hospice services provided in the towns they visit while collecting donations for local hospices.
The Trek is a labour of love for Phil Aish, who did the same Trek in 2016 to honour a promise made to his wife Janice in her last weeks of life.
Phil and Janice wanted to say thank you to Hospice for the immeasurable support Mercy Hospice in Auckland provided the Aish family during Janice's last days. When discussing the practicalities of such a Trek, Janice told him to 'do it'.
"You can't put a price on having the burden of care lifted off your shoulders when someone close to you has a life-limiting illness. Hospices all over New Zealand provide people and their families with a very special type of care and support. Our family didn't know it existed until we needed it. I want other families to know that these amazing services are being provided in their own communities, so they have an opportunity to acknowledge and support them in any way they can," says Phil.
In the 2018 Trek, Phil, along with supporters, friends and family hope to collect at least $100,000, the same amount raised during the 2016 Trek.
Hospices aim to help people with life-limiting conditions to make the most of their lives; to live every moment in whatever way is important to them. Hospice care has a unique whole person approach, which means physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs are all equally important. A multidisciplinary team provides care to a person who is dying as well as their families and friends both before and after death.
Most hospice services in New Zealand have inpatient facilities, but the majority of people are cared for in their own homes. Hospice is firmly grounded in the community with more than 11,000 people volunteering more than one million hours of their time for Hospice each year.
Hospice NZ CEO, Mary Schumacher, says "Phil and the team behind The Great NZ Tractor Trek capture the hearts of people across the country- it's such a wonderful way to raise awareness of hospice services in local communities".
Hospices receive some funding from the Government, but financial support from the community is essential to meet the shortfall each year. "We're so grateful to people like Phil and his supporters who help ensure hospice care remains free of charge across New Zealand", says Mary.
Each town provides the Trekkers with a place to stay and refuel. Locals are invited to welcome the Trekkers on their arrival and all donations go directly to hospice services.
People can also support the work of Hospice by donating to the Tractor Trek NZ 2018 here.
Learn more about the Tractor Trek here.