Arohanui Hospice has about 220 patients in its care at any one time. In the 2017/18 financial year, Arohanui Hospice cared for 81 people from the Tararua District, ranging in age from 28 to 97.
Eketahuna saw fast and furious lawnmower racing on Saturday, March 9, for the second fundraising event for Arohanui Hospice.
The event attracted entries from as far afield as Tararaki, Waikato and Tauranga.
First race of the day was for standard ride-on mowers but as the day went on, specialised lowered and hotted-up mowers got airborne to the delight of the crowd.
"We really appreciate the fact that the Eketahuna Lawn Mower Racing Club put the event on," said Kelvin Teixeira from Arohanui Hospice (Palmerston North.) "You almost forgot they were, well, lawnmowers.
They tore around the track more like off-road go-karts."
"You almost forgot they were, well, lawnmowers. They tore around the track more like off-road go-karts."
The hospice provided palliative care for organiser Alan Gray's wife, Megan, when she was terminally ill with stomach cancer. She would watch Alan and a mate riding mowers in the paddock of their Eketahuna home, where Arohanui staff provided her with care and support.
The first meet Alan held in September last year, after Megan died in April at the age of 42.
There were eight competitors, but the latest race had 23 entered — featuring male and female drivers.
After the fundraising event, there was a night run on Saturday night, where competitors put lights on and there was no winner.
"Everyone wants to keep going and have fun. Everyone has a go," Alan said. "The hospice was just a special place. Words can't explain the work and what the people there do for you and your loved ones. The event has turned into something a bit bigger. Now it's fun for everyone else instead."
Alan is hoping to see 30 plus mowers for the event next year, which is supported by a handful of people investing time into running the races.
Club president Mike Rzoska was "spending hours getting mowers ready", said Alan.
Saturday's lawnmower racing raised $2434.60, said Kelvin Teixeira. He said the money was "gratefully received" by the hospice.
Eketahuna Lawnmower Racing Club treasurer Alan Gray said the hospice needed $7500 per day, on top of DHB funding, but it was still "bloody brilliant" for gold coin donations from a small-town event like the racing.
"With the population we've got out at Eketahuna, if everyone chucked in a gold coin who lived here, we still wouldn't get that much."
He said the spectacle hopefully put Eketahuna on the map.
Racing mowers must meet the safety and construction specifications set down by the New Zealand Lawn mower Racing Association, which recognises four classes, starting with a stock mower, a "redneck" then moving up to a Class 3 — where mowers can reach speeds in excess of 70km/h.
A Cambridge racer has been clocked at 94km/h. See the Eketahuna Lawn Mower Racing Club Facebook page.