A sold-out black tie event in Whanganui next month will boost the coffers of SPCA branches across the Whanganui-Manawatu region.

The Great Debate is being staged in Heritage House on November 5 and all 15 tables, seating 10 people at $100 a seat, have been pre-sold.

Marty O'Fee, the SPCA marketing and fundraising manager in Palmerston North, said Whanganui was preferred as the venue because of Heritage House.

And Mr O'Fee has lined up a stellar cast of debaters for the night. They include notable businesswoman Theresa Gattung, recognised several times by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 most powerful women in global business, radio and Tv personality Mark Sainsbury, soil scientist and columnist Jacqueline Rowarth, and Whanganui MP Chester Borrows.


Rounding out the speakers Whanganui High School old boy and former NZ debating team member Rhaz Solomon, and current High School student Gabrielle Penn, a reserve for the national schools debating team.
hey will argue for or against the topic that taxpayers should fund the SPCA.

"It's a great line-up of debaters and we've sold out on the night," Mr O'Fee said.

Funds raised will be shared across the SPCA operations in Wanganui, Levin, Palmerston North and Feilding.

Mr O'Fee said the fundraising was vital for the animal welfare organisation which also relied on generous bequests from the public to stay operational.

Sharing the funds also signalled a major change in the SPCA structure across the Whanganui-Manawatu region which is setting a precedent for how the SPCA will operate in future across the country.

"We've currently got 47 separate branches around the country but the problem is each has its own governance, does its own fundraising and has its own individual issues.

"Five or six are under administration which means they're struggling from a governance point of view or financially. They are then administered by head office. That's what's happend in Whanganui and Feilding with the Manawatu board taking over control," he said.

He said Whanganui was on the verge of closing "but we certainly didn't want that to happen so we stepped in".

Other changes have the two regional SPCA inspectors based in Palmerston North, freeing up staff in Whanganui to concentrate on running the London St centre.

Mr O'Fee said the generosity of donors could not be underestimated. It was one bequest financed building of the Whanganui centre.

"Money's always an issue for our organisation but we've received a few bequests lately so things are looking better."

He said with the streamlining of governance across the country SPCA believed it would have a better chance of securing direct Government funding for its work.