NZSP Division 2 (Waikato)

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The History of the Australia / New Zealand Youth Exchange Program, as told by one of its founders.

A History of the Australia / New Zealand Youth Exchange Program

Written by Jim Kyle , Kiwanis Club of Matamata

The original inspiration for the commencement of an investigation in to the possibility of establishing the above scheme occurred at a coincidental meeting in Cambridge between Kerry Williams (former member of the Cambridge Kiwanis Club) and Chris Morey who was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Bendigo (Victoria).  One of the subjects touched upon at that meeting was the possibility of establishing an exchange of students between the two countries as a way of fostering the benefits of the Australian / New Zealand Goodwill Week.  In order to discuss the proposal further a meeting was organized between Kerry Williams, Eric Fleming (then a member of the Roto Whenua Club) and Matamata Club Kiwanis Club members Alan Fairweather and Jim Kyle.  The feeling of the meeting was that further investigation of the possibilities should occur but that it was important that the people involved in the exchange from both sides of the Tasman should meet face to face so that the true degree of enthusiasm and support could be accurately assessed.

To this end, those four people organized travel arrangements to Bendigo and Melbourne in July 1990.  This visit resulted in various meetings with the Bendigo Kiwanis Club and also the Kiwanis Clubs of Frankston, Dingley and Waverley in Division Six in the Melbourne area.  At those meetings, at which the draft rules and regulations were presented, there was considerable enthusiasm displayed towards the project.

The New Zealand members returned from those meetings confident in the knowledge that there was sufficient support in Australia for this proposal. However, It was recognized that the appointment of an Australian Liaison Officer to the project was of paramount importance as it was essential that we had total confidence in that person to ensure the satisfactory supervision and control for any students visiting Australia from New Zealand.  Unfortunately, it soon became aware that for reasons beyond our control our proposed liaison officer was no longer available for appointment.  That, of course, became a major stumbling block as the committee was very aware of the importance of such an appointment.

It was not until June 1993 that the writer met in Matamata Noel Legge from the Kiwanis Club of Dingley in Melbourne and requested that he consider being nominated as the liaison officer in Melbourne for our proposed scheme.  He agreed to consider that request and a meeting with the Division Two Clubs was organized for 20 June, 1993.  At that meeting Noel Legge confirmed that he would act as liaison officer for our New Zealand students visiting Melbourne and undertook upon his return to Melbourne to formulate an itinerary and accommodation for New Zealand exchangees.

The committee felt that it was now in a position to advise all clubs in Division Two of the progress that had been made and to visit those Clubs outlining the proposals and produced a budget to give each Club an idea of what their commitment would be.  In an endeavor to ensure its success, the Australian visit was to be of approximately 14 days duration.

At this stage application forms were posted to all Division Two Clubs together with various other information requesting that those clubs approach the schools in their district to distribute application forms for completion.  Although there were several minor delays in proceedings, the committee then assembled all applications for assessment and proceeded to interview all eligible applicants.

At a meeting on 18 December, 1993, Briar Spriggins, a nomination from the Kiwanis Club of Matamata, was selected as the first Australia / New Zealand Youth Exchangee to visit Melbourne.  Upon advising our liaison officer in Melbourne that our candidate had been selected, he confirmed to us that the Kiwanis exchangee to visit the Waikato from Melbourne would be Rebecca Muir.  Briar Spriggins traveled to Melbourne on 1 April, 1994 for a fortnight's experience of life in another country and undertook a rather strenuous itinerary organized by the Melbourne Kiwanis Clubs.  Upon Briar's return, Rebecca Muir traveled to New Zealand to experience two weeks of Waikato hospitality.  She also attended several Kiwanis club meetings in Division Two and was also a participant in Kamp Kiwanis near Taupo.

In 1995 Bruce Entwhistle, a former New Zealander, accepted the position of Melbourne's liaison officer on an ongoing basis.

The 1995 successful applicant was Miss Pauline Calder, a nomination from the Morrinsville Kiwaniannes Club.  Pauline traveled to Melbourne on 21 September and was hosted by the Dandenong Kiwanis Club and also the Doncaster/Templestow Club.  Unfortunately no Australian exchangee traveled to New Zealand that year.

In 1996 Jill McPherson was successful in being selected as the Division Two exchangee to Melbourne.  She was nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Putaruru and flew to Melbourne on 26 September to enjoy Kiwanis Division Six hospitality.  On that day the Melbourne exchangee Stephen Greene arrived in Auckland to begin his Waikato experience.  Stephen spent some time in Putaruru but also visited the Waitomo Caves for a caving and black water rafting experience as well as spending some time with a vet in Putaruru as he was interested in that occupation.  He also attended a joint change of officers function with the Putaruru and Tokoroa Kiwanis Clubs.

1997's successful exchangee was Michelle Isbister who was nominated by the Morrinsville Kiwanis Club and left for Melbourne on 28 September, returning on 12 October.  On 21 September, Catherine Bannon, a nomination from the Waverley Kiwanis Club in Melbourne, arrived in New Zealand to experience 2 weeks of Waikato hospitality.  Catherine's early arrival enabled her to go direct to Morrinsville where she stayed with Michelle Isbister and her family for a few days and also attended the Matamata Kiwanis Change of Officers event on 22 September.  After that it was a continuation of her journey through Putaruru, Hamilton and Te Awamutu.  This included her attendance at the combined Putaruru - Tokoroa Change of Officers function on Sunday 28 September.  Michelle had a thoroughly enjoyable 2 weeks in Melbourne at the host of various Kiwanis families.

In 1998 Lisa Woolerton, who was nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Te Awamutu, was the successful applicant.  She left for Melbourne on 27 September and returned home on 10 October.  Earlier we had been advised that Hannah Penberthy had been selected to travel to New Zealand as the Australian exchangee but just prior to her departure we were advised that in fact they would prefer to send two exchangees and sought our Committee's consent for that to happen.  After some discussion it was agreed that Division 2 would accept two Australian exchangees that year with the result that, both Hannah Penberthy and Lisa Ellman arrived at Auckland Airport on September 20 and were hosted by the Division 2 Clubs until their return on 4 October.

In March 1999, the Kiwanis Club of Doncaster/Templestowe celebrated their anniversary and our Committee took advantage of that opportunity to request the Putaruru Kiwanis Club members who were attending that function, to present Bruce Entwhistle with a plaque in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Australia/New Zealand Youth Exchange Program for some years.  The importance of the job that Bruce undertakes in Melbourne cannot be over estimated, as he is the foundation stone upon which the successful exchanges have been based in the past.

1999 also saw a procedural change in the selection policy undertaken by the Committee as the growing number of applications each year was creating a situation whereby it was impossible for all applicants to be interviewed by the same individuals.  To this end the rules were amended to ensure that all participating Kiwanis clubs conducted their own interviews and forwarded their selected candidate to a final selection panel.  That panel undertook a full day of interviews in Cambridge with the result that Michelle Wilcock, who was nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Westside Hamilton, became the successful exchangee. This was significant, as it was the first time that one of the very new Kiwanis Clubs in Division 2 had been successful with their nomination.

We were then advised that Stacey Redman, who had been nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Waverley, would arrive in New Zealand on Saturday, 18 September for a fortnight's visit and would return home on Sunday 2 October.  Stacey had a very full visit and covered an extensive part of the country from Coromandel to Mount Ruapehu and also experienced Bungy Jumping and many numerous activities.  Upon her arrival at Auckland she was taken immediately to Hamilton to have tea with the Wilcock family and thus meet her co-exchangee before traveling on to stay with the Isbisters in Morrinsville.  On 21 September she traveled to Cambridge to attend the Cambridge Change of Officers event.  While stopping in that town she was hosted by Doug and Barbara Taranaki and enjoyed the experiences of riding on Doug's Honda Gold Wing motorcycle and also being escorted in his big white Limo.  As Stacey was a very accomplished golfer opportunities were created for her to enjoy some golfing experiences in New Zealand.

In the 2000 year Peter Hughes, a nominee of the Kiwanis Club of Matamata, was our exchangee to Melbourne. Peter left on 24 September to experience two weeks of Melbourne which exceeded his expectations.  He arrived back home on 8 October.

On 16 September Rachel Parnes, who was nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Waverley, arrived in New Zealand to begin her overseas experience.  As Jim Kyle had attended the Australian Kiwanis Convention just prior to that, he had met Rachel at a Doncaster/Templestowe Kiwanis meeting, thus she knew who to look for at the airport.  Rachel visited Morrinsville, Matamata, Putaruru, Te Awamutu and Hamilton before returning to Matamata on 30 September to attend that club's 25 year anniversary celebrations.

In the 2001 and 2002 years no exchange took place as it was not possible to organize it for those years.

The 2003 year saw the re-instatement of the exchange program with the Westside Kiwanis Club being successful with their nominee Debra Sutton of Hamilton, New Zealand.  Debra left for Melbourne on 21 September, 2003, for two weeks of hosting and entertainment by the Melbourne Kiwanis clubs and attended meetings of the Waverley and Doncaster/Templestowe Kiwanis clubs.  On the same day Kerry Smallwood, who was nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Nunawading arrived in New Zealand to experience two weeks of Waikato hospitality.  She also attended the Kirikiriroa Kiwanis Club's change of officers function.  Both exchangees returned to their respective homes on the 5th of October.

The 2004 year was characterised by a unique event in that Selection Committee reported a tie between two candidates after the conclusion of the interviews.  A request was made to the Australian Co-Ordinator as to whether it would be possible to send two Exchangees and they accepted that challenge.  As a result Kani Puru, nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Kirikiriroa, and Sarah Westbury, nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Westside Hamilton, were advised that they would be traveling to Melbourne.  Of course that dictated that all Division 2 Kiwanis clubs needed to contribute extra funds as the original budget was based on one exchangee.  Those funds were readily forthcoming with the result that both exchangees left for Melbourne on 19 September, 2004.  On the same day Elise Woodrow, nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Nunawading, arrived in New Zealand to begin her overseas experience.  She made visits to all the customary places and attended meetings of the Morrinsville and Westside Kiwanis clubs, as well as having a ride in a microlight.  She returned home on the 3rd of October, the same day that Kani and Sarah returned from their enjoyable Australian experience.

In 2005 no exchange took place as it could not be organised that year.

In 2006 the Exchange was re-instated with Joshua Verstraten, a nomination from the Matamata Kiwanis Club, being the successful candidate.  Joshua left for Melbourne on the 24th of September to experience two weeks of hosting and new experiences in a big city, but also saw some of the countryside outside Melbourne.  He returned on the 8th of October.  The successful Australian Exchangee was Judy Ng (pronounced Ing) who was nominated by the Kiwanis Club of Waverley.  Judy arrived on the 16th of September and was hosted by the Isbister, Ranson, McIvor, Murphy and Howser families.  She also toured the Coromandel, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and the Waitomo Caves before returning to Melbourne on the 30th of September.

Under the rules of the scheme, the committee meets the costs of a return airfare to Melbourne ex Auckland, medical and travel insurance, $200 spending money and airport departure tax at both airports.  Basically the successful applicant is only required to meet the cost of a passport and also make a small contribution towards the costs of the experience.  The selection policy revolves around the consideration of candidates from families where the circumstances are such that the child would have no chance of overseas travel but of course that person must have a capacity to cope in a different environment.

The committee would like to place on record the support that it has received from clubs in Division Two as the scheme could simply not function if those clubs did not continue to make their annual contributions.  Also the ongoing contribution of Bruce Entwhistle is a major factor in the scheme's success.

Overall it can be fairly said that the scheme has proved to be quite an outstanding success and the correspondence received from the participating clubs in Melbourne is most encouraging.

M. J. Kyle
Committee Secretary