The Rotary Club of Oamaru meets fortnightly on a Wednesday, usually at The Galley Cafe at the bottom of Wansbeck St.

Guests Welcome!

If you would like to attend a meeting, simply RSVP.

Do you want to serve your community? Join like minded Oamaru professionals who take action in our community to raise funds with projects like Bookarama, auctions, selling Christmas Trees, running chocolate wheels and more. These funds benefit our community in many ways which in the past has ranged from funding students to courses, purchasing a van for the Kindergartens, lighting up the Craig Fountain, buying equipment for the hospital, art for the Forrester Gallary,  and contributing to the new sports centre. 

Funds are also used to make a difference globally with Bill and Melinda Gates paying two dollars for every dollar raised by Rotary toward ending polio.

As well as fundraising we also use the experience of our members to develop our youth with sessions on Interview and CV skills, or to improve our environment with planting projects.

Join our team of Rotarians and bring your skills and experience to benefit our district.


Rotary Club of Oamaru adress by 2023 Rotary National Science & Technology Forum Attendee Emma Spittle.

The Rotary Club of Oamaru recently had the pleasure of hearing from Emma Spittle who attended this years Rotary National Science and Technology Forum.

The forum is held annually in Auckland/ Tamaki Makaurau and is an  intensive  2 week programme attended by Year 12 seconadry school students with a passion for Mathematics, Science and Technology. 

There are a maximum of 168 places available each year, making selection to attend this event both prestigious and sought after. 

Local Rotary clubs receive nominations from school Science heads of Department and interview applicants, passing their recommendations onto the Rotary District commitees who grant the final approval for students to attend.

While there students attend two, three hour lectures a day which are hosted by the University of Auckland, the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Massey University.   Here they develop an insight into the broad range of science, mathematics and technology courses available for study, the requirements for tertiary study applications and an insight into future career opportunities available. In addition, they visit a number of commercial or academic science or technology organisations.  

Examples of organisations visited in the past are : Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Living Cell Technologies, TVNZ, Foodbowl, AUT Millennium High Performance Centre, Air New Zealand, Beca Limited, Landcare Research, Watercare, the Auckland Zoo and ESR. 

The event culminates in a formal dinner where guest speakers are invited to address the forum. Previous speakers include;

You can learn more about the Forum , the  associated Trust and their background and acitivties here : https://rotarysciencetechforum.wordpress.com/

A copy of Emma's address to the club is attached for those who were not able to attend or those otherwise interested.

Rotary Forum Speech.pdf

The Rotary Foundation Newsletter, January 2023.

The first  TRF newsletter of the year is out now and is attached for your reading pleasure.  News items covered are listed below;


-Polio Plus update 

-Rotary Give Every Child a Future 

-District Grants update 

-Global Grants update 

-Osiligi Training Farm Upgrade Project 

-New Global Grant project – support needed please! 

TRF_Newsletter_Jan 2023.pdf

Limbs Risked

10th December 2022

On Saturday a group of chainsaw owning Rotarians attacked almost 100 self seeded pine trees for sale on Sunday next to Scott's Brewery from 10am. Trees are priced between $10 for smaller ones, $15 for medium and $20 for large ones. 

Cure our Ovarian Cancer 

7th December 2022

Another fantastic Rotary Christmas party was hosted by the Ludemann family on Wednesday in support of Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, an organisation which raises funds to pay for research into a disease which has traditionally been under-researched. Their website provides guidance for health professionals, reports for political leaders, and perhaps most importantly it raises awareness of the symptoms of Ovarian cancer which even doctors often struggle to recognise and diagnose. The symptoms are abdominal or pelvic pain or discomfort, increased abdominal size or bloating, bowel habit changes, eating less and feeling fuller, needing to urinate more often or urgently and fatigue. If any one of these symptoms are new, unusual or getting worse and persists for more than two weeks then see a doctor.

Rotarians attending the party made a donation in support of Cure our Ovarian Cancer, and anyone who also wishes to donate can do so online.

The Christmas party was also attended by most Rotarians' partners and several guest speakers from throughout the year which made it the ideal occasion to award Paul Harris Fellows, commonly referred to simply as 'PHF', which is awarded to someone who has made a donation of $1,000 USD or had that donation made in their name to the Rotary Foundation

Paul Harris Fellows were awarded tp Stewart Anderson, Dr Bronwyn Goldrick, and Bob Sutherland for their decades of time, money and effort they had dedicated to Rotary. Remarkably, Ross Mitchell was awarded his third Paul Harris Fellow, known as Three Sapphire. 

Congratulations to all of the Paul Harris Fellows, and thank you for your contribution to Rotary to allow us to support important causes such as Cure Our Ovarian Cancer.

Bookarama raises record $56,790

By Kayla Hodge, The Oamaru Mail.

This year’s Bookarama exceeded all expectations.

The official total from The Rotary Club of Oamaru’s annual book sale was a record-breaking $56,790, surpassing last year’s record of $42,000.

Convener Ele Ludemann said the group was ‘‘absolutely thrilled’’ with the success of the event, held in May.

‘‘It’s been our best yet,’’ Mrs Ludemann said.

She put this year’s success down to the high quality of books, the support from the community and the central location of the old Noel Leeming building in Thames St.

‘‘It’s kind of become an event. People look forward to it [and] lots of people come back more than once,’’ she said.

‘‘While we prefer to have everything before we start because then we can get it all sorted easily, we do take books while we’re selling, so that means there’s always some new books coming on, so people keep coming back.’’

Bookarama was extended for an extra week this year, due to popular demand, she said.

‘‘We had so many good books still left we carried on.’’

The money raised this year will be split between different community projects. Rotary has already given $10,000 to Cure Our Ovarian Cancer research, and other money will go towards the Waitaki Event Centre project and the Oamaru Public Library, for a 3D printer.

Because the money raised this year was more than expected, other community projects, which were yet to be finalised, would also benefit, Mrs Ludemann said.

‘‘That’s why we do it — it’s a community project.’’

There had been some requests from the community this year for Bookarama to start on a Friday, rather than a Monday, so the ‘‘bulk of the books’’ were still there at the weekend. This would be taken into consideration for next year’s event, she said.

‘‘There’s a challenge to make sure next year’s even better still.’’

Rotary members had started preparing for next year’s event now, and would be collecting books throughout the year — ‘‘we never say no’’ — and storing and sorting them at the old BNZ building.

Mrs Ludemann asked people to make sure books were stored somewhere clean and dry.

‘‘Because we do get books that have been in outdoor sheds or garages that have been damp or dirty, and sadly we just can’t sell them.’’

She was ‘‘incredibly grateful’’ to the community for its ongoing support of the annual book sale.

Putting the faces to the policies

By Kayla Hodge, The Oamaru Mail

Waitaki district mayoral and council candidates have faced their community at several Meet the Candidates events this month.

The gatherings have been held across the region, giving residents and ratepayers the opportunity to learn more about the two mayoral and 20 councillor candidates, and meet them face-to-face.

More than 100 people attended the Rotary Club of Oamaru meeting, held at the Brydone Hotel last Wednesday, to meet the Oamaru, Corriedale and Waihemo ward candidates.

Keegan Wilson and Jock Howie, standing for Oamaru ward, were not present.

Ahuriri candidate Brent Cowles, who stands unopposed, was present at the meeting, but did not speak.

Each candidate talked briefly about their background, and what they stood for, before facing questions from the audience.

Topics covered, included Three Waters, Oamaru Hospital, vaccine roll-outs and mandates, roading, the council’s transformation programme and community diversity.

When asked if candidates supported the Government’s Three Waters reform, 15 candidates said they were opposed.

Mayoral candidate Paul Mutch said he supported it until there was an ‘‘alternative to getting good water’’, while council candidates Scott Elliffe, Tim Blackler and Garry Dodd did not believe it was a yes or no answer.

All candidates unanimously agreed there was a need for public transport in the district.

Candidates answers were split when asked if they agreed with the vaccine rollout and mandates — some agreed with the vaccine, but not some mandates, others did not agree with it, while some said they were in favour of both.

Incumbent councillor Hana Halalele, who ran vaccination clinics with the Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group, received a large round of applause when she said she made ‘‘no apology’’ for helping protect her community.

Incumbent councillor Jim Hopkins also received a loud response when speaking about the impact central Government was having on the district’s roads, and the work being done to them.

‘‘This is typical of what’s happening at the moment. Wellington is not only saying what we have to do, but how we have to do it,’’ Mr Hopkins said.

‘‘Less Wellington, more Waitaki.’’

Candidates were also asked their views on whether the Oamaru Hospital could change from being a council-owned hospital, if it was proven to be more beneficial.

Mayoral candidate Paul Mutch said the only way the hospital could receive equal Government funding was if the funds were held in a separate trust, with trustees who were not part of the council.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, who is seeking his fourth term, said the belief the hospital was better off being owned by a trust separate from the council was ‘‘simply not correct’’.

‘‘There is no difference around the funding that happens between the hospital that’s owned through a CCO (council-controlled operation) by the community, with a hospital that’s owned by a trust,’’ Mr Kircher said.

‘‘The reality is at the moment if it was going to be more beneficial than keeping the ownership the way is it, I’d totally support that.

‘‘It is fundamentally inequitable that hospitals around the country can run deficits and the tax payer goes and pays that deficit, when our one runs deficits, and if it comes to that, which is hasn’t yet, because there’s only ever been loans, if it comes to to it then the ratepayer has to fund it and that is not fair.’’

Another meeting held at Oamaru’s Business Hive on Tuesday evening, was co-ordinated by Business South Waitaki navigator Rebecca Finlay, and attended by about 60 people.

Sitting councillor Kelli Williams, Corriedale Ward candidate Guy Percival, and Waihemo Ward candidate Gervais O’Reilly were not present.

Each candidate spoke for three minutes, and then had the opportunity for a ‘‘speed-dating’’ style chance to interact with the audience.

People were moved around every three minutes, and members of the audience had the opportunity to speak to the candidates one-on-one, before the evening wrapped up with a 30-second quick-fire summation from each candidate.

Other meetings have also been held in Hampden and Palmerston.

European exchange goes viral

Rotary Youth Exchange

By Ashley Smyth, The Otago Daily Times

When 16-year-old Penny Keeling boarded a plane for a year in Switzerland last January, Covid-19 was an obscure virus in China slowly worming its way into the public’s consciousness.

Two months later, almost to the day, the former St Kevin’s College student was being locked down along with the rest of the world. The only difference was, she was living with almost complete strangers who spoke a different language.

On January 12, Penny left New Zealand as part of the Rotary Exchange Programme.

with other exchange students, two weeks of language camp and a two-week ski holiday, she landed in a town called Zug, in central Switzerland.

“It was a pretty relaxed introduction to what life is like, and showed me how little German I understand.”

On starting school, she found it difficult. Although the Swiss spoke German, it was “Swiss German”, even more challenging for Penny to understand.

“Teachers taught in High German, but as soon as the bell rings, they switch to Swiss German. So I would understand even less at lunchtime.”

The length of the school days varied. A long day ran from 8am to 5pm, and the class would stay together the whole day, Penny said.

“I liked school over there, because the school system was quite different.”

But she only had three and a-half weeks of regular school before the country went into lockdown.

Penny found herself home-schooling in a language she barely understood. Her host parents were both working, so she was home all day with just d her 12-year-old host sister.

“She didn’t speak enough English to converse .. and I didn’t speak any German, so it was quite lonely.”

She spent most of her day in her room and, due to the language barrier, struggled with schoolwork.

Although lockdown began to ease in June, online schooling ran until the summer holidays, which began in July.

Luckily, in April, Penny found an escape from the confines of her bedroom in the form of a nearby farm.

A member of the Swiss Rotary owned a tertiary farm, similar to Balclutha’s Telford. Because of the lockdown, it had no students and was short-staffed.

Having grown up on a dairy farm in Duntroon, she jumped at the chance to work there.

She was given special dispensation from full-time schooling, on the proviso she kept up her German, English and maths classes.

“So I worked on a farm until the summer holidays. It was a dairy farm with 75 cows, but it was all automatic.”

Milking, feeding and cleaning were all robotic, she said.

“That was a cool experience because I got to see a different way of dairy farming from what I was used to. And it meant I was actually able to go outside during the day.”

As the year progressed, Switzerland’s Covid-19 cases dropped and the country started to open up again.

Penny spent her summer holidays with a new host family on a rural property in France, near the Spanish border. A three-week European tour with other Rotary exchange students had to be cancelled, as did a ski trip.

When school started back mid-August, case numbers were slowly creeping up again and students had to wear masks. Then in November the numbers skyrocketed.

“We got up to like 17,000 to 20,000 new cases a day,” she said.

“I think our new infections per capita were second highest in the world.”

There were restrictions on gatherings, but schools remained fully open.

“We wore our winter jackets inside because the doors and windows were getting opened every 30 minutes, from 7.30am in the morning.”

As she left in January, people were back working from home, and gatherings were heavily restricted.

After completing managed isolation in central Auckland, she was now happy to be back home in Duntroon briefly, before starting a physics degree at the University of Canterbury.

She said the hardest part of her trip was the uncertainty of the first lockdown and not knowing if she should “wait it out”.

Highlights were skiing, the people she met and friends she made along the way.

She was extremely grateful to Rotary in Oamaru and Switzerland, who made her feel safe and cared for during the whole tumultuous time.

Rotary Club of Oamaru president Michael Robinson was full of praise for Penny, after she made a presentation to the group last week.

“She has done incredibly, incredibly well to be away from home, out of her comfort zone, and to blossom and get that experience.

“To go through what she did, she’ll be all the stronger for it . . . kudos to her. She’s amazing.”

The Rotary Youth Exchange programme was now on hold.

 - Ashley Smyth