New Zealand's agricultural contractors opened their wallets and raised more than $33,000 for Wellington Free Ambulance during their annual conference, which was held in Masterton 26-28 June.
Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is the industry body that represents the contractors who provide services to the country's farmers and horticulturalists. Each year it holds its annual conference in a different regional centre.
A popular event during the conference is the charity auction dinner that raises funds for the local ambulance service.
RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says this year the charity auction and other fundraising activities during the conference raised $33,345 for Wellington Free Ambulance, which provides emergency care in the Wairarapa.
"We want to thank the RCNZ sponsors, suppliers and Masterton businesses that provided the items that we auctioned off," Roger Parton says.
"I never cease to be impressed by their generosity and the generosity of the contractors and others who purchase the products they donate.
"This year the auction dinner was sponsored by Tulloch Farm Machines, which is based in Masterton. Tullochs not only donated items for the auction, they also collected a number of items from local businesses that helped make the auction a success."
Wellington Free Ambulance fundraising advisor Rachel Carr says the service is very grateful for the fundraising efforts of the Rural Contractors NZ Conference.
"We are the only emergency ambulance service in the Greater Wellington and Wairarapa region, and the only emergency ambulance service in New Zealand that is free, thanks to the generous support of our community," Rachel Carr says.
"We rely on donations to keep our service free to patients, so fundraising efforts like this are hugely appreciated."
Wellington Free Ambulance covers the whole of the Wairarapa, Greater Wellington and the Kapiti Coast. It responded to more than 57,000 incidents last in 2017.
Rachel Carr says it provides a world-class emergency ambulance service to anyone who needs it, anywhere in the region.
"We have been here for 90 years, and with the help of our community and supporters, we plan to be here for at least another 90. We receive about 75 percent of our funding from government, but still have to raise about $4 million a year to cover costs and keep the service free."
RCNZ president David Kean says the charity auction was a great night for a great cause.
"It is an honour to visit different regions around New Zealand each year and raise money for the local ambulance services. We all know the great work that they do and it is particularly valuable to rural contractors," David Kean says.
"We work in isolated areas, often on our own or on farms that we are not familiar with. Naturally we hope that nothing bad happens, but we are aware that it can. It is reassuring to know we can get help should we need it."
CAPTION --- Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Roger Parton.