Regional | Community

Community unites to raise $150k for Mana College trip to Europe

Students, teachers, and whānau at Mana College in Porirua have contributed towards and raised almost $150,000 for a German language class trip to Europe and hope to raise another $40k by December this year.

The group of 21 students will travel to Singapore, Denmark, Germany, France and Italy.

The students have been fundraising since September 2023 through sausage sizzles, raffles, bake sales, hāngi sales, holding discos, quiz nights and comedy nights.

Some have started their own businesses weeding, dog walking, painting houses and fences and odd jobs. Students, teachers, and some whānau have gone to the effort of travelling to Wellington via train to clean stadiums after concerts and sports games, sometimes returning home at 2am.

The students had to meet individual fundraising targets to contribute towards flights and they combined forces for the rest.

“I think there was times where we thought it wasn’t going to happen because we kept pushing the date back,” said one of the students, Jayden Mill (Ngāti Porou), “but once we started fundraising more and got the money up, I think it came to life more.”

In fundraising almost every weekend since December, students said they’ve learned teamwork, practical life skills and entrepreneurial skills.

Hine Funaki-Cole, māmā of student Blade Funaki (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and Ngāti Raukawa) told Te Ao Māori News some of the students and parents seem to be getting fundraiser fatigue.

Many parents and teachers help with the group fundraising, by baking, contributing goods for raffles, selling tickets to their friends and whānau, drop-offs, pick-ups, on top of other life responsibilities.

“It has taken a lot of time outside of school including weekends, holidays and now with illnesses, it can all get a bit much but together we remain hopeful.”

Usually, Mana College sources sponsorships through Pelorus Trust or other avenues but they can’t access these funds to travel outside New Zealand. So, the students at Mana College, their parents and teachers, and the community have all worked together in fundraising.

Funaki-Cole also said that for some students this trip had incentivised them to come to school and engage.

The students have signed an agreement that to go on the trip they must pass their NCEA, have an attendance of 93% and have decent engagement scores (which measure focus and how well students do in class).

Angela Kururangi, māmā of student Leahcim Ngatai-Wereta (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa) said throughout the fundraising campaign, her son had realised how hard it had been on himself, his friends, the parents and the teachers. “But he is really proud of himself in terms of how much mahi he has been capable of doing on top of college.”

At first Ngatai-Wereta started helping with fundraisers without being included in the trip but his efforts secured him a place in the group.

“He has encountered a lot of tall poppy syndrome throughout the fundraising campaign but has learned for himself this isn’t ‘just a trip away’. It’s an experience of a lifetime, becoming fully immersed in another culture, something that he has never experienced before. For us as a whānau it feels so good to be a part of something positive and enriching for once.”

“I just want to say thank you to the community that has been supporting us, you know, all the fundraisers and the raffles and stuff, you know, supporting us.” Ngatai-Wereta said.

The group is aiming to reach their fundraiser target by December and to help, you can donate here.