By Robyn Bristow
Santa has called on a lot of elf and horse power to ensure Christmas presents reach the children of Kaikoura.
Many hands are at work gathering up presents, wrapping them and placing them under trees in readiness for them to be packed in a container and trucked north to eager young Kaikourians.
The good folk of Canterbury have swung in behind three different parties – two of them collecting presents and one from the Rolleston area which is organising a good old fashioned Christmas party in the town.
Toni Batey of Kaikoura and formerly of North Canterbury says she and her two girls, Alice aged 12 and Emma, aged 10, were walking round quake-striken Kaikoura seeing how they could help the elderly when they began talking about what Christmas was going to be like.
“I was on the verge of tears.
“I said to them there would be no Christmas presents this year and then I thought ‘gosh’ how many others would be affected as there is very few places left to shop in Kaikoura,” says Toni.
“I was a mum sitting there staring at the broken glass all around and wondering what was going to happen at Christmas.”
As a pre-school teacher and teacher of the MainPower swim programme Toni swung into gear.
She had a list of all her students and she set about contacting all the schools, pre-schools and those who were home schooled to get the numbers of children in the battered town.
She then approached Amberley School for help cheering up their Christmas.
Her project then found its way on to Facebook and within half an hour the phone calls began including one from Auckland.
Toni then approached PGG Wrightson in Rangiora to act as a base for presents to be dropped off along with the Amberley store, and then it just “snowballed”.
Her present drive has since joined up with that of Casebrook Intermediate School students Mia Ormsby, 13, and Kohana Bourke, 12, who had both experienced the Christchurch earthquakes, but a visit to Japan and seeing the “total and utter devastation”of the Kamaishi District in Japan, reinforced to them Kaikoura kids needed some Christmas cheer.
Jason Bourke of 4D Freight, came on board to help out his daughter and her friend. Crane and Carry joined in supplying a hiab and Royal Wolfe a container.
Santas sleigh is now a huge container on board a truck and it will be driven by Jason through the Inland Road on December 19 in time for a Christmas party.
“It will be basically drop and run to ensure I get back out again,” he says.
“I have been running the back end of the project. The kids have been running the front end,” he says.
Each of the three groups were now collaborating to ensure there were presents for everyone from infants to teenagers.
Jason is hopeful with about 10 more days to go before he sets out on his special delivery, that the Inland Road is going to be in good order and the weather Gods are going to be kind.
“I don’t want to turn out to be the Christmas Grinch,” he says.
Toni says there is still plenty of time for people to drop of parcels to PGG Wrightson in Rangiora and Amberley while the Christchurch City Council and Alpine Ice in Brougham St have offered to act as central city drop-off points for donors in support of Kohana and Mia’s efforts. 4D Freight in Rangiora is also taking donations for the container north of the Waimakariri River.
Toni says for anyone out of town unable to get a present to a drop off site, they can buy on line from the local Kaiakoura Paper Plus which is opening a pop up store, pay for and she will ensure its collected. Toni can be found on Facebook under Toni Batey Golf professional.
Santa will arrive in Kaikoura on December 19 and head to the St Joseph’s school grounds.
Everyone should be there by 2pm to meet the elves and fairies and wait for Santa to arrive at around 2.30pm.
“This is for all ages from babies to high school students and there may be the odd adult present to. If children aren’t in Kaikoura, they wont miss out,” she says.