Little Elms 10 Year Anniversary

Little Elms

Charitable Trust


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The continuing history of 26 years of support to the families of young victims of cancer and other nasty ailments highlights the amazing commitment by the Hawkes Bay Road Transport industry in their endeavour to demonstrate to our local population the importance of the leviathons [leviathans] of the road to the local growth of our challenging economy. Following a public relations initiative promoted nationally by the Road Transport Forum New Zealand in 1992 to counter an adverse reputation from motorists as the result of larger, longer and heavier rigs that were appearing on our roads, “Kids Ride in a Truck Day” events were staged throughout NZ with the income from these directed to local child cancer organisations. Following our initial local Truck Cavalcade in 1992 that attracted 40 vehicles with a $7,100 surplus being generated, the Hawkes Bay area repeated the event in 1995 with 70 vehicles attending raising $14,000. Trucking for Hawkes Bay Child Cancer Charitable Trust (TFHBCCCT) was created in 1995 to ensure that money raised locally was to specifically support local families. Since then the very popular Cavalcade has been held biennially and now caters for up to 240 beautifully presented vehicles which until 2017 has raised an astonishing $232,000. This bounty has largely been returned to various child-oriented charities in Hawkes Bay. In 2014 the name was altered by substituting “Cancer” for “Care” in order to recognise the fact that other nasty ailments were equally worthy of TFHBCCCT’s support. Of great pride to the Trustees and volunteers of TFHBCCCT is the fact that our Cavalcade is the only one in NZ that has had the continuity to this date (2017).

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The quantum leap to land and building ownership was triggered when, in 2007, the Hawkes Bay Branch of the Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) to whom our fundraising was donated, spoke to TFHBCCCT Trustees regarding a wish to fund for dedicated family support premises of their own. Serendipitously, John Elms, a 2nd generation transport operator had his family’s truck yard adjacent to Hastings Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital on the market and had an offer from a developer that was due to go unconditional on the following Friday. Trustees of TFHBCCCT were alerted to this on the preceding Monday and went into negotiation to purchase. John amazingly and dramatically reduced the asking price because of his goodwill toward us as fellow road transport oriented folk and also because the Elms Family had had their own contact with the dreaded C for which they had previously purchased and donated a house adjacent to the Cranford Hospice in Hastings. Four days was all we had to finance this deal. Through the amazing generosity of Cally (Little Elms’ Patron) and Colin White of the J D Harris and Family Charitable Trust, (continuing the long standing extended family generosity to HB features such as Hohepa Homes, McLean Park and several Marine Parade playground areas), this fine couple instantly and unhesitatingly donated the funds required and we were able to become the owners of 310 to 314 Orchard Road. These actions were the furtherance of the trust and amazing community spirit that prevails in Hawkes Bay.

It was


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Later that same year the local Carters Building group and the HB branch of the Certified Builders organisation agreed to build a transportable home in a carpark on Napier’s beachfront in an amazing 3 DAYS. Upon completion the home would be auctioned with the proceeds to be donated to Cranford Hospice in Hastings. Immediately following the successful auction on August 4th 2007 in an informal and low key debrief, the 2 principal organisers, Peter Edwards from Carters Building Group , and Richard Kepka from Certified Builders, along with a volunteer who had assisted during the build project, Selwyn Hawthorne, a Trustee of TFHBCCCT, sat on the beachfront where the question was asked “what do we do next?” This turned out to be a great segue for Selwyn who just couldn’t miss this opportunity and he suggested that TFHBCCCT had within the last month purchased some land in Hastings that needed an office built on it for use by the Child Cancer Foundation. The seed was sown and Little Elms (LE) started to evolve into the a $1.37million dollar showpiece that it is today.

Fundraising for the then undecided plans and layout began in October 2007 when the $12,000 proceeds of a South Island Classic Truck Rally that Selwyn Hawthorne was part of, with the on-road piracy and funds from an auction at the final dinner under the auspices of the Bill Richardson Truck Museum in Invercargill, became the seeding money for the project. Eventually the balance of the funding came from within the Hawkes Bay District Health Board’s footprint, which at that time included the Chatham Islands. Presentations by Selwyn to many Rotary, Lions, and Probus Clubs, Women’s Institutes and Guilds along with applications to most Gaming Foundations seeking funds proved fruitful. In addition to the amazing Family Trust that enabled the land purchase, there were 5 major donors, the Hawkes Bay Freemasons, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, the Weem Trust and Stortford Lodge Rotary Club who each purchased chalets and in the case of the Eastern and Central Community Trust, the Respite House. Great courage was shown by later donors because the

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world’s financial status changed just 6 weeks prior to the start of the Build when in August 2008 Lehman Bank in the USA collapsed kicking off the Global Financial Crisis. There were many sleep deprived nights in the lead-up to kick-off on 6 October 2008 but with promises such as LE being the beneficiary of a later truly star studded golf tournament to be promoted by the Robertson Family at Cape Kidnappers and an assurance from the aforementioned Harris Family Trust to underwrite any shortfall, we felt that we had a green light.

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Through a monumental effort over 14 months by Peter Edwards/Carters, all of the necessary building suppliers and trades were encouraged by him to join and to be partners in the build. When the project planning had been completed a retired building contractor Charlie Trask generously offered his services as building coordinator. A great team indeed.

Initially the construction of LE was looked upon by many in the community as a pipe dream and certainly by some within the HB District Health Board but when the foundation slabs were poured in early September 2008 this view quickly changed, assisted by the moral support that Doctor Russell Wills had offered from the time he first heard of our plans for the site.

The first job that needed to be done on site was the underground infrastructure that was generously undertaken by local members of the NZ Civil Contractors (NZCC) organisation and their suppliers. This was designed to have the capacity to service an expanded operation in the future. The kerbing was also poured at this stage. NZCC were still there during the Build represented by the amazing amount of hired lighting, scaffolding and safety equipment etc.

At 6.00am on the showery morning of 6 October 2008 following a Karakia and walkthrough led by Haami Hilton from Ngati Kahungunu, 120 tradesmen went to work with great gusto on the 6 (by now cured) concrete foundation slabs. Competitive attitudes that existed previously between NZ Master Builders in orange hi-vis and the NZ Certified Builders in yellow hi-vis were put aside and the harmony on site was a joy to behold. The somewhat itinerant nature of the building tradesmen led to many renewed acquaintances and subsequent nostalgia. Initially many tradies had committed to a day’s free labour but in numerous instances this was generously extended to, in one case, a full week. All of this demonstrated the community spirit that had been so obvious during fundraising.

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Work progressed so well that the first sheet of roofing iron was fitted late on the first day. By now there was the full gamut of trades represented on site, the plumbers and electricians were working their magic, roofers were perching, insulators, air conditioners, Gib-fitters and long legged plasterers, telecom and security technicians progressively doing their thing as the carpenters moved out, everyone so busy, so motivated, so happy, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. With regard to the building materials and component input to the project, the generosity of suppliers was staggering. Most companies heavily discounted their contribution while others gifted their products. On top

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of that, Future Proof Building Group had earlier agreed to upgrade where possible donations of many items to the highest specification at their cost.

From a large marquee erected on our neighbour John Elms’ lawn all workers were fed and watered courtesy of the many voluntary ladies from CCF and other organisations who were supported by the generous donations from food and drink suppliers and caring homemakers in our twin cities.

The Carters PR team assisted greatly by giving the event a Celebrity status through recruiting stars such as Buck Shelford, TV3’s “Money Man” Brendon Johnson, Greer Robson from TV2’s “Shortland Street” along with the inimitable Cocksy of Carter’s TV2 “My House, My Castle” building programmes to attend during the week of the build. These folk were very real drawcards, and during the week inspired all of the volunteers with their ability to muck-in, to lift this, to hold that, to take these commands and of course to be in a selfie. Bless you guys! The HB Magpies Rugby team also fronted to lend a hand on Thursday afternoon led by coach Peter Russell. Thank you all so much.

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Work continued at a mind boggling rate in the by now improving weather, the electricians and plumbers were still working their magic, and by Wednesday the 8th the Gib lining was being prepped for painting. By Friday the 10th the interior decorators got busy with the fitting out of drapes, blinds, carpets, appliances and finally the furniture. Like most of the materials of the build many of these items had been donated or heavily discounted to support the plight of parents of challenged children. Big Save Furniture was a massive save. Late on Friday the landscapers moved on to the site and transformed what had resembled for four days a seething ant colony into a beautifully manicured and restful garden fit for people who needed space to reflect on their immediate plight, one of a child in a ward across the road compromised by an ailment nobody would ever wish on them. From his personal experience of this situation Angus McMillan even managed to sculpt into the paving some delightful figures to brighten any child’s day.

Saturday was also a gardening day. The commercial cleaners had knocked on our door to wipe this, to polish that and to make everything spick and span. There was a pond to setup beneath our “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” that gives access to the office and family support centre.

Media promotion was a dream with TV1, TVHB, Maori TV and TV3 (who coincidentally launched their new Good Morning format on the first morning of the build), on site and they were supplemented by More FM broadcasting daily from an on-site OB caravan studio. Our longstanding

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Truck Cavalcade partnership with HB Today newspaper had already additionally assisted with Little Elms publicity during the 12 month lead-up to the Build-Off with numerous updates of onsite progress.

Sunday 12th October 2008 dawned with magnificent weather. For the patient local community who had put up with tradesmen’s vehicles and big loads of materials congesting Orchard Road all week there was a fun day with food, events, a band and play structures on Kirkpatrick Park.

Ten magnificently pimped trucks lined up along Orchard Road in one final territorial claim by local Road Transport Industry companies to greet the families for whom the premises were built; for the benefactors, for the dignitaries, for the hundreds of volunteers who had given their all, and for the well-wishers who turned up to demonstrate the true meaning of the words Aroha and Community and the benefit of their synergy.

Reverend Buck Johnson commenced the dedication with a Karakia, and speakers Ngahiwi Tomoana from Ngati Kahungunu, Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, Wairoa Mayor Les Probert, and TFHBCCCT’s founding Trustees, Ian Emmerson and Sandy Walker were enthusiastically received. Despite his deteriorating health it was a thrill to have John Elms present along with his son David and daughter Susan. Each of the 5 buildings was individually blessed by a local minister or chaplain and then the gathered guests and public were able to inspect the project.

The almost obsessive commitment by a number of passionate Hawkes Bay people positioned the project as the greatest example of community spirit since Fantasyland in Hastings and Princess Alexandra Hospital in Ahuriri were completed in 1967 and 1972 respectively.

The title of the Cavalcade and Ride in a Truck Day’s promoter was changed to Trucking for Hawkes Bay Child Care Charitable Trust (TFHBCCCT) in July 2014 and there was further rationalisation with the LE Village being separated from the Cavalcade to more ideally reflect the purpose, the site and the financials. Little Elms Charitable Trust (LECT) became the

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name of the Orchard Road operation and this is the registered charity with all the subsequent tax advantages to both contributors and operator. “Little” reflecting our emphasis on supporting children and “Elms” commemorating the numerous contributions by the Elms family to the wellbeing of Hastings residents suffering trauma.

Ian Emmerson and Jennie Thompson from Emmerson Transport, Doug Elliott from Conroy Removals and Sandy Walker were the original Trustees until 2005 when Selwyn Hawthorne filled the gap left by Doug’s resignation for promotion outside the area. Tony Bryan, Charlie Trask, Wayne Moody and our amazing legal advisor Robin Bell were appointed in 2008 followed by Nigel Sherriff in 2012 then more recently Bill Livingston, Angus McMillan and Mike Madden becoming Trustees in 2014. The voluntary effort of these very caring people has ensured that the burden that befalls parents of health compromised child patients in the adjacent Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital is eased ever so much at a critical time in their lives. Ian Emmerson was named HB Today’s Person of the Year in 2015 for his service to our community with many organisations.

The next major event in the progress of LECT was the purchase of John Elms’ house from his estate in July 2014. Thanks to wonderful financial gestures by Charlie Trask one of the Trustees and our Patron Cally White’s family Trust, this strategic property squared the original purchase that was earmarked for future expansion. The future certainly looks brighter for Hawkes Bay folk who will sadly encounter challenges to their wellbeing.

In all of this narrative from the evolution of Trucking for Hawkes Bay Child Cancer Charitable Trust through to Little Elms Charitable Trust two names shine most prominently;

Ian Emmerson and Cally White, MAY LIFE BE KIND TO THEM


Selwyn Hawthorne
13 October 2018

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