The annual Vintage Railway Fun Trivia and Auction night held at the Waitangi Copthorne Hotel on Saturday 19 August proved to be another huge success. Organised by Blah Blah Marketing and the Vintage Railway, over 200 people from Kaitaia to Auckland were present and the venue was packed. And they were obviously there to enjoy the evening and to support the Vintage Railway in the process. Both aims were well achieved.
After being welcomed by Trust Secretary Sue Hamnett in the place of the ill Chairman Johnson Davis, Funding Manager and long-time Trust member Frank Leadley took the crowd through a powerpoint presentation which outlined the huge scale of the project. Although the evening was focussed on funding towards the new station at Opua, Frank emphasised that there are actually 4 components to the project – at the Kawakawa Station there will be a number of building changes and rolling stock restorations, there will be the huge new railway and cycleway complex at Opua, there will be the full restoration of the historic railway line to link the two stations, and there will be a new and permanent cycleway within the railway corridor to replace the present leased use of the railway line.
Excluding the new cycleway which will be funded by FNDC, the cost of the first 3 components will be around $5.2 million. This is a huge amount of money for a Charitable Trust to raise, but with a combination of grants, philanthropic donations, potential overseas investment, Railway fundraising activities, infrastructure assistance from FNDC and loans, together with on-going community support, the Trust is hopeful its aims will be achieved and believes the whole region will benefit greatly from the economic and social outcomes that will flow from the project. These include 25 new jobs and the establishment of a Charitable Trust that will provide grants towards skills development and education – the only Trust of its type in the area.
The evening was divided into 4 blocks, each with 3 components – a trivial pursuits section, a fun activity, and a set of auctions. The trivia sections were keenly contested, while Frank Leadley and Mayor John Carter had the crowd fully entertained with their crazy style of auctioneering, and the bids came thick and fast. A wide range of great auction items had been provided by supporters, including the Bay Of Islands Painting Group and the Northland Corrections Facility. A wide range of auction items from 52 donors and businesses included accommodation, meals, boat trips, para sailing, mountain bike rentals, scenic flights, and art work including a magnificent painting by Opua artist Di West of a cow at almost full size which was purchased by Wallie Titchener from Auckland for $1,400.
It was a great night which produced a gross total of $15,200. But the major outcome of the event was the hugely entertained crowd who now understand the scale of the Railway’s project and who are even more enthusiastic supporters.