Science fest wins big in grants round

Jerome Cousins
Jerome Cousins
Nearly $500,000 is being injected into science engagement, performing arts, music education and youth development opportunities, to enrich the Otago region.

The Otago Community Trust has awarded $492,678 in its latest grants round, $90,000 of which has gone to the New Zealand International Science Festival.

Being New Zealand’s only festival dedicated to the wonders of science, trust chairman Andy Kilsby said the grant would go towards the main 2025 festival, while also supporting the smaller NanoFest in June/July this year.

NanoFest will feature events including talks and workshops, as well as the highly anticipated free public drone sky show on June 29 as part of Matariki.

Festival director Jerome Cousins said the dazzling display of more than 200 programmable light drones was themed around Māori arts and culture and was expected to attract audiences nationwide.

"We’re stoked to be able to provide another excellent festival for Dunedinites and visitors alike, of all ages and interests, during the July school holidays."

The performing arts also received a boost with Taki Rua Productions Society receiving an $8500 grant to bring their Te Reo Māori Season production Te Aka Tawhito to Otago schools and communities.

Tere Harrison’s vibrant theatrical work is performed entirely in te reo Māori and tells the story of Rongotai pursuing her dream of becoming the country’s top DJ.

A further $10,000 grant aims to allow Chamber Music New Zealand to put on a Dunedin concert season, which will include international acts as well as regional concerts in Wānaka, Cromwell and Oamaru.

Tokomairiro High School also received a $25,000 grant to help fund its Forestry Pathways Training programme. The programme is tailored to pupils at risk of disengaging from education.

Programme manager Lynda Allan said the hands-on course provided practical skills, work experience and pre-employment training to prepare pupils for careers in the local forestry industry or the wider primary sector.

"This course has a proven success rate, whereby eight students each year — 100% — are placed into fulltime sustainable employment."

Otago Community Trust May grants: Alexandra Central Otago Friendship Network ($5000); Central Otago Regional Choir ($2500); Central Otago Group Riding for the Disabled Association ($9000); Balclutha Catlins Senior Citizens Club Inc ($1000); Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee Inc ($5000); Dunedin Pakistan Society Inc ($13,000); Dunedin Performing Arts Competitions Society Inc ($3500); Kingslea School Puketai ($4128); Dunedin Netball Centre Inc ($2000); International Festival Environment Science Technology Dunedin NZ Inc ($90,000); Valley Project ($25,000); St Clair School ($3050); Dunedin Philippine Club Inc ($13,000); Otago Medical Research Foundation Inc ($80,000); Straight Up Trust ($40,000); Port Chalmers School ($15,000); Orchard Naturist Club Inc ($3000); NZ Continence Association Inc T/A Continence NZ ($3000); Cancer Society of NZ Otago & Southland ($15,000); Tokomairiro High School ($25,000); Mosgiel Taieri Competitions Society ($1500); Oamaru Excelsior Rugby and Associated Sports Club ($1500); Steampunk NZ Trust ($8000); Otago IHC NZ Inc ($5000); Presbyterian Support Northern T/A Lifeline ($10,000); The Brain Injury Association (Otago) Inc ($5000); New Zealand Choral Federation Inc ($4000); Southern Ice Hockey League ($2000); Chamber Music New Zealand Trust ($10,000); Otematata Residents Association Inc ($9000); Taki Rua Productions Society Inc ($8500); Dunedin City Petanque Inc ($5000); Eagles Golfing Society of Otago Inc ($5000); Skeggs Foundation ($24,500); Wellington Community Fund ($25,000); Wānaka Aspiring Gymsports Inc ($5000); Wanaka Associated Football Club Inc ($6500).