Special thanks to Jane Belton who wrote the report below about our recent District Conference, for her Matamata club newsletter.    
A group of twelve travelled to Te Kuiti for the conference held at Les Munro Centre. The weekend started on the Friday night (April 21st) with a meet and greet session. A lot of us catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Saturday morning started with a Powhiri/Karanga, then District Governor Kevin Forgeson opened the conference.
The first speaker was Drew Kessler Rotary International Representative from the Rotary Club of North Rockland, New York. He spoke about Imagine Rotary. His family live and breathe Rotary, Drew, his wife and five children are all part of Rotary in some way. His youngest children started Earlyact at the school. A lot of New Zealand members had not heard of Earlyact.  I feel Drew will one day become President of Rotary International.
Other Speakers were:
Jim Bolger former Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaking on a Changing World. Very interesting hearing his views of the current political situation in New Zealand.
Mike Seawright - founder of Relief Aid, delivering humanitarian assistance to families living in some of the world’s worst conflict zones. 
Paul Higson - Renewal of Rotary Youth Exchange in our District. They have 7 students wanting to come to New Zealand and needed two more to travel out of NZ.
Goldie Hamilton - spoke on a topic dear to DG Kevin’s heart, Anxiety New Zealand Trust. Goldie talked about the helpline she managers, also training and support available for people in need.
Drew Kessler was then back to talk about Membership, a topic of many discussions that weekend.
Nadine Shine - founded the Big Fella Foundation - a community mental health organisation - in memory of her husband Justin.
Geoff Mathis  - then gave us an update on The Achievements of the Kondiki Dairy Project.
Keynote speaker was Tawera Nikau talking about Standing Tall and his life since his right leg was amputated.  Tawera's life story is truly inspiring and motivational. He is a living example of someone who refuses to quit no matter how hard he is hit.
imageWe then dressed up for the gala dinner - Rural New Zealand theme. Most clubs including us, dressed in blue jeans, checked shirt and hats. Best team and ladies went to Tauranga Te Papa  for their farm yard costumes. Fred Dagg from Taradale, taking best man.
A fun night was had and Matamata were one of the last teams to leave, after been entertained by some young members of the public who heard the music and thought they would join us for a dance. These young  foreign travellers were walking from Bluff to Cape Reinga and thought they had found a night club in Te Kuiti. Sadly they had not heard of Rotary but certainly knew more by the time they left.
Sunday saw the Roll of Honour, featuring our members Lachie Duncan, Henry Clothier, Harry Russell and Barry McKey.
Anoop (James) Khare spoke about the Presidential Initiative – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, an ongoing topic for all clubs.
Lisa Tamati then bounced onto the stage and boy is this lady driven. Ex professional endurance athlete, author, documentary maker & serial entrepreneur. Her powerful and life changing story about how she got her mother back to full health after a huge stroke and then cancer, truly was heart-warming and a few tears were wiped away. 
We then got to wipe even more tears, but in a good way, with entertainment provided by Cam Calkoen. Cam was born with cerebral palsy, he pushed through his physical limitations and set his own goals, representing New Zealand in athletics at the highest levels. He is now on the comedy circuit and was supposed to speak at the RI Convention in Hawaii…  I am so glad I got to see his session…. A good belly laugh to finish the weekend.
Weekend was closed by DG Kevin, who was looking forward to going home and putting his foot up after apparently maybe breaking his toes after dropping a banner on them at the start of the weekend.
Thanks for the great report Jane.