The Kairanga Lions Club was chartered on the 15th June 1973. We were sponsored by Rongotea & Districts Lions Club, starting meetings at the Awahuri pub, then the White Horse Inn. When that got too small, we finally found a home at Kairanga Hall.

At the start, we didn't have any funds to give away, so the first project was to collect firewood and distribute to the needy. 100% of members took part. The first fund raising projects was growing potatoes on a 5 acre PYO block which gave us the funds to be able to help others.

In 1976 we raised $4000 for a defibrillator, undertaking projects such as a cull stock drive, lions gala, monster auction, and weekend manning of a service station. This project was reported in the national Lions Magazine. Another early project was the planting of trees through Longburn and later down Pioneer Highway leading into Palmerston North.

The Charter Members had mostly young families, so many of the early activities were based around outings for the whole family, such as picnics and bar-b-ques. It was as a result of these family orientated events that Kairanga started down the fireworks path, something that is a trademark of the club today. In the early years (starting 1975) members would pool fireworks and meet at Kairanga School to let them off. Displays got bigger and better and more people came, until it became a community event with professional pyrotechnics. It grew too big for the school, and in 1997 moved to Manfield, where it became a huge event with hours of entertainment added. Today the club undertakes numerous displays throughout the lower North Island, including charity events like Camp Quality and Relay for Life.

Over the years the club has undertaken many and varied projects. For a considerable time we bought coal by the ton (45 one year!) and packaged it for sale around the district. This was backbreaking work, and eventually abandoned after it was discovered we were putting local merchants out of business!

Our biggest fundraising project was the appeal for Emma Skinner, a baby who needed a liver transplant. The club raised $185000 in six weeks, which was a huge effort for all. It started off at the infamous Rugby League test between NZ & Aus where 6 balls went missing in the crowd. We collected about $18000 that night. We rattled cans in all the pubs dressed as clowns, and had to pick up the funds from collection boxes from McDonalds & KFC at least twice a week, That was the only time KFC ever let collection boxes in the establishment. Sadly Emma did not live to use all of the funds, and we hold the balance in deposit to this day to spend on youth projects, examples of which have been providing a Hart Walker for Stevie Crutchley and sending Edge Milligan to the USA for life changing bowel surgery.

In recent years the club has also been very active. We raised $27000 for Ronald McDonald House, and have a room at the Wellington site with our name on the door. We have worked hours at Sixtus Lodge making paths, clearing fallen trees, building a confidence course and a bridge. We undertake many fundraising projects and donate funds to a variety of local causes.

The families of the early members all grew up, and some even joined the club. Five Charter Members remain. As with many ageing clubs, we found ourselves looking for new blood. For several years we have opened our doors to all, and the gender balance is starting to slowly even out. Although today the clubs average age is higher than it was back in the 70s, it is starting to trend down rather than up, which is a healthy sign for the future. When you think back to the beginning of Kairanga, Lions was a younger persons organisation, so long may that continue.

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