Hastings Karamu Cocktail Party

Photos: Kirsten Simcox Photography

From sausage rolls to a major cocktail auction, the Rotary Club of Hastings Karamu Cocktail Party has supported the local community for three decades, pumping much needed funds into a number of charitable endeavours.

Past Community Director Angus Thomson says the event has gone from strength to strength over the past 30 years.

“It started in the 1990s in response to a need for funding for the local rescue helicopter,” Angus says. “We held an auction in the hangar with sausage rolls and sandwiches hoping to make $5,000 and we raised $12,000. That was the genus of what was to follow.”

After many years of hosting the event, which quickly turned into a cocktail function and auction raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rescue helicopter, a decision was made to change the beneficiary of funds to the building of a local Sports Park complex for under privileged children.

In the past couple of years, the beneficiary changed again to be the local Cranford Hospice – a cause close to many in the Hawkes Bay community – as the facility looked to build new premises.

Organisers were unsure how last year’s event would fare, with the community emerging from two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, but they were blown away by the response.

“We raised a record $190,000 from the evening,” Angus says. “Local businesses donated auction items, including diamond earrings and a $20,000 kitchen package. Three weeks prior to the event, a resident at the hospice heard about the auction and donated a signed All Blacks jersey that had been presented to her after she met the team following her terminal diagnosis.

“The earrings went for $25,000 and the kitchen package attracted a final bid of $27,000, while the All Blacks jersey, with the associated story, made $10,000. Emotions played a big part in that,” Angus says.

Over its illustrious history the Cocktail Party has raised more than $1.5 million for the community, and the hospice has been selected as the recipient of funds for the next five years. The 2023 event will be held on July 28.