We have just come out of thirty-three days in Level 4 lock down and have two more weeks (subject to review) at the slightly less restrictive Level 3.  All Kiwis can be very proud of achieving a huge reduction in infection rates of COVID-19.  Many of our Pacific Island countries have also had stringent lock downs and have been either able to remain COVID-19 free or flatten the curve of infection.
This success has come at a huge economic cost and disruption of normal social interaction.  Rotarians across the district have played their part by meeting virtually, finding other ways to stay connected and keep members engaged.  It is also encouraging that many clubs have been able to reach out to those in need in the community and donate money and time while observing the lock down requirements.
Over half of our clubs are meeting by way of Zoom or Skype and others are in contact via telephone trees, emails and newsletters.  It’s wonderful to be able to use technology and many of us have been on a steep learning curve.  As an example of the use of technology, my club will have its annual debate with the Rotary Club of St Johns by way of Zoom next Monday.  I have attended many club meetings by Zoom and if you send me your club meeting link I will do my best to attend as a guest.
Now with growing confidence there will be a new normal post COVID-19.  More board and committee meetings will be held using Zoom and as an example, Rotary International is organising a virtual convention in June which we will all be able to attend from the comfort of our homes (see separate story on the website and in the newsletter for the website link – operative from 1 May US CDT).  It is also interesting to see some clubs attracting new members who prefer this type of meeting to the more traditional meetings.  Rotary has established new club operating models over recent years and these provide new opportunities to attract members.
This year’s RYPEN camp was cancelled due to the virus restrictions and replaced by online delivery of its content.  Videos of speakers and follow up tasks are all undertaken remotely.  This change has enabled the benefits of RYPEN to continue to be delivered and participants have provided positive feedback.  I am sure other events in future will also be delivered using a similar format or a hybrid of traditional and new.
The Rotary Club of Tarawa President Ruth Cross, her baby and mother are still unable to return home to Kiribati due to travel restrictions.  They were returning home following the South Pacific Presidents-elect training in Auckland at the end of February.  Thankfully, they are well supported thanks to the generous support of Fijian Rotarians who found them suitable accommodation and are looking out for them.  The good news is that Ruth’s husband has been elected as a member of the Kiribati government while they have been away.
Tropical Cyclone Harold caused significant damage in parts Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga.  We are fortunate that Rotary support was able to be provided quickly as the emergency response kits (ERKs) are pre-positioned in those countries.  The disaster was complicated by the various countries COVID-19 travel restrictions.  This was quickly recognised and the ERKs transported to remote islands as part of each country’s disaster management response.  There is an urgent need to replace the ERKs.
Congratulations to Allan Smith from the Rotary Club of St Johns on his selection as our district governor for 2022-2023.  Allan is a past president of the Rotary Club of St Johns, District 9920 Area Governor 2020-2021 and a panel member of the Rotary Governance Working Group.  His wife Sue is the NZ Operations Manager for ROMAC (Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children) and works as a volunteer for many organisations such as the Cancer Society.  We wish Allan and wife Sue every success.
I also want to acknowledge the passing of Bob Young, Past District Governor 2000-2001.  Bob was a charter member and a past president of the Rotary Club of Ellerslie Sunrise and treasurer of the District Foundation Committee for many years.  On behalf of all Rotarians in the district we extend our condolences and thoughts to Helen and family.
Gary Langford
District Governor 2019-20