Theme of Rotary conference ‘imagine diversity’

Plans are falling into place for the South Island Rotary Conference in Oamaru next year.

Rotary Conference chairman David Drake, of the Lincoln Rotary Club, said Oamaru was chosen because of its centrality, and for what it had to offer.

The Oamaru Opera House will host the Rotarians from across the South Island on March 24-26.

Since 1981, there had been two Rotary districts in the South Island but, from July 1, the two had merged leaving a a total of about 2200 Rotarians, he said.

District Governor Jan Bousted was part of the Lincoln club, which was why it was in charge of the conference organisation, Mr Drake said.

The conference features a range of speakers. While most were still being finalised, one of the keynote speakers would be Cam Calkoen.

Mr Calkoen was born with cerebral palsy, and told by doctors that walking and talking would be difficult for him. He became a competitive athlete and is now a motivational speaker. He set up the charity, Caribiner Youth Mentoring, for young athletes with disabilities, and has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.

The conference theme was ‘‘imagine diversity’’, Mr Drake said.

‘‘The international Rotary theme this year is ‘imagine’, so we’re just putting a bit more to it.

‘‘Diversity means difference in age groups, between younger members . . . gender differential, thinking outside the square, all sorts of things, really.’’

A free afternoon on the Saturday would be spent visiting Rod Tempero’s workshop and Riverstone Castle, and there would be guided or self-guided tours of the Victorian precinct.

A dinner would be held on the Saturday night at the Loan and Mercantile building.

The intention of the conference was to ‘‘widen the knowledge’’ of members and motivate them, Mr Drake said.

Oamaru Rotary president Sven Thelning said in 2019 Oamaru hosted the conference for the lower half of the South Island, which attracted about 300-350 people, and they expected this one to be even bigger.

‘‘We’re hoping to make it really special for those that come here,’’ Mr Thelning said.

‘‘We’re just seeking out some sponsors at the moment too — it’s not really appropriate for Rotary to use Rotary funds to fund the conference, but at the same time, these are all the volunteers who have raised funds for all the different clubs all over the South Island, so we want to try and subsidise the costs of the conference if we can, so we are seeking sponsors.

‘‘Normally we’re the ones doing the helping out, but this is just one instance where we can’t really do that.’’

LJ Hooker Oamaru had already made a donation to the conference.

Mr Thelning always looked forward to the conference, and was particularly looking forward to it being in Oamaru.

‘‘It’s really good for meeting a lot of other Rotarians, you wouldn’t otherwise meet. It opens up a lot of doors, and that is through meeting these people.

‘‘You get ideas from each other, and you get a lot of inspiration from the speakers, obviously, and I find it very motivational.’’