The Top of the South’s aquaculture industry is working together to benefit our local youth by supporting the Graeme Dingle Foundation.

New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS), Sanford and the Marine Farming Association are all major sponsors of the foundation, a charitable trust which runs in-school programmes Kiwi Can (primary schools) and Career Navigator (secondary schools). Now, NZKS is behind an upcoming visit to Blenheim by Sir Graeme Dingle himself.

Sir Graeme spoke at one of a series of Institute of Directors events on Friday, 24 August. The IoD networking lunch was held in association with NZKS, and General Manager, Marketing Jemma McCowan officially welcomed attendees, and met with Sir Graeme.

Sir Graeme Dingle is introduced by Jemma McCowan, General Manager Marketing, NZ King Salmon

NZKS and Sanford have sponsored the Kiwi Can programme in Marlborough since it began in four schools in 2014. Now, the programme is in 12 primary schools across Marlborough and received by more than 2,200 children each week. Kiwi Can teaches children values and life skills through a fun, energy-packed programme.

More recently, the Marine Farming Association came onboard as a sponsor of the new Career Navigator programme – designed to provide direction and real world experience for secondary school students who are ready to embark on their future career paths.

Most recently Kiwi Can came to Waikawa Bay School, which means all primary schools at the base of the Marlborough Sounds now receive Kiwi Can including Picton, Linkwater and Havelock schools.

Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough regional manager Kelvin Watt says the growth of Kiwi Can in Marlborough would not have been possible without the support of NZKS and the wider marine farming industry.

“Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough is 99.5% locally funded – 60% is through local business and community support (sponsorship and fundraiser initiatives) – and the remainder from community grants and school contributions. This represents a significant level of engagement from businesses and the local community, showing a clear indication of the high value placed on the programme from those who live and work here.”

Kelvin Watt (Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough) and Chelsea Yates (NZ King Salmon) with Sir Graeme Dingle

“What we’ve managed to achieve in Marlborough is pretty special and our relationship with the marine farming industry has been the biggest part of that. The support from the industry is massive, and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the growth that we have without that support.”

Kelvin says that support is not just financially, but by the engagement with industry staff with the programme itself through developing an understanding of its goals and fundraising.

“The collaboration with businesses is actually replicating what we’re teaching through the programme – it’s about relationships and working together.”

Jemma says team members have been heavily involved in fundraising for the foundation for years, which has seen some go to extreme measures for the benefit of Marlborough’s youth.

“Our team have really showed what they’re made of for the benefit of Marlborough’s youth, from abseiling off multi-storey buildings to tandem cycling.”

Jemma says it is fantastic that the wider marine farming industry has come on board with support for the foundation’s new programmes.

“One of our sponsorship aims is improving life in our community, with a particular focus on youth development, environmental and educational organisations. The Graeme Dingle Foundation absolutely fits the bill, and we’re proud to support such a great organisation in our region for the future of our youth.”

NZKS and Sanford staff have also been involved in food stalls at the Havelock Seafood & Mussel Festival and Picton Maritime Festival to fundraise for the Graeme Dingle Foundation and provided food products for the Chef Night Out and Fashion Show charity dinner.