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A step in the nice direction!

For immediate release
Monday, July 11 2005

A step in the nice direction!

A New Zealand charitable foundation is tapping into the "extraordinary niceness" of Kiwis to drive a community initiative aimed at enabling people to help others.

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation's (VNZF) flagship 'World of Difference' programme is again giving passionate people the chance to work for a year making a "world of difference" to causes dear to their hearts.

The World of Difference programme, which launches today, selects extraordinary applications from ordinary New Zealanders who aspire to help the environment or people in need and has this year received support from Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark.

"The World of Difference programme supports a diverse range of charities and community causes, and lives up to its name by making a real difference to the lives that are touched by the winners, " says Ms Clark.

Foundation Chairman Neil Porteous says there is a rich vein of passionate people in New Zealand with a real desire to make a difference in their communities and beyond.

Backing this up are the results of a survey conducted by the Foundation designed to find out just how nice or nasty New Zealanders think they are. People's 'niceness factor' was compared to that of Mother Teresa, through to the ultimate in nastiness, 'Darth Maul' of Star Wars' fame.

"Nearly 85 percent of respondents consider themselves to be more saintly-like 'Mother Teresa' or 'Ned Flanders' from The Simpsons. Thankfully only four percent rated themselves on a par with dastardly Darth," says Mr Porteous.

The annual World of Difference programme, which is now in its fourth year, is one of a kind. It gives up to six people each year the opportunity to work for their favourite cause for 12 months, with their salaries and expenses paid by the Foundation. The investment is upwards of half a million dollars.

Since 2002, 14 people have taken on a wide variety of challenges in far-flung parts of the globe and at home. This has ranged from spending a year helping dispense aid in war-ravaged countries and at sites of terrorist attacks, to helping save endangered species in New Zealand.

Six amazing people are currently making a real difference to New Zealand. Tracey Richardson from Hawkes Bay is helping children with cystic fibrosis to participate in physical activities and Ricky Houghton is assisting Northland families with issues that fall outside government agency and iwi service provision, such as teaching horticultural and economic skills.

The other 2004 winners are working in the areas of biomedical treatment of autism, conservation of the kiwi, sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and art therapy as a form of expressing feelings for children with cancer.

Vodafone also encourages its employees to demonstrate their 'niceness' by enabling them to share their talents and passion in the community. This year a new initiative - the 'mini World of Difference programme' has been established for Vodafone people.

At least three employees will get to spend up to one month on full pay working with one of the VNZF's existing partner charities. These include the Royal New Zealand Foundation for The Blind, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Project K and the Spirit of Adventure Trust.

Prime Minister Helen Clark adds: "The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation seeks to make opportunities available for others by encouraging its employees to take up charitable works, and by making funds available for social, environmental, cultural, and life skills programmes."

The Foundation is passionate about enriching young people's lives, taking care of the environment and backing programmes that improve everyone's access to communications technology.

For those who have yet to show their nice side, the World of Difference programme is the perfect opportunity to do just that and prove to everyone that you are definitely no meanie like 'Darth Maul'.

People can enter the 2005 World of Difference programme by visiting the VNZF website: and completing the online entry form. Deadline for entries for is August 21, 2005.


Vodafone New Zealand Foundation
2005 World of Difference Programme

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation is a charitable trust, committed to demonstrating a passion for the world around us.

The World of Difference programme is the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation’s flagship community investment programme and was developed in 2002.

In the annual World of Difference programme passionate New Zealanders can make a real difference to causes dear to their hearts, anywhere in the world.
The World of Difference programme is one of a kind, giving up to six people the freedom to work for their favourite cause for a year, with their salaries and expenses paid for.

Since its inception the programme has enabled 14 Kiwis to unleash their passion and make a world of difference in New Zealand and overseas.
In 2002 and 2003 four people won a place in the programme and in 2004, six people were selected.

The World of Difference winners have taken on a wide range of challenges in far-flung parts of the globe, from spending a year in war-ravaged countries and at sites of terrorist attacks, to helping save endangered species in New Zealand.

Thousands of people’s lives have been touched and environmental causes progressed as a result.

More information about each winner and the organisations they have worked with can be found at:

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation is passionate about enriching young people’s lives, taking care of the environment and backing programmes that improve everyone’s access to communications technology.

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation encourages Vodafone employees to share their talents and passion in the community by entering the World of Difference programme.

The 2005 World of Difference programme will be launched on Friday July 11 2005.

The programme is open to all New Zealand residents aged over 16 years. Entrants between 16 and 20 years old must have written consent from their parent(s)/guardian(s) to enter.
The call for entry period lasts six week, closing 21 August 2005.

Interviews are held with finalists in late August, early September.

Up to six winners will be announced in September.

Winners begin the year with their chosen charity from January 2006.

2004 Winners’ biographies

Tracey Richardson & Breath4CF

Tracey Richardson is very aware of Cystic Fibrosis as two of her four children have inherited this genetic condition. Tracey wanted to establish a grant scheme to assist children with Cystic Fibrosis to participate in sports and physical activities. She aimed to align herself with the New Zealand Ironman competition and in 2004 her Breath4CF campaign became the first-ever charitable association in the event’s 20-year history. Tracey completed the race in 15hrs 46mins with her children by her side and raised $120,000 for Cystic Fibrosis. This year, incredibly, she raised more than $200,000 from the event. Tracey has recently returned from the UK where she ran in the London marathon. She also used the trip to meet with athletes, charities and organisers to discuss how they recruit and support athletes in these events and help them raise money for various charities. She plans to head to Florida and New York in November for similar discussions.

Tracey says World of Difference has given her work huge visibility and credibility. “It’s nice to know that what we’re doing is being supported. The money has meant I can spend more time doing what I love without the added pressure of holding down another job to provide for my family.” Tracey has spent time designing, marketing and bringing charity wristbands into New Zealand for nationwide sale to raise funds for Breath4CF - a first for New Zealand. The bands, appropriately named ‘Band Together’, went on sale in June. They will be available through many high street retailers. She is also in the process of writing a book about her experiences.
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Dr. Debbie Fewtrell & the Autism Spectrum Disorder Kids Community Trust

Dr. Debbie Fewtrell, a Northland doctor, aims to become New Zealand’s first “Defeat Autism Now’’ doctor. She is working to collate and relay research, experience and knowledge about biomedical treatment of autism into a system for New Zealand medical practitioners. Debbie has recently returned from the UK where she met with a nutritional doctor who specialises in child behaviour and learning disorders with whom she shared information. She found this interaction invaluable. She has also spent time in Sydney attending clinical research training sessions and says it was a great opportunity to build contacts with Australian and American doctors in a similar field. Debbie is working towards inviting some of her new contacts to a New Zealand conference which will be the first of its kind in the country. “World of Difference has given the programme money, kudos, credibility, as well as opened lots of doors. It’s great to be following my passion full-time,” she says.

Stephen Denekamp & Rainbow Youth Trust

Stephen Denekamp was just 20 when he was offered the chance to take part in the World of Difference programme, making him the youngest winner of the programme so far. He feels extremely passionate about his cause, Rainbow Youth. The trust works with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, fa’afafine, takataapui young people and their families and helps to break social taboos about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Although he had been working with Rainbow Youth part-time before World of Difference, Stephen says the programme has allowed him to expand the organisation and totally focus on the education side of things. “If it wasn’t for the World of Difference programme we may not have been able to keep the education officer role going at all and it definitely wouldn’t be full time,” he says.

Stephen has helped hold workshops in schools and provides support, advocacy and education for queer youth. He uses the term ‘queer’ because he feels it encompasses many identities and he is attempting to reduce the negative connotations of the word. Rainbow Youth now has two full-time staff members and Stephen has assisted in fundraising to ensure growth of the organisation in future years.
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Diana Hickey & The Child Care Foundation

Diana Hickey is combining her passion for art and helping those around her to make a world of difference. Diana has been working as an art therapist for the Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) at The Children’s Haematology and Oncology Centre at Christchurch Hospital. She has been implementing an art therapy programme with children aged 4 to 19 years, which she began as a voluntary research initiative in 2003. Art therapy is used extensively in other countries to help people who find it difficult to communicate verbally to express themselves. The programme helps children express their feelings and reactions to their illness, treatment and their family.

“The art therapy programme is still in its infancy but funding from the World of Difference programme has given me the opportunity to make some real progress. I can spend time developing the programme and promoting the benefits of art therapy without worrying about finding extra time to fundraise.” Referrals from fellow colleagues in the hospital illustrate how they have been quick to explore art therapy as an allied health service for their young patients.

Diana has recently travelled to Wellington to meet with other art therapists and discuss her current practice methods in a hospital environment. While there, she delivered a keynote presentation on the benefits of art therapy at ‘Through the Maze’, the biennial CCF conference. Diana also met with the CEO of CCF and other key players in the development of oncology services about the possibility of using the clinical model of art therapy as a guide for similar services around the country.

Joanne Thorne & The Bushy Park Trust

The World of Difference programme has allowed Joanne Thorne to concentrate full-time on the conservation of New Zealand’s endangered national icon, the kiwi, through the Bushy Park Trust. Bushy Park is a 90-hectare reserve of native forest where it is planned to reintroduce a number of endangered species, including the kiwi. One of Joanne’s achievements this year has been helping to make Bushy Park predator-free which is hugely important to the survival of the kiwi. She has also been involved in discussions with Iwi, local residents, and the Department of Conservation to set up a new Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Operation Nest Egg (ONE) programme.

Joanne has also spent time arranging proposals for introducing new species to the area. “Being selected for the World of Difference programme has enabled me to learn so much and to gain the practical skills necessary for my career to progress.” Joanne says this type of work can often be political and she has found it a fantastic learning experience, allowing her to put her ecology degree to good use. “Being involved in the negotiations of setting up the new breeding ground has been amazing. I’ve learnt so much. It has been frustrating at times but it’s such an important part of the work we do and I’m very grateful.” The decision regarding the new ONE programme will be made shortly and Joanne will then begin nest-monitoring male kiwi and collecting eggs to be incubated at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua. Once the eggs hatch the vulnerable chicks will spend their first six months living in predator free Bushy Park and will then be released into national parks in the central/western North Island.

Ricky Houghton & He Korowai Trust
Since February 2005 Ricky Houghton has been helping families in Northland with issues that fall outside government agency and iwi service provision. He Korowai Trust has helped hundreds of families avoid eviction, mortgagee sales and repossessions and has provided financial assistance, employment support and community group assistance for many more. World of Difference has allowed Ricky to continue the work of the Trust and he says, “without the World of Difference grant we wouldn’t be here – it’s that simple! The office would not be open!”

Ricky has just harvested a GE free maize trial on 50acres of unused Maori land in Te Kao, 70km north of Kaitaia. The aim was to directly forge relationships with businesses whilst maintaining a broader economic and social development focus. The independent scientists report advised that while the yield was 15% lower than expected, the quality was excellent. The product was intended for Tegal but was sold locally and Ricky intends to extend the trial by 100% this year. A cluster group of landowners has been formed and monitored the trial. The obvious outcomes include improved quality of life, employment and self-sustainability as landowners move from state dependence to independence. Ricky is also working with the Trust on a joint venture with Te Kao Primary School, which intends to promote the advantages of owning Maori land.

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