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All Black veterans help raise funds for guide dogs

Media Backgrounder: All Black veterans help raise funds for guide dogs in the Manawatu

Frank Bunce and Bull Allen were famous for their dogged determination to win All Black games. Now they’re equally determined to help raise funds for the training of guide dogs for blind, deaf-blind or vision-impaired people in the Manawatu region.

The fundraising event is being held tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 13), and will feature the two All Black greats as guest speakers. Master of Ceremonies is sports journalist and television personality, Hamish McKay.

Fittingly, the event is being held at the Institute of Rugby, a venue that has hosted numerous All Black training camps since it was established five years ago.

Bayleys Real Estate Manawatu and event organisers Massey University, are expecting a capacity crowd of 400 people to put their financial weight behind not the scrum machine, but a very worthy cause. They are hoping the spirit of the venue combined with the powerful personalities of Frank Bunce, Bull Allen, and Hamish McKay, will bring them success in this endeavour to raise funds for a much-needed service within their community.

This is the first public function held in the Institute’s “Green Room”, a huge (33m by 16m) indoor training field, which features a synthetic turf surface and a 12m high ceiling.

The Green Room’s turf was designed for All Black training sessions and is a combination of rubber chips and sand combined to minimise the impact of falls. Its nylon composition does not graze or “burn” the skin as is the case with many other synthetic surfaces.

To protect this special turf for the duration of the fundraiser, a temporary wooden floor has laid and covered with carpet. The wooden floor was Arena Manawatu and consists of 1.8 x 3m slabs connected together. It took 32 volunteer person-hours to lay the floor.
Bayleys Real Estate has a nationwide commitment to raise $1million for Guide Dog Services, the organisation that breeds and trains guide dogs for the blind, deaf-blind and vision-impaired.

Bayleys have held a number of regional events throughout the country focused on sponsoring guide dogs, and the Manawatu team are hoping this will be the first of what will become an annual event.

It costs $22,500 to breed, raise, train and match a guide dog puppy. This includes vaccination and veterinary fees, and the costs of the harness and other equipment.

The total process from birth to being matched to a blind, deaf-blind or vision-impaired person takes about two years.

The pups are especially bred and selected and then placed with a volunteer “puppy walker” who socialises the puppies from seven weeks old. Socialising includes getting the puppy used to being in everyday situations such as supermarkets, malls, and sporting events.

Guide dog puppies are assessed regularly to see how they are developing and how they behave in different situations. At around 12 months puppies return to the Guide Dog Centre and begin their formal guide dog training.

Over six months they are assessed on a variety of personality and temperament traits, health aspects and guiding tasks. Successful puppies qualify as a guide dog and are matched to a blind, deaf-blind or vision-impaired person. After a period to bond, the team then has two to five weeks of training with a guide dog orientation and mobility instructor.

Guide Dog Services has fully qualified staff working as guide dog trainers (it takes two years to qualify) and guide dog orientation and mobility instructors (four years to qualify). The course is run in conjunction with Massey University and the qualifications are recognised by NZQA.

The Institute of Rugby is situated within the Palmerston North campus of Massey University and was originally developed in 1999 through a partnership between Massey University and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

From the air, the curved roof of the Institute of Rugby very cleverly creates the unmistakeable impression of a silver fern, a motif that is important to the All Black brand, and, in fact, all New Zealand representative sport. A line of skylight windows in the roof form the spine of the fern, and allow natural sunlight into the centre of the building.

The Institute is now wholly owned and managed by Massey University, providing skills training, career development, research and other educational opportunities in a world-class sports facility. Facilities include a superbly equipped gymnasium, a 33m by 16m indoor training area, video technology, conference rooms, changing rooms, and a recovery room with hot and cold plunge pools and accommodation.

Massey also believes that there is a significant demand within New Zealand business community for an environment of endeavour for corporate activities such as think tanks, team-building exercises and marketing and sales conventions.

“The Institute Of Rugby has a built-in atmosphere of striving to be the best,” says Ian Warrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Palmerston North and Extramural) of Massey University.

“You can’t help but sense the presence of the All Black teams who have trained here…superb athletes, powerfully motivated to succeed, working together to achieve excellence, and ultimately to win.”


Institute of Rugby: www.

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