A social Queenstown cricket team’s out to make a major fundraising splash in support of their Gisborne friends caught out by Cyclone Gabrielle.

For its ‘Bat for the Bay’ fundraiser, the mostly over-50s SDS (Southland Development Squad) team is embarking on a 12-hour cricket marathon next Sunday, March 5, at the Millbrook corner ground.

Between the lead-up and the day itself, it’s aiming to raise at least $50,000 to help get sports and community organisations in the Poverty Bay/East Coast areas back on their feet.

SDS formed a strong relationship with the mostly under-50s Poverty Bay Wekas after the latter first played in the annual Queenstown six-
a-side tournament in 2021.

The local team’s reciprocated over the past two years and enjoyed the North Islanders’ awesome hospitality — SDS turned up last March
just days after Gisborne had declared a flooding state of emergency.

SDS player Jono Browne says their fundraiser’s a no-brainer ‘‘’cos at the end of the day, they’d do the same for us if we were in the same situation’’.

‘‘They’re a great bunch of guys.’’

Their 12-hour cricket shift, from 8am till 8pm, comprises an inter-squad T20 game followed by 40-over games against Millbrook Cricket Club and Queenstown Cricket Club — that’s 200 overs altogether.

SDS has set up a fundraising website, batforthebay.raisely.com, with support from the Wakatipu Community Foundation.

‘‘We’re going to go and target businesses,’’ captain Jason Herron says.

‘‘We’ve all got people in town we’re going to hit up.

‘‘We’re aiming high, but whatever we raise will be great.’’

The cricket will overlap with the last day of the New Zealand Open golf tourney, which is also at Millbrook.

‘‘We’re hoping we might get a bit of traction from that, people wandering round or driving past.’’

SDS will be returning to play in Gisborne on March 31, when they’ll hand over what they’ve raised — player Matt Edwards hopes their efforts will inspire other local groups to undertake cyclone fundraisers.

Meantime, Queenstown residents who want to donate to help support the relief effort in Central Hawke’s Bay can do so directly, after the Queenstown-Lakes was matched with the area through Ko Tātou LGNZ’s ‘Adopt a Community’ initiative.

Queenstown council’s CEO Mike Theelen says the nationwide initiative connects councils with some of the most devastated regions.

“Like many affected areas Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has set up a mayoral relief fund,” he says.

“Being matched in this way provides an additional opportunity for our community to support another in their time of greatest need.

“It’s not difficult to think of a time when the boot might be on the other foot and we’d be reliant on other parts of the country helping us, so I would encourage anyone who has the means to consider making a donation in this way.”

Theelen says the council’s looking at how this district can offer Central Hawke’s Bay medium- and long-term support, too.

“It will take many months for a disaster of this scale to be resolved at a practical level, let alone the years it will take for people to come to terms with its effects.”

To donate to the Central Hawke’s Bay mayoral relief fund, bank account number 01-0777-0038665-00 with the reference ‘Relief’ – if you bank with KiwiBank you might be asked to enter a property valuation number; if so just enter ten zeros.

Alternatively, donations can also be made to Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Trust (02-0700-0010824-002).

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