Iain Wakefield and Elizabeth Wright stand in front of an Interplast presentation and smile.

Left to right: PDG Iain Wakefield, member of the Interplast Rotarian Committee, with Elizabeth Wright, Interplast District Chair of District 9930.

Interplast recently had the honour of celebrating the tremendous fundraising efforts of New Zealand Rotarians in Rotary Districts 9930 and 9920.

Rotary Coordinator, Janette Etherington, flew to New Zealand to attend two events to express Interplast’s gratitude for the life-changing work made possible by the Districts’ donations. She was joined by local Interplast volunteer and Past District Governor, Iain Wakefield, as well as Rotarians, family and friends from across each District.

The fundraising efforts in Rotary District 9930 were driven by Interplast District Chair, Mrs Elizabeth Wright. Elizabeth has been coordinating and organising fundraising for Interplast for more than 6 years. In that time, she has raised over $150,000 NZD.

These funds have allowed Interplast volunteer surgical teams to visit Fiji, Myanmar and Solomon Islands. Her highly successful teddy bear raffle raised more than $10,000 NZD to purchase a cleft simulation mannequin. The mannequin is a vital piece of training equipment, used by Dr Semesa Matanaicake in Suva, Fiji, to train other surgeons from across the Pacific in how to perform cleft lip and palate repairs.

“It’s wonderful that Rotarians from 13 local Rotary Clubs could join the Rotary Club of Te Awamutu’s meeting, to celebrate the fundraising achievements across District 9930 in support of the life-changing work that Interplast does. We’re proud that our local community can join forces to have such an enormous impact on peoples’ lives,” Mrs. Wright said.

Janette visited the Rotary Club of Te Awamutu on October 24th, to thank Elizabeth, her club, Rotarians across District 9930, and the District staff for their amazing support for Interplast’s life-changing work.

Janette said, “80 patients in South-East Asia and the Pacific have received life-changing care from Interplast thanks to the tireless endeavours of Elizabeth Wright and the generosity of Rotarians in the heart of the North Island. Equally importantly, each of these 80 surgeries provided training for local clinicians, helping to create sustainable local capacity. Untold numbers of patients of the future will also benefit from Elizabeth’s and Rotary’s support of Interplast.”

A large group of people gather together inside of a dining room for a photo.

The Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside with Shefali Mehta, Janette Etherington and PDG Iain Wakefield.

Janette and Iain also visited the Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside where Mrs Shefali Mehta has been raising money to support Interplast’s work since 2018.

Mrs Mehta QSM is the Interplast District Chair for Rotary District 9920, which covers half of Auckland and 7 Pacific Island nations. In the time that she has been coordinating and organising fundraising, Shefali has raised over $50,000 NZD for Interplast.

Notably, District 9920’s most recent fundraising supported Interplast’s visit to Tonga, earlier in 2023.

“Thanks to the generosity of the amazing Rotary community here in Auckland, 39 patients in Tonga were able to receive life-changing surgical treatment from the Interplast team. It’s been incredible to share some of the amazing patient stories that have come back from Tonga, and the life-changing impacts their surgeries have had on these individuals and communities,” Janette said.

In addition to the patients treated in Tonga, Shefali’s fundraising will also enable an Interplast volunteer surgical team to visit Tarawa, Kiribati, in 2024, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders around the world.