Grant applications sought

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by Claire Allison

Former Pleasant Point pupils are being encouraged to apply for funds from the Pleasant Point Education Trust.

Chairman John Clemens said applications were now open for grants from the trust, and trust members were keen to spread the word as numbers of applicants had been low in recent years.

Applicants had to be a former pupil of either Pleasant Point High School or Pleasant Point Primary School, and money could be sought for a broad range of needs studies, apprenticeship costs, the cost of gaining licences to a maximum of $5000 per applicant.

Mr Clemens said it was important to note that applicants did not need to be recent pupils; someone planning a mid-life career change could also apply for funds.

Former trustee John Steven, who served more than 30 years on the trust chairman roots in the focus the now-closed Pleasant Point High School had on agricultural education.

Land next to the Halstead Rd school was originally leased by MP Tom Burnett, and used for agricultural training, he said.

It changed hands, and when, in about 1964, the 10ha block became available for purchase, a group of local farmers banded together to buy it, and became the first trustees of what was then called the Pleasant Point School Farm Trust.

“I came along in about 1983 when, at a high school board meeting, I questioned the elderly trust chairman about their succession plan, and I got elected along with another younger fellow.”

Mr Steven said at that time the land was being grazed and sometimes cropped.

“The 1986 flood damaged everything. It cut right through the block, which was ploughed at the time, and created a riverbed down the centre of the paddock.”

Mr Steven said repairs were carried out and he persuaded the high school board to begin a tree-planting programme on one part of the paddock. By the 1990s, most of the block was planted in trees.

When Pleasant Point High School was closed in 2005, the trustees discussed the future of the land and a decision was made to cash up and invest the lump sum.

Proceeds from the sale were vested in the newly created Pleasant Point Education Trust and trustees allowed the capital to grow for a couple of years before calling for applications for scholarships.

“Now the trust has about $15,000 to $20,000 per year available.”

Applications close on January 22.

Visit www.pointedtrust.co.nz to download an application form.